How To Build a Bow-Arm Stickley Morris Chair
Lamination puts beautiful grain and a graceful curve within arm's reach
Synopsis: This chair, with its large, square legs and wide arms of quartersawn white oak, says “Craftsman” with every feature. It should, since it was based on a design by Gustav Stickley. The bowed arms and reclining back add comfort and style, yet the construction is not difficult. The two greatest challenges are making the bowed arms and cutting the mortise-and-tenon joinery in the curved parts. Woodworker Greg Paolini takes you through the construction step by step, adding tips for cutting accurate joints, laminating the arms, assembling the base, cutting the joinery and shaping the curved back slats, creating a seat-cushion frame, and finishing.
Watch Paolini demonstrate how to build the chair, step by step, in a 12-part video workshop.
From Fine Woodworking #205
Craftsman furniture is known for its straight lines, quartersawn oak, and sense of earthen mass and solidity. No piece displays those features better than a Morris chair, with its large, square legs and wide arms decked out in beautiful ray-fleck figure. The gracefully bowed arms of this version, designed by Brian Murphy of American Furniture Design and related to a design by Gustav Stickley, lighten the mass just enough to give it the feel of irresistible comfort. Throw in a reclining back and firm, but giving, cushions, and you have a chair that you’ll never want to leave.
For the most part, the construction is straightforward. But the most distinctive part of the chair—its arms—presents two big challenges: making bowed arms with attractive grain, and cutting a mortise-and-tenon joint on the curved arms and side frame. I’ll show you how laminating the arms gets you around those challenges. And I’ll show you how to get striking quartersawn grain everywhere it counts, including a simple and authentic method for making a leg with four quartersawn faces.
Get the Full-Size Plan
A full-size plan of a similar morris chair is available in the Fine Woodworking store .