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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Windsor, ON
    Blog Entries

    Thumbs up The Great Morris Chair project

    Good Day to the Creek,
    Please allow me to lay out the who, what, where, why, when and how...

    This is an invitation to all Creekers:
    Gary Zimmel and Walt Caza cordially invite you to join us in a remote build of a classic furniture project.
    We are each going to build the same Morris chair together, just 1975 miles apart. Even farther if you decide to play along!

    We have selected an attractive project that includes bow arms, through tenons, corbels and a 3 position reclining back.

    The chairs will be built in our own workshops as we find time, and pics of progress and problems will be brought right here to this posting.
    The plans are readily available 3 different ways, from WOOD magazine.
    Details in the following post to this thread if you are interested.

    We are hoping for a fun, shared learning experience building this hallmark of the Arts & Crafts movement together.
    This is not a contest, nor a race. It is more about the journey, but the destination holds much promise too!
    It's a great chair.

    No time seemed ideal to start...
    many are not in their shops in winter, most are too busy in summer.
    We decided we will start within July. Plenty of time to get your plans,
    gather materials, sharpen your tools and sweep our shop floors.
    We are just weekend warriors with jobs, yard work, families, other projects, etc...
    so progress may be slow and steady.

    All it takes to join the Morris Chair project is modest skills, a desire to build a handsome and classic chair and the warm spirit of Sawmill Creek.
    The only thing that can make it 'Great', is your participation !!

    Further details in the following post...
    Hope you'll join us,
    Walt and Gary
    There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going! WCC

    Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind - Dr. Seuss

    Crohn's takes guts. WCC

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Windsor, ON
    Blog Entries

    Post Morris Chair details

    After careful consideration and comparison of 11 different designs,
    we have decided to go with plans from WOOD magazine.

    The same plans are readily available 3 ways:
    The book,
    WOOD magazine Arts & Crafts furniture
    190 pages, contains history, joinery, finishing and 18 project plans
    ISBN-13: 978-1-4027-1174-9
    ISBN-10: 1-4027-1174-3
    Sterling Publishing
    The Morris Chair in play is on page 38
    link to this book on Amazon

    Two more options:
    Their website store offers paper plans and a PDF file download for sale. (link)

    You can see pics of the chair and the matching ottoman at that link.
    I would have liked to include a pic in this post, but am not sure if that is allowed? (copyright?)

    Some details about the selected chair project are:

    Wood magazine chair details: (18 points)
    lower side and front rails thru tenon
    under arm 6 narrow slats and one wide in center with cut-out
    bow arms laminated over form with clamps not steam
    side slats into groove with fillers not m&t
    same with backrest with vertical mounted slats not m&t
    and also seat frame has 7 wooden slats to support seat cushion not m&t

    2 and 1/4" legs are 3pcs of 3/4" stock glued up for 3 layers with 2 seams and 2 sides of plain sawn grain
    corbels under arms
    back slats are straight and mounted in straight line
    3 position back tilts by moving pegs
    front legs do not poke up thru arms (could fake tenon caps)
    upholstery instructions included for cushions, but pro recommended

    matching ottoman and coffee table plans readily available
    straight forward and strong chair construction
    shortcuts to build quicker and easier
    plans readily available 3 ways
    great looking Morris chair overall
    should be comfortable, with cushions, tilt back and bow arms

    Stay tuned for a future posting about how this chair got it's name...
    Last edited by Glenn Clabo; 06-06-2008 at 1:37 PM. Reason: Fixed link
    There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going! WCC

    Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind - Dr. Seuss

    Crohn's takes guts. WCC

  3. #3
    Hi Everyone,Let me say I very much enjoy this thread. After reading this thread you all entice me to build myself one. I've never done anything like this before and this will be my 3rd project if I ever finish the 2nd project I started.
    Do you think I'm over my head as a newbie?
    Is there on set of plans bertter than another?



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Windsor, ON
    Blog Entries

    Arrow Let's play... Who wants to build a Morris chair?

    Hello Richard,
    Glad to hear that you enjoy our 'little chair thread'.
    Even more exciting to hear that you have been enticed into building your own Morris chair!

