Morris Chair w/Vertical Back Splats

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Project by jjagerson posted 12-27-2011 04:58 PM 2473 views 6 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I decided to build a Morris chair for myself because I am an XL guy (6’6”) and most easy-chairs are just too small. I got some good advice on this site about building a model to fit my frame and preferences and then started building the actual chair from there. The pictures I am sharing here are sans upholstery because I am still making that but I was pleased with the outcome and thought it might be interesting. I am a novice so I thought a few of the lessons I learned would be interesting to anyone else thinking about building something like this. I didn’t use plans but I modeled it after a book I got at the library about Stickley furniture and the arms are based on a design I saw in Popular Woodworking.

Lessons learned:
1. Red oak is NOT white oak. I did not realize this until I attempted to stain a few pieces. If you want the real craftsman look – make sure you buy white oak. Red oak turns green when exposed to a lot of dyes and ammonia. I wound up just finishing it blond with some wiping varnish and am very pleased with its appearance, but the real ammonia treatment would have been nice to complete.

2. I did not have a band saw so I coopered the back’s upper and lower rails to make the back curved. Based on the width and my desired curve I cut each piece with a 2.5degree angle on the edges and then glued them in pairs before gluing all six pieces together. This turned out very well and I was pleased with the solution. I took the rails and jumped on them before making the rest of the back and they were as solid as it gets. I think this will hold for the long term without any issues. I have a closeup of what I did in the pictures (#2). I smoothed the curve out some with a plane and it came out great.

3. Cut mortises FIRST!!! This sucker had so many joints I finally figured that tip out towards the end – duh.

4. I reinforced the back where it attaches to the recliner’s hinges with some supplemental wood. I like the look and it really seemed to stabilize the back nicely. I struggled a bit with where to put the dowels that the hinge pivots on and should have planned ahead a little better for that. Picture #3

5. Cutting the through mortises were a challenge on the arms. I am pleased with their final appearance but there was one side on all four of them (different on each) with a small gap. I have never used filler before but I have to say – it did a great job. You cannot see the gap at all. As it is the friction fit is very tight, plus glue makes the arms nearly indestructible.

I will add a couple pictures in a week once the upholstery is done to show how the the finish came out. I am copying the upholstery from an interesting article about a prairie settle from Fine Woodworking magazine.

12 comments so far

View dpow's profile


503 posts in 2839 days

#1 posted 12-27-2011 06:22 PM

Great looking chair. I like the vertical back slats. Thanks for sharing, I look foward to seeing pictures with the upholstery.

-- Doug

View jjagerson's profile


42 posts in 2972 days

#2 posted 12-27-2011 06:23 PM

Thanks a lot – I should also mention that although I did not wind up staining it very dark – the flecks show up very nicely. The light in my garage sucks so you can’t see it there. I will make sure to get a good pic of that. I wish I had used white oak, but i am not exactly disappointed with the red’s figure and flecking.

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 3551 days

#3 posted 12-27-2011 07:43 PM

Chair looks great, and thanks for the lessons learned

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View Northwest29's profile


1642 posts in 2485 days

#4 posted 12-27-2011 08:19 PM

Looking very good! The lessons learned will be very helpful when I start on mine, which will be a combination of various plans that I have collected over the years. Thanks for the share.


-- Ron, Eugene, OR, "Curiosity is a terrible thing to waste."

View terry603's profile


320 posts in 2908 days

#5 posted 12-27-2011 10:14 PM

nice, always liked these chairs

-- may not always be right,but,never in doubt.

View a1Jim's profile


117090 posts in 3572 days

#6 posted 12-28-2011 02:43 AM

very nice work ,a great looking Morris chair. A real creative approach coopering the back. I finished a Morris chair a couple weeks a go and I surly know about all of those mortise and tenon joints.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View jjagerson's profile


42 posts in 2972 days

#7 posted 12-28-2011 02:51 AM

Thanks everyone.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3668 days

#8 posted 12-28-2011 06:36 AM

Nice morris chair.

View EarlS's profile


1028 posts in 2343 days

#9 posted 12-28-2011 03:34 PM

Very nice work!!!

I was lazy and let my wife talk me into buying a Stickley Morris chair for our living room. Looks like I would have had a lot more fun building it and I would have saved a ton of cash.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View jjagerson's profile


42 posts in 2972 days

#10 posted 12-28-2011 04:38 PM

EarlS – Well if you only count materials it was about $500 including leather ($300 without) to build. But if you count time…. ummm well. Like you said though, it was fun and I did enjoy it very much.

View David's profile


172 posts in 2837 days

#11 posted 12-29-2011 05:59 AM

Nice chair! Any details on that workbench? please share.

-- “Don’t tell me what can’t be done, tell me what you want done then shut up and get out of my way and let me do it!”

View jjagerson's profile


42 posts in 2972 days

#12 posted 12-29-2011 04:54 PM

David – thanks for the compliment. I love that bench. I will take a few pictures and post an entry for it this week. The legs and stretchers are basically 4” and 2.5” laminated strips of OSB. They are joined with halflap joints that are bolted together. Theoretically I could take the whole thing apart and ship it – although I can’t imagine why.

The top is two layers of 3/4 MDF between a sheet of OSB on the bottom and oak hardwood flooring on the top. I laminated it together and then flattened the top with a jack plane. Its also attached to the legs with bolts. The whole things is very stiff and extremely heavy.

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