Making a Morris Chair

In 2001, I decided to make a Morris Chair, but after looking at several different sets of photos, designs, and plans, there wasn't really a particular chair that I really liked.  All the plans had some nice features, but none was exactly to my liking. Some had flat arms, some had curved, and still others had flat, slanted arms with turned down fronts (what I wanted).  For the back, most used straight slats, but I wanted a slight curvature to the back slats. Also, some had adjustable reclining provisions, and some didn't.  I wanted mine to recline - although I must admit, I just set the chair back into a position I liked and have left it there ever since.

So, I set out to develop a design that incorporated all the features I wanted.  I ended up adapting features from an older issue of Fine Woodworking, one in BH&G Wood Magazine, and one from Norm Abram's New Yankee Workshop.  Overall, I've been very satisfied with the results.

Knowing that the bent laminated back slats would likely be the hardest part to make, I started with them.  I resawed the Oak into 1/8" thick strips, and laminated five of them - using a two part urea formaldehyde glue - on a bending form I made by cutting the curves from a piece of 4" X 6".  Gluing them up took a lot of clamps, and I could have used a couple extra hands, too...

After making the slats, and cutting the tenons on the ends of them, I assembled then into the chair back.


Next, after deciding on the number and size of the slats, I made the mortises in the stretchers, made the downward angled cuts on the arms, and assembled the sides of the chair.



Then, with the two sides assembled, I added the cross stretchers, and finished the base of the chair.



Finally, I added the back, using dowels as pivot pins, and turned pins as adjustment stops.  The adjustment stops insert into holes drilled laterally into the inside back edges of the arms.



After trimming the through tenons in the arms, adding the corbels and the seat bottom, and a whole lot of sanding, I glued it all up and added the finish.  I used a water based aniline dye, and garnet shellac for the finish.



Here it is, after applying the finish.  These cushions are just 'temps.'  They were borrowed from my couch...


And finally, here it is in the living room, with the custom made cushions installed.  Not being an upholsterer, I did farm that job out..  Of course, the chair by itself looked kinda lonely there in the room, so I built the matching ottoman, lamp, and magazine rack.  Makes a lovely setting, don't you think?



If you'd like to comment on the chair, or would like any more info regarding the making of it, please email me.

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