    It's easy to see the appeal...
    The Arts & Crafts aesthetic movement in general features slabs of handsome hardwood, clean lines and strong joinery.
    Woodworkers love to try their hand at such appealing details as corbels,
    expressed joinery such as through-tenons and the classic slat galleries.

    More specifically, the Morris chair is a hallmark of the entire movement.
    Ruskin wrote about his philosophy and values.
    William Morris developed and spread the idea in Britain.
    Gustav Stickley brought it to America and made it blossom.

    Many woodworkers feature a Morris chair on their lifetime build wishlist.
    We have been lucky enough to see a wide variety of chairs from many builders in this thread.
    Our first wave of builders who posted ongoing progess from start to finish,
    had never built a chair before either.
    Nathan, Gary Z. and I built our first chairs in this thread for all to see.

    As to your decision, only you can decide what is right for yourself.

    The chair is comprised of 4 frames:
    A pair of sideframes joined together with stretchers, a seatframe and a backrest frame.
    Have you any frame building experience?
    Maybe build a mirror or picture frame first, to measure and polish your ability?

    There are many different plans available.
    Nathan, G.Z. and I all built the bow-armed Morris chair plans from Wood Magazine.
    I can only comment first-hand on these plans, which were complete and
    thorough with step-by-step instructions.
    Perhaps find their book, which contains several nice projects, and read the
    chair plans to better understand what it takes to build this chair?
    Bending the bow arms was a bit tricky but very satisfying!

    The Wood Mag. plans mostly use the slats-into-grooves with filler spacers technique.
    This is a straight forward approach to making slat galleries.
    Myself, I chose to convert the whole chair to traditional mortise and tenons.

    Another option is to simulate the through tenons with fake caps.
    This method should take less time, which may appeal to some builders.
    Different folks have different shoptime, desire, experience and equipment.
    Myself, I poked my tenons right through the legs in the traditional way.
    This proved time consuming and challenging to tune them just right.
    There is no right or wrong, just choices we each have to make.
    Only you can choose your most-correct path.

    I would not want to discourage anyone... but in the name of fair disclosure:
    I found my wood expensive. Not all the wood I paid for, ended up in my chair.
    Waste and miscues ate up some QSW oak.

    I found the chair huge, and it's parts monopolized my shop surfaces.
    Stacks of slats here, legs in clamps there.
    I constantly had to move-this, to use-that.
    It can get annoying to build a large solid wood project in a small shop.

    Depending on your choices, the job is best undertaken with certain tools and machines.
    For resawing arm plys for bending, bandsaw is best.
    For bending arms without steam, vacuum bag or many clamps are needed.
    For a slew of traditional mortises, hard to beat a hollow chisel mortiser.
    There are work-arounds, with the usual trade-offs of time, effort and frustration.

    Three classic versions of Morris chairs are historically accurate.
    At various times, Gus offered straight arms, bow arms and dog-legged bent arms.
    You can choose your chair details and construction approach.
    There are many options which will affect the tools required, and the difficulty of getting it done.

    It is easy to want to build a Morris chair.
    It requires perseverance to complete one.
    You can count on the support of other Creekers who run into the same problems and obstacles.
    That has proven to be an advantage of our shared group build.

    But no matter how you cut the mustard...
    it will be you, in your shop with a pile of wood building your chair.
    I do not believe it is over anyone's head to build such a project.
    But it will require time, effort, tools, materials and commitment.

    Expect to be challenged, and keep pushing to earn your rewards!
    This hobby is most satisfying when we keep improving the state of our individual art.
    Eager to hear your thoughts, Richard.
    be well,

    ps I find through-tenons demanding, because you have to gradually sneak up on a fit,
    and yet leave no unsightly gaps when it will slide home.
    There is nowhere to hide in these challenging joints!
    There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going! WCC

    Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind - Dr. Seuss

    Crohn's takes guts. WCC

  5. #5
    Hi Walt,
    Thank you for your replies to my questions about how much wood is required to put one of these chairs together.

    I do have a question. In your post to my question you said it would be good to get 5/4 stock so I can resaw and get two 1/2" slats... you also said the original plans call for 3/8" and you went up an 1/8 on purpose.... that all make sense.

