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Thread: The Great Morris Chair project

  1. #151
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Stony Plain, Alberta

    A Job Well Done!


    Sweet looking finished chair! Excellent job.

    Your costs sure make it worth while to build a heirloom
    rather than buying one. The changes you made to your
    plan sure look good. As in the slope of the seat.

    Another chair. Is the ottoman on the books too?
    Your brother is going to be one happy camper.

    As for our bowed arms. Walt and I have been talking
    back and forth and may screw the ends of our bowed
    arms to the legs. I too have concerns about just glue.
    It would be capped off to give it the look of yours but it
    would be a faux tenon. Too late to do anything else as
    my legs are already made as per the plan.

    Congrads again. Can't wait to see the progress of the
    chair for your brother.

  2. #152
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Brush Prairie, WA

    FAUX tenons?!

    Wait, wait.'re going to LIE? You're planning on DECEIVING people with your design? That's...that's...I'm just breathless.

    And, of course, I'm doing the same thing, only everywhere.

    I did a sample of a faux through-tenon, and it looked great. Since they're already through-tenons (flush with the outer edge after trimming), I doubt anyone will care or notice. Since the mortiser bit was un-tuned and new, and I didn't know what I was doing, I ended up cutting all my mortises incorrectly, and it was either start over, which I was unwilling to do on those legs, or just make a little cap and pretend.

    I think it's perfectly acceptable.

    And on my bowed arms, I think since it's mostly long grain to long grain, and since I used the arms themselves to trace the curve and then sanded to get a great fit, I'm not too worried about the glue giving up. Maybe a pin or dowel for some extra strength in the tops of the legs, but I would make it invisible if I were to do it. Something about knowing there's a screw in there wouldn't sit well with me. But then, I'd planned on skipping the screws on the seat rails, too, and just using a good amount of yellow glue. I'll let you know when the first seat collapses, and if my homeowner insurance covers the hostpital bill.

  3. #153

    Thanks Gary

    Thanks Gary,

    An Ottoman is just something else to trip over at this point, but an A&C coffee table is likely. I'm glad I am not the only one concerned about the arms. I'm a little reluctant to use screws, but since the legs aren't built, I will probably extend them an inch or so, dowel through the sides and cap again.

  4. #154
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Beavercreek, Ohio

    Leather costs

    Hi David,
    Wow, nice chair. How in the world did you get your leather for $99? That's a heck of a deal. Am I missing something?

  5. #155

    leather costs

    Thanks Bill,
    We expected to pay $2-300 for a hide on the internet. An upholsterer (not the one we actually used) recommended we check our local Tandy Leather Store. They had some full hides on sale for $99. We bought one with the understanding if we didn't like it it could be returned. We showed it to the upholsterer who said it was good leather and we were done. This same upholsterer said that cushions made with leather from him would cost $1200.

  6. #156
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Stony Plain, Alberta

    Slats and Grooves

    Good Day to the Creek!

    The slats are made for the chairs.
    I desided to make them 1/2" thick instead of
    3/8" as the plan calls for. They are also a bit wider.
    1 1/2" versus 1 1/4" wide.

    Morris chair and ottoman 183.jpg

    When I was making the grooves there was a little oops...
    Look once cut twice.
    I cut one of the grooves on the wrong side of the rail.
    Tick me off.

    Morris chair and ottoman 177.jpg

    Not wanting to waste the piece I just filled the extra groove.
    After the glue was dry I planed it down flush.

    Morris chair and ottoman 178.jpg Morris chair and ottoman 180.jpg

    This will be one of those things that no one sees.
    But I know it is there.
    All in all it is just about invisable.

    Morris chair and ottoman 181.jpg

    With the slats and grooves done next will be getting
    the slats fitting just right into the grooves.


  7. #157
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Beavercreek, Ohio
    Thanks for the leather advice, David. There's a Tandy store about 60 miles from me (in Columbus), so I'll check it out next time I'm there.

  8. #158
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Stony Plain, Alberta

    A Little Test Fitting.

    Good Day to the Creek!

    As the slats are made and the grooves are
    done (and fixed) I took the time to make sure
    all of the slats fit just so.
    All of my slats are just a hair fat of the grooves.
    This lets me custom fit them to the grooves.
    Also saves me from having to sand them.

    Morris chair and ottoman 186.jpg Morris chair and ottoman 191.jpg

    And so I get to see a little peek at how a chair side
    will look. The spacers will be made and fitted after
    the side is glued up.

