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Thread: The Great Morris Chair project

  1. #46
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Stanwood, WA
    Walt and the Morris Chair Gang,

    Great news!

    I am ready to start the chair. I had another project taking up my shop until today:

    So here I come!


    "Everything is better with Inlay or Marquetry!"

  2. #47
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Stanwood, WA

    First Offcial Post

    I have the book and I have just recently cleared my shop with another project so I am ready to begin... well almost.

    I still have yet to clean my shop and sharpen and align my tools. (something I do before any big project)

    I have the wood picked out locally here but it haven’t purchased it yet only because I really wanted to get my other project done first.

    I am going to buy QSWO for the main viewable parts and flats sawn WO for the parts you don't see (or see very little).

    I am going to buy about 30 bdft of each and whatever is left over will get used on something else.

    Once I get the lumber and get started I don't expect it will take terribly long to complete…Maybe a month not counting the finish. (I will warn you, I am not good at these types of estimations as I have never built one of these before).

    I am concerned about the mortises, as all I have right now is a drill press attachment. I will try it with the attachment and see how it goes.

    Once I get started, expect plenty of pics starting when I get the lumber into my shop. I will try and update this thread similar to the way I made the marquetry tutorial.

    Go team!


    "Everything is better with Inlay or Marquetry!"

  3. #48
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    El Paso, TX
    Greetings Morris Chair Groupies.

    At the risk of telling you more than you want to know - but you'll have to blame Walt for that - here is where I'm at re: Morris chair.

    I've got the plan book.

    My lumber order is in, however, they left off the QSWO <sigh>, which I had planned to use -- so I may use cherry, got plenty of that, or go buy QSWO locally at a higher price, or maybe the forgotten QSWO will show up. Species to be determined.

    Currently I've got two main projects going, a bathroom remodel and a Stickley/Harvey Ellis No. 72 magazine case. It's been awhile since I've built furniture - I've been building and repairing musical instruments for a number of years. Quite a change - a guitar having almost no square or flat surfaces, while A&C furniture having almost no curved or radiused surfaces. So the magazine case is a warm up project, in order to determine weaknesses in tools, technique and thinking (sure enough, I've found several in all areas). So I've spent some time and will continue to spend time tuning table saw, jointers and re-arranging my shop to accommodate square stuff. I've purchased a few tools aimed at A&C furniture building as well - a SC bench mortiser, a freud dado head, jet parallel bar clamps. I've got a small but nicely equipped shop: jet contractors saw (with a terrible stock fence - need to do something about that, maybe use it as an excuse to buy a new saw), 6" jointer, dust collector, an old sears drill press, delta drum sander, delta bench planer, 1948 Oliver lathe (my one gloatable piece) and a variety of routers/laminate trimmers and other portable power tools.

    Both the bathroom remodel and the cabinet are pretty far along, but the devil is in those finishing details - so they'll slow my initial participation somewhat. The other thing is a planned vacation beginning July 27 for two weeks. I plan to at least get some stock milled and the bending form done before leaving on vacation - but it will probably not be till mid August that I will start in earnest. I would hope to complete in not much longer than a couple of months of catch as catch can evenings and weekends.

    Looking forward to the group build!


  4. #49
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Stony Plain, Alberta
    Greetings All...

    One more of the Morris Chair Club checking in.

    My downloaded plans are in hand and I have had some time to go over them. Everything seems pretty straight forward.
    I haven't done a bowed arm before but am looking forward to that part of the project.

    At first I was going to build a cherry version of the chair and ottoman for one of our spare rooms. Thought it would be nice do do a couple of cherry pieces for our home, Arts and Craft style.

    When my wife saw what we were doing, things changed just a bit....

    The chair and ottoman will be QSWO and be for the living room. The two will have a brother and sister... So it's two chairs and ottomans. Here is a shot of where the finished pieces will live. Will fit in just fine with the other Arts and Crafts coffee table and two end tables.

    Morris chair and ottoman 059.jpg

    Upside of the change is I don't have to buy any wood. I have a good stock pile of QSWO on hand. And with a couple of more pieces of furniture for the house it might be tool shopping time again after. Don't really need anything but always what a few more things.

    I am going to do things a bit backwards and build the ottomans first. That way I can get them stained so the boss can pick the leather color. By my guestimate I will need 2 hides. (not to sure what that will set one back) By doing it this way she will have her color and be assured they are from the same dye lot.

    The way figure it the ottomans will take about a month to do, with the amount of shop time I get. The chairs, about a month and a half. So all in all with finishing it will take me a little over 3 months to complete everything.

    This weekend will be spent getting the wood picked for the first 8 legs.

    It's going to be a pleasure working alongside (well sort of) the rest of the Morris Chair Gang....