    There was another post after you where someone put a link to a book and the sample pages show the cut list they have for the project. This cut list says 1 1/16" for the back slats and 3/4" for the side slats.
    This is quite a bit different than your report... Do you just chalk this up to different designs?

    Here is the link to the book +crafts+footstool&source=bl&ots=WE7GDQlOMl&sig=As-IHl3H5Uu-Vv5Ue02UPWJpAH8&hl=en&ei=1vqrSuuTN4S6NZqKlPIN&sa=X &oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10#v=onepage&q =ar ts%20and%20crafts%20footstool&f=false

    Thank you

    Note: I originally posted this question to Walt privately, not for any particular reason. He suggested making it a public conversation, which I certainly have no problem with. After contemplating the question and his answer, which will follow, I must believe the information is either a type of some sort.
    fledgling weekend warrior

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Windsor, ON
    Blog Entries

    mulling slat thickness...

    Hi Brad,
    I thought we could chat this topic within the Morris thread,
    both for input from... and possible benefit to... other members.

    The link gives only partial info:
    The backrest frame stiles and rails in that example are 1 and 1/16" thick.
    To make the back slats, better referred to as splats, the same thickness as the frame that holds them... is curious at best.

    I did much homework on this stuff...
    and cannot recall seeing slats as thick as their frame?
    Not sure if it is an authentic A&C detail?
    Perhaps someone else could weigh-in on that?

    At any rate, I prefer my slats thinner than the frame.

    From that link I cannot find more info on the side slats.
    But I'd prefer all the slats on the same chair to match?
    Yes, they are in separate slat galleries.

    And ya, you could argue that the side frame slats will remain more visible,
    while the backrest slats will be hidden by the cushion, from the front anyway.
    But I prefer all slats on the whole chair to be of the same thickness.

    Could be a typo, which are all too common in such plans.(?)
    Or, as you say, maybe just an alternative approach?
    * Maybe it was intended to accomodate the back cushion with a flat bearing surface? *
    The rules are, there are no rules.
    Do as you please, and give us a peek please!

    I hope this thread, while huge and unwieldy...
    would prove more helpful than plans from a book or magazine.
    Kicking such questions around is on-point.

    You just can't beat actual builders sharing from the sawdust-filled trenches!
    hope you get some shop time,

    ps Brad, a pecan Morris chair sounds intriguing!
    Last edited by Walt Caza; 09-19-2009 at 9:20 PM. Reason: *added a new possibility *
    There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going! WCC

    Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind - Dr. Seuss

    Crohn's takes guts. WCC

  7. #7
    So, I got the book and perused the chair plans. I'm excited. I wish I didn't have to wait until what will likely be Spring '10 before I get started. I'm actually going to do bookcases first (long story. bottom line is if I don't, LOML will go to IKEA :O )

    I do have a question. In looking at one of the detail drawings, why is the seat rail angled? In the picture, it looks like the top of the seat frame is curved. I'm pretty sure my mind is picturing the perspective of the detail correctly (looking down the length of the back rail).???
    fledgling weekend warrior

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Windsor, ON
    Blog Entries

    Post sloped chair seat...

    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Wood View Post
    why is the seat rail angled? In the picture, it looks like the top of the seat frame is curved???
    Hi Brad,
    Glad to hear you got your chair plans.
    I was stirred-up when I got mine too!

    Not sure what you are asking about?
    As Gary Z. said, the seat frame is flat, and mounts on cleats on the
    front and back rails.
    The cleats are offset to provide about 7 degrees of seat slope for comfort.

    I built mine with front and back rails a little wider...
    so that I could rip matching bevels to the seat angle...
    and leave no gaps at the front and back of the mounted seatframe.(pics of this earlier in thread)
    Not visible with a seat cushion in place, but I always strive to build my best.
    I expect my chair to outlast me by 100 years, easy.

    Also, the front chair rail has a large chamfer along the outside top edge.
    This is where the back of your legs would make contact with the rail
    when seated. Again, another effort to ensure comfort.
    Who wants to spend time, effort and material to build a chair that's not gonna wind up comfy!