    Morris chair and ottoman 194.jpg

    This weekend I will get the detailing on the center slats
    done and rip some 3/8" blanks for the arms.

    Hope everyone has a good weekend and a little shop time!


  9. #159
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Brush Prairie, WA

    A little shop time

    So, I got some shoptime yesterday, and started focusing on only one chair for now. Wow, what a difference a day makes!

    All the parts of Chair #1 are assembled, glued, and have the initial 2 pre-fit sandings out of the way. I have one more sanding to do, and a slightly better fitting of the back. It, unfortunately, was my biggest mistake. Instead of milling it like I was supposed to, I laid it flat, like a raised-panel frame. Habit, I guess. Anyhow, got it all assembled (and glued, of course!) and realized it was 1" oversized on the width. GRRRR! Instead of tearing it all apart or making a new one, I ripped 1/2" off each side, and I think I'll live with it. Because of the glue, I would probably make a mess trying to get it apart and make new "Q" (I think) pieces. It looks fine, just may not be as strong as intended. We'll see. If it looks like it will hold up, I'll keep it, otherwise, I'll do a new back.

    Anyhow, progress really came fast this weekend. Not sure what happened. All of a sudden, I was looking around for the next pieces to cut, and realized I was done! I threw a piece of black walnut on the spinny thing in the corner to turn the dowels for the back (I wanted some contrast, and besides, I don't own any 5/8" dowels), and as soon as it's a reasonable hour, I'll finish. (It's awfully loud with the screeching chatter of the flat scraper)

    Gary, I threw in a shot of the right upper rail, before I attached the arm, just for you. My first mistake (other than my mortises) was milling the groove in the wrong side. I did, as you did, just fill the grrove. You can't see it, but yeah...I know it's there!

    The mortise repair came out better than expected. They look...intentional. No one but me need know.

    I called around yesterday looking for a decent upholsterer and some leather. Looks like I'm in luck on both - there are several around, and they all seemed anxious to do it. I just need to make a choice and go pick out the leather from a local leather store.

    I have to say, I've discovered my hand planes again. I took an hour break yesterday to put a good edge on three of them, and then have used them for all the chamfers and edge cleanup. In my eyes, MUCH safer and saner than using the trim router. If I screw up with the hand plane, it's just a nick. If I goof with the router, it's a new piece and possibly days' more work. The plane did wonders on the outside edge of the arms. The Rotex did a number on the saw marks, but also left a bunch of waves in the edge that were obvious from the right angle. The plane took all the high spots down smooth...I should have used it from the beginning.

    So, have any of you guys thought of finishes? Maybe it's not that time, yet, but I need to get a finish started before it starts to get cold. 58 in the shop is too cold for a good cure, and it's awfully expensive to keep it at 70. My options so far are a sprayed-on, water-based lacquer or a wipe-on poly. When I brush, I tend to leave high spots, puddles, ridges and brush marks. I'll just say, I'm HORRID at brush-on finishes, and this is not the project to...uhhh...brush up on that skill. (*cough*) I'm not going to stain it. Maybe Chair #2? We'll see how this one turns out.

    A few pics of the pieces, and I'll take some more after I get the completed assembly this afternoon, and before I take the pieces apart for final sanding.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  10. #160
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Brush Prairie, WA

    Starting to look like a chair

    So, before teardown and final sanding, wanted to get some shots of the pile of sticks. It's starting to look like a real chair!

    I don't know about the back. It may or may not survive any abuse, and though it's not flimsy, it's about 1/2 as sturdy as it was intended, so it may be rebuilt/swapped out depending on how it feels when you sit in it. Also, in retrospect, I should have built the chair and ottoman instead of two chairs. It seemed like a good idea, and I know the second chair will actually turn out better than this one (learning curve, right?) but it would have been pretty nice to have an ottoman - looks like this chair needs one. Also, the LOML is hinting strongly about rockers for the second chair.

    In general, though, I like the looks! The proportions are nice, the Alder looks fine, and it looks like it may fit alright next to that walnut/alder table sitting next to it (I made it a little while ago out of some scraps, but it's been in the shop, waiting for some new home in the house). The color on the skirts and legs of the table is what this would turn out like if I didn't stain it, and I don't think I will. It may turn out VERY blonde, but I think it'll be alright.

