Prairie Home Companions
A friend wanted a pair of craftsman style side chairs for his home’s “day” room. I interested him in a design drawn from the Stickley 416 Prairie style with a few modifications readily developed with a SketchUp model. The dark stained, African mahogany replaced the more traditional qs white oak to add greater contrast with the brighter cushion upholstery he wanted. Side cushions and side panel construction of the Stickley design were replaced with an open rail and picket system to give the chairs a lighter and more airy appearance compatible with the rooms feel.
Fabrication was relatively straightforward and enjoyable but the numbing prospect of hand cutting several hundred, small mortises for the pickets justified a new dedicated mortising machine. The four large “through” mortises for the leg tennons were precisely cut with a shop made router jig and carefully squared with a chisel. Only then were the leg tenons cut for the required snug fit.
The overall project has fit the need and led to further developement of a center table in the same style to complete the set.
Requires an ample supply of 4/4, 5/4 and 8/4 African mahagony
SketchUp working plan developed a photo of a Stickley 416 Prairie.
Mortised rails prior to tennoning....justification for a dedicated mortising machine.
Completed piece finished with red oak oil stain followed with brown mahagony gel, a dewaxed shelac overcoat to seal the stain, and finished with three coats of wet sanded, semigloss poly.