Reader's Gallery

Charles Rohlfs Carved Walnut Tall Back Chair Reproduction

comments (0) September 16th, 2012 in Reader's Gallery

woodbridge woodbridge, member
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After I finished building the Maloof style rocker I moved on to next project on my list: reproducing Charles Rohlfs Tall Back Chair. Rohlfs Tall Back Chair is my absolute favorite chair.  I love the carved back on this char and the biggest challenge for me was to try to reproduce the back.

This is the third Rohlfs chair that I have attempted to reproduce, the first being Rohlfs Rocking Chair and the second his  iconic 1898 desk chair. 

Before going further,  I want to thank  Dr. Karl Kusserow, Curator of American Art at the Princeton University Art Museum for the information he provided me on Rohlfs Tall Back chair.  I also had an opportunity to visit the Princeton University Art Museum on a recent trip to New York and see Rohlfs tall back chair first hand.

I spent about an hour looking at the chair, taking photos and videos of it from as many angles as possible.

As with Rohlfs desk chair, I was surprised at how light the chair structure is and how fine the carving is. The thickness of the wood is less than ¾ inch. The carving is quite intricate and delicate looking.

I had a 2 x 8× 60 inch piece of walnut left over from my Malolof rocker build and various other small pieces of walnut. I resawed the 2 inch thick piece into two boards which I book matched to form the back. The grain pattern of the book matched walnut matches the shape of the back quite nicely.

I spent a considerable amount of time piecing together the other small walnut pieces I had left over make up the boards needed for the other parts of the chair. Each side is made from four pieces, which in turn were each glued up from smaller walnut boards.

Structurally, the chair is actually quite simple , only five parts and some braces. The  main feature  and challenge is the carved back.  I'm still learning to carve so this was my biggest challenge.  It took several days for me to carve the back.  

A friend who is a professional upholsterer is going to make me an upholstered leather seat.  The seat in the pictures is "faux" (a fancy French way of saying vinyl) crocodile.

The chair is 54" high, 17.5 inches wide and 18.5 inches deep.  It is finished with Tung oil and wax.


posted in: Reader's Gallery, chair, carving, arts and crafts, walnut, Rohlfs

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