Morris Chair and Ottoman

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Project by jtriggs posted 01-30-2008 07:34 AM 3329 views 8 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is my first project posting and wanted my latest one as my first. I worked on this Morris chair and ottoman for about 4 months and waited for another two to buy the leather and get the upholstery finished. This is probably the piece I’m proudest of, with my complete kitchen overhaul a close second. The plans came from Woodsmith and I think the number was #155.

This photo is the finished, in the house, read to sit in and enjoy photo. That’s my cat Butu approving.

The wood is quarter sawn white oak I purchased at my favorite little mill in western Iowa. I think one of the things I enjoyed most was learning something new. That was fuming white oak with ammonia. I read up on the process and decided rather than try to find the aqueous ammonia all the literature said to use, I test plain old cleaning ammonia (18%) from my local fleet and farm. I found that a plastic pail with an inch or so of the solution in a large Christmas tree bag with the whole chair for just an hour and a half produced a beautiful color. I tested several pieces before settling on the time I finally chose. After five hours, the samples were extremely dark. I just don’t think the more dangerous concentrations of ammonia are at all necessary.

With several coats of clear poly and a final of semi-gloss, the finish was just what I wanted. The poly warms up the color just enough to take away that raw, fumed look. The other thing that my tests revealed was that the great ray and fleck pattern of the wood took on a much more three dimensional look with fuming over staining. I describe it as a hologram effect as you tilt the wood in the light. Very cool.

Below is a photo of the ottoman which shows off the grain pretty well.

The joints are all pegged with walnut. I did the upholstery by myself except for the back pad on the chair. My sewing machine can’t handle leather. Luckily I’ve got a friend in town who does leather work. I did up the pad and he sewed the bag with a zipper in it.

I did vary from the plans just a little on the seat pad. After making it according to the plans I thought the seat sank too far, not enough support. I had some 1/4” white oak left that made perfect slats so I screwed them to the bottom of the frame and now I’ve got just about perfect firmness in the seat.

I can’t think of much else to say other than it was a rewarding project and a very nice sitting chair. I even find my wife stealing it too often.

-- Jon --Always remember, never live your life by a motto.

8 comments so far

View cajunpen's profile


14575 posts in 4093 days

#1 posted 01-30-2008 10:37 AM

I am a big fan of the Morris chairs and your blog on the process was very good. Now you have to build one for your wife, so she will leave your’s alone :-)). Someday I will have to try to build mine.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3849 days

#2 posted 01-30-2008 12:52 PM

This is a really nice chair. I am a big fan of arts and craft furniture. I agree that now you need to start on another chair for your wife.

It looks like you mortised all the spindles individually. Is this the case?

By the way I like the walnut dowels. They add a nice touch to the piece.

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

View mrtrim's profile


1696 posts in 3907 days

#3 posted 01-30-2008 01:00 PM

great work j t ! you better consider one for the cat as well , he dont look ready to give it up without a fight ! lol

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4188 days

#4 posted 01-30-2008 01:05 PM

beautiful job.. beatuiful

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View schroeder's profile


702 posts in 4152 days

#5 posted 01-30-2008 03:58 PM

Thats my fav-o-rite chair! – nice job, looks great!

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

View Tim Pursell's profile

Tim Pursell

499 posts in 3809 days

#6 posted 02-05-2008 02:31 PM

Great chair! Very nice work. A chair like that is on my to do list. I hope mine comes out looking a good as yours.


View dorran's profile


140 posts in 3261 days

#7 posted 07-21-2011 08:30 PM

Wow. Turned out great. Thanks for the inspiration.

-- Life is about choices. You can spend a lot of money on furniture and have really nice furniture; Or you can spend a lot on tools and have even more expensive, crappy furniture. I made my choice.

View Ken90712's profile


17563 posts in 3216 days

#8 posted 07-20-2012 04:35 PM

Great job I was wondering how I missed this then realized I was not a member yet when looking at this! You should be proud you nailed it!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

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