    If this does not clarify, please elaborate on your question...
    we'll be glad to help!
    Perhaps a page number of the diagram in question would get us on the same page?
    see you in the sawdust,
    Last edited by Walt Caza; 09-25-2009 at 6:16 AM.
    There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going! WCC

    Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind - Dr. Seuss

    Crohn's takes guts. WCC

  9. #9
    Just met fellow Creeker Nathan Connor in person, great guy. Compared to my shop, he's got a great thing going.. and what an awesome 18" band saw... I think that blade he had on there was about 5" wide (OK, I'm exaggerating a bit). Sigh, someday I'll have a real shop.

    Nathan passed on a great deal on some wood as well, hooked me up real nice for this project and likely a few others..... Thanks big guy, much appreciated (for about 1/4 of what I would normally pay)

    Also saw his chair, looked great, can't wait to tackle the project (but I'll have to, got some other things for the LOML to do)

    Thanks again Nathan, what a great community the Creek has created.... I'm gonna go donate right now!
    fledgling weekend warrior

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Brush Prairie, WA

    A little slow

    I'm a little slow to respond these days. My grandpa always said I was a little slow on the upchuck.

    Yes, Brad, it was GREAT to meet you and poke around the shop a little. My wife was impressed by the Alder pile reduction, and it was a great segue to get me out of the yardwork and back into the woodworking season again. Those few boxes you saw on the bench have now multiplied after a long weekend in the shop into a total of 23 Christmas gifts. (Note to other Creekers after a short break or a long project: Go check your DC. I ignored mine for a few months because it's quiet and stuffed in a closet, and WOW. Filter box full, cyclone full, bin full and split a seam...The entire DC room was both a stunning mess of fine particulates and a horrible fire hazard. Complacency rules again! Woo hoo!)

    My little pair of chairs _still_ do not have cushions. Since they're going to be located in a constantly changing studio (started as a computer room, migrated to a media room, now is filled with pinball machines), the money for the cushions always seems to hit the back burner. It may take a lottery win for me to actually order these cushions made. Hmmm...maybe I can take another weekend and make more boxes. If I could sell these...

    Anyhow. Keep plugging along, guys. It's great to keep tabs on how everyone's builds are going, and I'm still keeping a pair of footrests in mind. (I can never get ottoman and divan and davenport straight, so 'footrests' it is.)

    Brad, be sure and keep me in mind if you need a few extra sticks of Alder or to see how those false through-tenons really look again.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Rochester, NY

    I just spent the last 6 days reading through this entire thread. First off - Walt and Gary, what a great idea you hatched here! Over a year and this thread is still active and the list of beautiful chairs continues to grow.

    Walt, I must admit I am envious of your joinery skills. You mentioned that your results with the mortiser improved with time. Could you elaborate at all? I am very curious.

    I would like to build one (or two) of these, but I am still at the very front of the curve and don't have many tools, certainly not the ones that a project of this magnitude require. Someday; putting a shop together takes a lot of time when all you have is weeknights, weekends, and a budget.

    I enjoyed reading the thread very much, thanks again to everyone who contributed tips and pics.


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Independence, KY
    I will definitely be participating in this. Though I expect to be on the slow boat with Glenn and Gary.
    Last edited by Mike SoRelle; 06-06-2008 at 11:40 PM. Reason: changed from a maybe to a definitely

  13. #13
    What an awesome idea. Unfortunately, my queue is pretty backed up from prior commitments at the moment. However, if there is no time limit, I may eventually participate.

    I was thinking of maybe building a couple of the outdoor Morris Chairs from the old Popular Woodworking plan. Unlike yours, this one has straight arms, cheap, home-center lumber, and is not really attractive. But it should still be comfortable.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Leesville, SC
    GREAT idea and I will enjoy watching the progress.....

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Fort Worth, TX
    This is the plans that I want to use to build a reading chair, since the couch is not too comfy for reading. But I am in the middle of another project and don't like to have more than 1 big project at a time. So I decided to rush and cut some minor corners in order to get this project finished and move on to the Morris Chair. Well, i rushed too much and cut too many corners and had to start my other project over.

    I have yet again learned some lessons

    1. you cant same money buying cheap tools
    2. you cant save time by cutting corners
    3. Borg wood sucks
    4. the chair will get done when it gets done

    Good luck on the chair and I will be following the progress.

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