    A few things I noticed as I was putting the final pieces together:

    Turning your own dowels is well worth it - it was about 25 mins. work, and they stand out! One scrap of walnut, and they were done. I put a little BLO on them to bring out the color, and they fit nicely, look great. Just another little touch you can say you did...

    I don't like the clamping/jig system they had you use for the arm holes. Neat idea, but in practice, it's a little hard to get set up to 90/11 degrees on the back. It would have been easier to measure, (even using their jig) and I would have been right on. I'm going to have to re-turn the left-side top pin a speck larger to make up for the slight difference.

    The 4 slats in the back make for a simple centering, because you can just cut the two center spacers to fit, instead of 4 matching ones on the outside corners as you needed to with the sides. As you can tell, though it's symmetrical, there's a noticeable difference between the center space and the outside edges. Nice trick, but maybe I should have stuck with the 4 outer ones so there wasn't an exaggerated space in the center.

    The slats for the seat seem weak. Maybe I should have beefed them up a bit to 1/2"? Not sure if it was intentional for the 3/8 to seem "softer" for a more comfortable sit, but I think I prefer stable over soft. I haven't yet had a seat in the chair - I'll wait until the cushions get done.

    Speaking of that, has anyone poked around and considered material/leather colors for the cushions? I hate to "cheap out" on that, but a pair of chairs in full leather could easily top $1,000. Are there leather-look vinyls or Naugahydes (or whatever that stuff is) that are functional and look nice? I'm a bit green around the gills from the thought of using leather in the first place, but I'd like this chair to be around a few years...

    How's everyone else coming along?
    Attached Images Attached Images

  11. #161
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Stony Plain, Alberta

    Lookin Good!

    Your chair looks great Nathan.

    I like the way you have the side slats all the same size.
    Little to late for me to think about that as the ottomans are done..
    Maybe next time.
    I have been wondering if the the bows on the arms were going
    to be to big. From your pics everything does seem in proportion.
    I hope you don't have to do the back again.
    Can't wait to see it finished.

    As for me things are going a little slower than planned.
    I did get some shop time tonight and finished off the
    middle side slats.

    To begin I put a 5/8" start and stop hole for the long grooves.
    With an 1/4" upcut bit and a stop block it was quite simple to get
    a nice straight line.

    Morris chair and ottoman 195.jpg Morris chair and ottoman 197.jpg

    Since I don't have a scroll saw I made a quick trip to
    my dads to use his. They need a little clean up. But all in all
    they turned out not bad.

    Morris chair and ottoman 198.jpg Morris chair and ottoman 201.jpg

    I am hoping to get a couple of the bowed arm blanks cut
    and then glued up by the end of this weekend. Am still
    trying to figure out what glue to use. After that it seems
    like clear sailing.

    Nathan I was checking out the price of hides here.
    I need two and it seems they will be between 400 - 450 per...
    Tandy here doesn't have two from the same dye lot that are
    at a reduced price. So I guess we pay the bucks.
    Haven't checked out how much it will be for someone to put
    the cushions together but I think when its all done it will be a little pricey.

    Walt reminded me that thats OK as we are building heirlooms....


  12. #162

    Very nice indeed

    Nathan, looking very good indeed. Try Gary’s Upholstery Supply. They have full hides, in a variety of colors for $259 ea. And faux leather for $23.99 /yd. (a MC takes 3 yards). I’m told the faux stuff lasts longer than leather. I plan to use this on a chair for my brother (ash with Admiral faux leather cushions). They also send samples out very quickly and provide advice and help if you are upholstering yourself.

  13. #163
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Beavercreek, Ohio

    Alternate material choices

    Hi Nathan,
    I posted a response on 7/18 (in this thread) that shows some pictures and the vinyl I used. The "Whisper" vinyl is really soft and warm. It's been two months and I'm still enjoying it. Please see above or search on my posts. I think you'd be happy with this particular vinyl (plus the fact it only cost $38!).
    Bill Borchers

