Turned-Leg Ladderback Chair
With its roots in a classic three-slat design, Tim Manney's modern ladderback is built from straight-grained maple with turned legs.
Synopsis: This ladderback chair has its roots in a classic three-slat design. Bent back legs add a bit of liveliness. It’s built from straight-grained maple boards, not the traditional green wood split with a wedge and froe. The legs are turned at the lathe and then the rear legs are bent using a steambox and bending jig. The back slats are also steam bent. Clever jigs simplify drilling the mortises for the rungs and slats.
I’ve always admired the simplicity of the ladderback: It’s a chair reduced to the minimum components necessary to hold up a human body, nothing extra. For years I devoured images of ladderbacks, hoping to be able to draw on a catalog of ideas to design a good chair of my own someday. Two of the chairs that most influenced me were a three-slat ladderback made by Dave Sawyer and an Italian Chiavari chair from…