  5. #50
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Brush Prairie, WA

    Progress update

    Uneventful so far, but here's some status:

    I ordered the book through Amazon, and when it showed up, I was surprised. I have the same book already sitting in one of the many piles in the shop. Of course, I couldn't find it. That (and the 4x7 upper that FELL off the wall) got me motivated to start another "whole-shop" cleaning, which got me reorganizing, which made me rearrange the entire shop's setup and move all the power tools around. Once again, had I made little models and moved them around on paper, it would have saved my back and brain). I have a recent cyclone add-on that's taken up a lot of time, and is functional, but only about 60% complete. Another 8 hours should see it complete.

    Current project has been a new studio (conversion from an old open pole barn) up near the house. It's complete aside from insulation in the rafters, so a trip to the big box this weekend and some crawling around in the heat up there may get it 100% finished. It's temporarily an office for me, a guest room, and a quiet place to go think about the Morris Chair project.

    Anyhow, I have the plans, have looked them over, nothing scares me so far. I have no mortiser (in fact, no DP, either), and no _current_ plans to pick one up. Hand tools should do the trick. I also don't have a tenoning jig, so I'll attempt those by hand, too (but it may mean creating a plywood mortising jig for the tablesaw if it causes me fits. I recall seeing Roy U. making them and wondering at how easy he makes it look.) I figure that if my great grandfather could do it years ago, I should be able to. I'm going to get everything well sharpened and tuned and cleaned before getting started, and I have two clean 4x8 work tables ready to accept some dust and shavings.

    The wood is going to be Alder. I have several hundred feet of 8/4 left over from a goldmine I found last year. It's been acclimating for months, and should be more than ready. Fairly clear stuff, and it will match bedroom furniture.

    I don't know how long it will take - other projects seem to jump in every few days. I'm planning on about 5 weeks plus weekends, but I plan on taking it slowly so I don't end up with two right sides or something ridiculous like that. DAMHIKT.

    Looking forward to getting started - I imagine within the next week I'll get the wood all laid out and sketched on, maybe get some initial milling done. I have to read the plans and make some sketches to make sure there are no trouble spots. I'm going to take some photos of the lumber and the workspace and put them in an album here.

    One question - what about using a vacuum bag to do the lamination glue-up for the arms? Does this intimate that I'll need a full-sized MDF jig and not a "center-strip-style" jig? Anyone else planning on this? I haven't gotten much use out of the vacuum press yet.

    Good luck, guys! It's going to be fun!

  6. #51
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Blackfoot Idaho
    Hi All!

    I have the downloaded plans in-hand, and have read them over and think it all is something I can do. I have to admit to having some fear (but no loathing) about being able to do this project, but that is taking a back-seat right now to anticipation about getting started!

    My plans are to use a large stock of wormy fir I had originally bought to be used as trim in our cabin. It is rough stock, and once we started running the boards through my planer, and saw all those holes that would need to be filled, my Wife decided that plain old pine would be just fine for trim in a cabin! This stuff is pretty dense, and it has some beautiful grain, but there are those pesky wormholes. I intend to fill them with colored epoxy, and in the past I have pretty consistently used black as it provides a nice contrast with most woods. But now I am second-guessing, and thinking that maybe a medium to dark brown might be better, so it doesn't overwhelm the wood. Any thoughts on this?

    People keep talking about cleaning the shop in preparation for this project, and I have to admit I'm not sure if I know what this term means! I know what cleaning is, and I have a shop, but using those terms together confounds me! But I will have faith and keep reading here, and hopefully I'll figure out this "clean the shop" thing pretty soon.


  7. #52
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Brush Prairie, WA
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Greaves View Post
    I intend to fill them with colored epoxy, and in the past I have pretty consistently used black as it provides a nice contrast with most woods. But now I am second-guessing
    Hey, Scott. Welcome!

    First thing that came to mind when you said Epoxy is clear epoxy. That would highlight the holes, bring out the character, and still give the stability and keep out dust and junk. And no funny colors in case you decide later on that the color/tone you went with was too distracting. I could see _anything_ being distracting, though...

    Can you post pictures of it and what you've done before?

    And about the cleaning thing - don't worry, we were just kidding. Who ever heard of cleaning a shop?

  8. #53
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Milwaukee, WI
    Quote Originally Posted by gary Zimmel View Post
    I am going to do things a bit backwards and build the ottomans first. That way I can get them stained so the boss can pick the leather color. By my guestimate I will need 2 hides. (not to sure what that will set one back) By doing it this way she will have her color and be assured they are from the same dye lot.
    You're guestimate is spot on. My chair/ottoman took a hide. The upholsterer charged $850 for the combo (material/labor)

  9. #54
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    SW Ohio

    Leather Hide source

    If anyone is looking to buy their own hide, you might look here:

    I bought a hide for my planned chairs/ottomans

  10. #55
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    North Tustin, California
    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Caza View Post

    Put a red star on your calender ..... soon we begin!
    take it easy,
    I'll be lurking in the background for a while. I'm currently finishing up panel doors for the hall cupboard that I'm redoing, then I have an arts & crafts bookcase to make for the same hallway. But I'll be checking in from time to time. This is an advanced project for me, so I'll be taking it slowly and reading up on others suggestions and issues.