  14. #164
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Beavercreek, Ohio

    Sorry Nathan, the original posting was 7/28, not 7/18

    Here's my info from 7/28 (I didn't want to waste space and re-post the pics)...
    I know it wasn't a race, but I have completed my Morris Chair! OK, I did start in December.
    Anyway, I thought I'd post a few pics, especially since I did it out of cherry instead of the traditional QSWO.
    I completed the upholstery last weekend. I never thought I would use vinyl, but I did. I remember proclaiming that a chair of this complexity and beauty deserved leather, but I succumbed to price pressures. A hide or two of leather is pretty darn expensive and some of the vinyls I found are really nice. I used a brand name called "Whisper". It is really soft - not plasticy at all. I bought from a chain fabric store - Hancock Fabrics. They had a special last Saturday and I bought 4 yards (plenty) for a total of $38 ($9.50/yd). That's alot cheaper that a hide or two. If I decide to upgrade to leather later, I can call the vinyl $38 worth of practice!
    The actual upholstery was easier than I thought it would be. The plans I used were shown in issue 155 of Woodsmith magazine. I actually purchased the plans from for $9.95. They are really good plans. Anyway, Woodsmith has a video on their site that anyone can view. It shows how to make the cushions - the directions are clear and make it pretty straight forward. Here's the link:
    Good luck to all participating. I'd be happy to answer any questions. I'd also like to thank all the help I got during my eight month quest (mostly finishing questions).
    Attached Thumbnails

  15. #165
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Windsor, ON
    Blog Entries

    Thumbs up ...lots of voices

    Well now, Good Day to the Creek,
    I spent the last couple weeks sick and miserable.
    I just layed low and watched our group build unfold.

    Last I posted, I was stuck on glue for the bow arms.
    Thanks to Ben D. for his thoughts and kind words.
    Ya, a 2pc bending form is a possibility, and would offer parallel surfaces
    for clamping. I learned from a Lonnie Bird article in FWW online, that you
    would indeed have to remove the total arm thickness from the 2 forms
    when they are brought together. Good tip...I stuffed it up my sleeve.

    Yes, thinner plies would bend better. The original WoodMag plans called
    for each ply to be 3/8" thick. Perhaps not the ideal approach...
    and a contributing factor to springback for our builders.

    Yep, a resilient form lining would better spread the clamping force.
    Cork is spendy, I read someone got good results with floor underlay.
    For me, I only have a single chair planned, and so am hoping to
    make this work without spending too much more time and effort.

    hrumpf...your double-wide form idea seems to me to cause as many
    problems as it might solve! My parallel clamps from both sides
    actually touch in the middle, giving full width pressure. (not possible if dbl)
    This suggestion is interesting, I wonder if anyone can share their experience with it?

    I believe David F. is spot-on, when he states that creep is a bigger problem than
    bow arm springback. Using the actual arm, with or without springback,
    as a template to arch the side frames, seems to be the hot ticket.
    Sharing this approach is another great benefit of our group build,
    and reinforces the value of our collective project.
    Even though he already built an MDF template to match the form,
    I bet GZ does not use it, in favour of this arm-tracing method.

    David your finished chair looks terrific. Webbing under the seat cushion is an
    intriguing alternative to a slatted frame.

    I had to walk away from the computer and laugh for a while after I read your inspired quote:
    "My only real concern is how to attach the arms. 'Glue and clamp the arms to the side frames'
    doesn’t fill me with confidence."
    He,he, still hits me funny as I type it now.
    In fairness, all the wood plans I have ever seen seem to gloss over big steps
    with such over-simplifications and lack of elaboration.
    I felt a twinge of panic upon reading that line, from the first time I skimmed over the plans,
    to this very day! Feels good to not be alone on that one...

    Lastly David, is the torn ACL you mentioned hobbling you...or a crucial
    athlete that is breaking your heart this season?!?

    Gary Z, thanks for sharing your extra-groove-oops. You do not see these
    kinda things mentioned in slick tv shows or glossy magazines,
    but I believe that is exactly where the wheel meets the road in our little shops.
    It reveals plenty about your standard of quality, that the oops would not
    be visible in the finished chair, but you filled it anyway.
    I had to chortle when I read you said: "I would have known..." ha! Exactly.

    The only trouble I am that the tools in your pics are sooo sweet,
    it distracts me from your careful work!
    All that Jessem and LN, (whistles...) wow, and don't get me started about that
    dream LN workbench of yours! A pair of vices to die for... (whoa)

    A little MIA: If anyone runs into Dewey or Jim Brown, please ask them to phone home,
    or at least chime into our thread and tell us the score...

    ***And finally: In an unexpected development...
    Surprise, it was a race afterall... and Bill Borchers is our Winner! Tell him what he's won!
    Just kidding Bill, sorry... but thanks for contributing to our story.

    Thanks to all our posters....... Good Show!
    be well, (unlike me...cough, hack)
    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

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