Getting Started

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Blog entry by Biscuit posted 12-31-2009 05:50 PM 1067 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I came across a Stickley morris chair in a furniture store about a year ago and figured I could buy all of the tools and supplies to build one for a fraction of the price so here I am. I started scouring Craigslist and have accumulated most of the shop essentials without spending a fortune (table saw, band saw, drill press, router, dedicated mortiser, planer, compound miter saw, and dust collector). I am just about to the point where I am ready start on a furniture project and am really excited (not to mention a little nervous…I am a big fan of mission furniture and QSWO is not cheap). I just need to finish up a few shop projects first (router table extension, outfeed table, etc.). I had planned on a morris chair for my first project (based on a set of plans I got from American Furniture Design Co.), but am wondering if this is too optimistic. The plans say “beginner” but there are a number of pretty diffucult elements that give me pause (quadralinear leg posts, angled mortises and tenons). Then again the other projects I have in mind are a queen size bed and a Roycroft inspired magazine stand, which have challenging elements of their own. I guess you have to start somewhere. Anyways, wish me luck.

-- Biscuit (Delaware, Ohio)

5 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4062 days

#1 posted 12-31-2009 05:56 PM

Biscuit, you are right in that we all have to start somewhere. If we simply settle for building projects that are in our “comfort zone” then we will stop growing and developing as woodworkers. Stetching ourselves, as you are going to do with the Morris chair, is the way we learn and develop.

Good luck on the chair. It would make an interesting construction blog when you start building it if you have the time to post it as you go along.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View CaptainSkully's profile


1607 posts in 3798 days

#2 posted 12-31-2009 06:23 PM

Cool! If you’re rightly concerned about building a Morris chair as a first project, I’d suggest just building one at first (LJ’s tend to build his & her pairs). Also, keep in mind that the chair is just a bunch of parts that are small, individual, manageable projects. If you screw up on one (and we all do), just make another one. The problem comes in when you mess up on the nth step and have to do another glue up, another set of mortises, etc. Don’t let this discourage you. I obsess on how to perform various processes for days/weeks in advance and figure out the best way to approach a process (i.e. should I laminate the legs or use a lock miter). Stuff happens in the shop. Dealing and moving on is what makes so many of our fellow LJ’s so prolific.

Keep in mind that as you’re sitting in your chair, year after year, you’ll have forgotten all about the trials and tribulations you went through to build the damn thing. You’ll experience a renewed sense of affection for it every time you see it. Filling a house with hand-made furniture makes it a true home. It also gives you bragging rights and justifies future tool purchases with the war department.

I’m right behind you on the Morris chair, so keep us posted about your journey. We learn as much or more from each others mistakes than from our individual triumphs.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View johnnymo's profile


309 posts in 3446 days

#3 posted 12-31-2009 07:02 PM

Good luck building the chair. Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

-- John in Arizona (but it's a dry heat!)

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3913 days

#4 posted 01-01-2010 01:49 AM

This will be a great blog.

View bench_dogg's profile


63 posts in 3377 days

#5 posted 01-01-2010 04:38 AM

I find myself building smaller projects when I want to experiment with a joint I have not done before, I think it lowers the stress level by not experimenting on something I have a put a lot of time and maybe expensive wood into. I always learn something from doing this and often do things differently (both from a design and execution standpoint) than I would have had I not done the smaller project.

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