methods of work #28: Armchair armrest design

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Blog entry by Loren posted 12-14-2013 09:06 PM 1080 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 27: Dining chair design - trying out front legs for the armchair Part 28 of methods of work series Part 29: Fitted tool tray made with the overarm router »

Finalizing the geometry of the armrests. This was real tricky to figure out which way to go and I spent a lot of time thinking about how to approach it aesthetically. I didn’t think an arm that was a slab sitting on top of the front leg would agree with the rest of the chair at all. Finally I had to give up on the arm being very wide at the front. The slight bulging upwards of the arm is an optical illusion. They are on a flat plane but curved outwards.

The arms are alder. I stained them quick with some aniline dye I had on hand to fool my eye. They came out looking amazingly very similar to the walnut… though absent the purple and other highlights that make real walnut so interesting.

6 comments so far

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2282 days

#1 posted 12-14-2013 09:13 PM

The best chairs throughout history always have the arms follow the contour of the seat.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Handtooler's profile


1553 posts in 2127 days

#2 posted 12-14-2013 10:08 PM

Sure looks comfortable. I can’t really see or determine the contour of the back slats, biu they appear curved properly to support the lumbar. As our family is short of stature we perfer shallow seats a bit lower than most production chairs. That appears GREAT! Did you hand form the seat with the use of an adz? Thanks for sharing.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343

View theoldfart's profile


9699 posts in 2446 days

#3 posted 12-14-2013 10:19 PM

Loren, the design seems perfect. I have one quibble/question. You have exposed joinery on the arm and none elsewhere, is there a concern that the eye will be drawn to the joint rather than the chair? Can’t wait to see the completed product.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View Loren's profile


10380 posts in 3643 days

#4 posted 12-15-2013 02:15 AM

I was going to use blind tenon on the arm but then I was looking
at short grain on the front… I even made a sample arm with
a through tenon as I considered using wedged though tenons
as a detail. I like the way a broad end on the arm feels under
my fingers but I could not figure out a straightforward way
to have that on this chair without introducing a level of
what I’ll call dissonance to the design.

I’ve thought about the exposed joint. Since the arm is right
out parallel with the front leg, extending it out further would
be sort of a sin against space. It can be done and certainly
has been, but if you look you’ll see that often the front
legs are set back on the sides, using a slab seat, so the
extended arm ends aren’t protruding beyond the front of
the seat.

To my thinking at this time the exposed saddle joint is
the most honest way to deal with it. I may be wrong –
time will tell and I’m sure I will build variants in the future
that approach the arm differently.

The seat is a slip-seat dropped into a rabbet. What you
see here is a water-stained piece of 1/4” hardboard
salvaged from the trash. I haven’t yet dealt with
making the slip seat proper from foam and 6mm
veneer-core plywood with slots cut in it for flexibility.

The arms are sliver-moon shaped, then carved out on the
inside top and and the outside bottom so they appear
thinner at some angles. There’s an aspect to fairing
the curves where I’m looking at the curves from every
common angle and trying to carve away any bumps
or awkwardness.

This isn’t a very good picture. Look at Hans Wegner chair
arms to get an idea of the kind of shaping I’m doing here.

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3081 days

#5 posted 12-15-2013 02:25 AM

Your prototype is starting to look like a very comfortable and good looking chair. Thank you for sharing
the journey with us. Now we just have to wait and see what the finish will be.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3330 days

#6 posted 12-15-2013 09:49 AM

A very nice looking chair Loren. I love the shape of the arms, they are really the right finishing touch to this design.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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