Wegner inspired dining chair #3: Shaping the back seat

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by kaerlighedsbamsen posted 9 days ago 754 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: More testing and narrowing in + some toolmaking Part 3 of Wegner inspired dining chair series no next part

Feeling that a lot of uncertainties have been cleared away in my last post it is now time to take on the most challenging part of the project: shaping the back rest.

This is where tings are getting a bit complicated. Shapes in 3d is difficult to visualize and shaping takes a long time.

Having done a series of sketches i had a semi vague idea where i wanted to end:

In order to work fast i decided to start using mdf for the first tests. Shaping in a combination of freehand and using dividers to get the curves right. Cut out the resulting shapes with a jig saw:

Glued up and rough shaped wit a rasp this is what came out:

And seen from the top:

Hmm… A bit too wide, too low at the back and those “horns” are not quite right. Next attempt:

And from the top:

Definitely better! Bit still not quite sure about the “horns”. Are they too much? How about just a flat end?

And closer up:

A sharp chisel and a rasp makes super quick work of shaping that mdf. Those japanese saw-files are great and probably the best cost/quality ratio i have ever seen:

These tests have clearly showed some parts that works and some that dont. After some more thinking, more sketches, more coffe it was time to do a test in real wood. Sketching up the shape:

The stock of elm i have is 45 mm thick and that does put some limitations on the construction. Would have prefered to make the back part of only one piece of wood in order to avoid a joint in the middle. Well- not an option. Fiddled wit a suitable solution for a while and settled for a 4 part back jointed with finger joints. Gluing that shape together can be a challenge but found that the work bench vice was a great help:

Lotsa glue…

The back shape is a perfect semi-circle and not having a shaper the TS will have to work. Made this simple jig and took about 3 mm thick cuts:

This left this surprisingly fine surface:

For the inside it is hand tools only:

The narrow parts are easily done with the frame saw:

And after almost 2 hours of chiseling, rasping, spokeshaving, card-scraping and sanding this is what emerged. Now we are talking! A lot better. Nicer curves and “tighter” shape overall. :

Here the whole process in steps:

Another rubberband test:

Was so pleased that i went ahead drilled mounting holes. The legs needed to be shortened a little and realized that the dowel-cutter could be used (same diameter):

And the finished product so far. Now we are talking! A lot better. Nicer curves and “thighter” shape overall. Really comfortable to sit on and those short horns give a nice rest to the elbows while not being in the way while eating/writing:

And from the side:

The finger joints are not super tight and i either need to get access to a real shaper or find another method for making them at the TS. Starting to realize why Wegners furniture makes so heavy use of shapers..:

Thats it for now. I got SO much closer in this step. Not quite there yet but i am starting to feel confident that this will end in some ok nice chairs. I’m a happy woodworker today!

I am still not absolutely sure on the shape and would love to hear you opinion: How about the general shape? Is the back rest too short? Should the chair be narrower at the back overall? Are there better suited (or better looking) joints for the back rest than finger joints? Could it perhaps be steam bent? Let me know what you think!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

9 comments so far

View SPalm's profile


4751 posts in 2480 days

#1 posted 9 days ago

Looks really fine from here. I like the back that you ended up with – the first one had to much of a point. The stubby version looks great. Of course I am not sitting in it, so it is kind of hard to judge the comfort.

Overall the design looks good to me. I have some concern over the tops of the front legs poking me, but only you can report if that seems to be a problem.

Nice job of the making of the back. I don’t have any recommendations for an easier build, but I will think about it.

Take care and congrats,

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View japie's profile


10 posts in 9 days

#2 posted 9 days ago

I don’t know if I’d go to the length of building one, but it seems that for accurate box joints on a table saw, it’s hard to do better than Wandel's jig.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

11063 posts in 1703 days

#3 posted 9 days ago

GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love your process. Thanks, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View ronniebo's profile


75 posts in 1263 days

#4 posted 9 days ago

I`m wondering what Derek will be thinking about your finger jointing on the back rest.
Probably a little envious of your lateral thinking??
He is possibly trying to stay true to the original.
This feels a little like heresy here—-talking behind His back.

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


435 posts in 311 days

#5 posted 9 days ago

Thanks guys! This has been a super fun process and i appreciate all the positive feedback.
@Steve: I had concerns about the front legs as well but decided to go with that design after trying several other chairs. They are not uncomfertable. Could perhaps shave a few mm of the top but it will easily be structurally weak.
@japle: I’m a great fan of Matthias Wandel’s stuff and pondered the box joint jig as well. Might go that route. Problem is- as well- that i’m not sure i like the look of the box joints that much. Perhaps a little too “boxy”..?
@ronniebo: I feel that Derek is a class above my tinkering. He seems, like so many men, to be driven by “i want to see if i can do that” – a drive i have myself as well. In that light it makes perfect sense to make machined joint with handtools. Might even try it myself one day.

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View madts's profile


1233 posts in 937 days

#6 posted 9 days ago

Wonderful. Your own design but very Wegner inspired. I love it.

-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View SPalm's profile


4751 posts in 2480 days

#7 posted 8 days ago

Not sure if this is his handiwork or not, but these splines in the back are kind of cool:

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


435 posts in 311 days

#8 posted 8 days ago

@SPalm: Those are nice splines. Something like that would look nice. Wish i had a larger workshop with all those tools.. Thanks!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View stefang's profile


12568 posts in 1932 days

#9 posted 8 days ago

looks very nice

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics :: gardening showcase