  11. #56
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Fallbrook, California
    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Nailon View Post
    I'll be lurking in the background for a while. ...
    Patrick, you're not alone lurking in the background. Since my workshop plans are still being redrawn so that I can get a building permit for my shop/garage, I don't have a place to build anything. Hopefully by reading and looking at the pictures from these builds, when I do get a chance to make my own chair I'll be able to do a better job. Thanks in advance to all who are making the chairs.
    Don Bullock
    Woebgon Bassets
    AKC Championss

    The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.
    -- Edward John Phelps

  12. #57
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Beavercreek, Ohio

    Pics as requested by Gary Z.

    I just finished the "wood" part of the chair. Next is the upholstery. Attached are a couple pics. I have really enjoyed working with cherry. Remember, the arms are the most visible part, so choose your lumber carefully for those pieces.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  13. #58
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Windsor, ON
    Blog Entries

    Thumbs up my personal update

    Good Day to the Creek,
    As we approach the official start date, I want to thank all contributors to this posting…
    over 4100 views of a build thread before a single board is cut, thanks for your support.
    I have both the book and paper plans in hand. The only advantage of the paper version is a full sized corbel pattern---no biggie at all.

    Due to high gas, I had to wait weeks for my lumber delivery from bigtown Toronto.
    I bought 4/4” QSW oak, as well as 5/4” which I will use for my chair and other projects.
    It stung my wallet, but I now have 250bf of lumber in hand, plus a little black walnut.

    While waiting for lumber I have been trying to find my shop floor, which I have not seen in a very long time.
    I have also shuffled my layout and been putting a keen edge on my hand tools. Dewey’s idea to tuneup machines is wise, but am I?
    I did alot of 'busy work' such as a fresh router table and a bandsaw blade rack.
    I had considered a head start, but having no lumber has kept me ‘honest’. I am glad to finally have my wood in hand...(!)

    I am busy with other things, but will push for steady progress and updates of my chair until it is finished (bad pun).
    I expect with build, finish and upholstery it will take months.
    If I am able to sit in my chair before Christmas, I will consider that a win!

    The chair is comprised of a pair of slatted side frames, plus slatted seat and back frames.
    The plans feature slats into grooves with fillers. I am unfamiliar with that approach,
    and might use traditional m&t. I applaud the courage of Nathan to attempt this project without a mortiser nor drill press.

    As my first chair, I expect to be challenged by the bow arms and the reclining seat back.
    The big hurdle (BH from now on) will be cutting the arches on top of the side frames to mount the bow arms.
    Much time and effort will be put into the legs and poke-through
    mortise and tenons of the side frame before the BH, thus putting them at risk.
    Even more so if I mount the slats with traditional m&t. (hate to scrap sides after all that)
    I consider the BH tricky in advance, and crucial to the success of the build.

    As per Bill B’s tip, I will set aside some choice grain for the future arms, and then pick some nice oak for my legs.
    When I posted the thick leg veneers on my last end table, Gary suggested I try thinner next time.
    This would have been my first chance, but since he is using that approach, I will explore alternatives for my Morris chair.
    I aim to build the legs first, and then the stacked MDF bending forms.

    Let us strive to work safely and have fun with this,
    I’m eager to get started,

    Below is a snapshot of my rough lumber:
    Attached Images Attached Images
    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

  14. #59
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Stony Plain, Alberta

    And So We Start

    As this is our official start date, I thought I would take the liberty and post a quick picture.

    Not much, but if you look really closely you will be able to see my first ottoman....

    Morris chair and ottoman 042.jpg

    First on the to do list will be 4 legs. Will keep you posted.

    You can visit my album on the Great Morris Chair Project at
    Last edited by gary Zimmel; 07-16-2008 at 12:40 PM.

  15. #60
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Brush Prairie, WA

    Getting started on the Legs

    So, being as yesterday was the start, I got some time to work on things in the evening. Got the pieces of Alder picked out for the legs, played around with some designs before settling on a simple bookmatch. I'm using 8/4 Alder, so it was simple enough to mill up, saw the boards in half, and re-glue after a half-turn.

    The Alder is a little windy - not sure if it was case-hardened or just weird, but it's a bit tough to get boards flat and true. Lots of clamps seemed to help with the glue-up, and lots of pressure. The glue on the first two sets of boards dried last night, and this morning, I pulled them out of the clamps and took a photo before putting the SECOND set of legs in. (*ACK!*)

    Yes, I'm going to build a pair of chairs. My wife said, "Well, if you're building one..." and so it became reality. I have a pile of wood that is just holding the floor down currently, we go!

    The bookmatch looks nice - I plan on that taking care of any veneer work or weird mitering on the legs. The sides of the legs will have visible seams, but it should look intentional - my goal on any project. It may look awful, but make it look like you intended it, and someone, somewhere will cut you some slack.

    After these 6' leg sets come out of the clamps, I'll scrape the glue lines, re-mill them at current length to save steps, and then get started cutting them closer to length (I think I'll go 24" for some wiggle room).

    I'll keep posting/updating pictures here on my album:

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