Compound Curved Dovetails, Sapele Dining Chair

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Project by Byron posted 783 days ago 3579 views 41 times favorited 37 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Sapele Dining Chair is an attempt to approach seating in a different way. To do this I searched for a design that would leave a cantilevered space underneath the back of the seat. As this is a dining chair the main view will be the back of the chair pushed underneath a table, lending itself to this focus.

The material I work with is very important to my design. Wood is a very warm material both visually and tactilely, and has an inherent beauty on its own. This led me to the challenge of making an all wooden seating surface and back support. Another challenge rose up from this, how to connect the back and seat while keeping the negative space in the back. The solution was a technical challenge I had been interested in approaching from the beginning, dovetails along two curved planes. The compound curves make the connection incredibly strong, not even requiring glue to be supportive (they are glued now). I was able to fabricate the entire chair from one piece of wood and match the seat to the back as it grew naturally.

Growing up in an Italian family we would talk during dinner for hours, resulting in the conversation ending or relocating due to family back problems. Comfort is inherently important for a chair, but the notion of good posture and my family’s dinner dilemma stuck in the back of my mind during the shaping process. The seat and back are shaped completely by hand as are the legs and rails. The chair is very comfortable with a strong lumbar and encourages proper posture.

Sapele Dining Chair is finished with many hand rubbed coats of Bartley’s Gel Varnish.

-- Byron Conn, Woodworking/Furniture Design at Rochester Institute of Technology,

37 comments so far

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12957 posts in 1940 days

#1 posted 783 days ago

very elegant
and exquisite lines

you are truly
a master of your craft

well done

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

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112000 posts in 2176 days

#2 posted 783 days ago

Excellent design Byron and a fantastic build and a beautiful unique chair.

-- Custom furniture

View Byron's profile


92 posts in 979 days

#3 posted 783 days ago

Thank you both, I really appreciate the positive feedback

-- Byron Conn, Woodworking/Furniture Design at Rochester Institute of Technology,

View helluvawreck's profile


15404 posts in 1466 days

#4 posted 783 days ago

Byron, this is an outstanding piece and is simple to the eye yet very elegant at the same time. The back, seat, and legs are so graceful in the side and back views. The whole piece exhibits your skill and imagination. The wood is beautiful and the whole piece invites a person to not only touch it but to also sit in it and enjoy.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

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521 posts in 848 days

#5 posted 783 days ago

Great design and very nice wood character. Great job!

-- list your handcrafted treasures @ for free!

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Ryan Haasen

362 posts in 1000 days

#6 posted 783 days ago

All I can say is WOW! This is such a nice chair!

-- Ryan

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195 posts in 1506 days

#7 posted 783 days ago


Beautiful design! The profile of the legs reminds me of the old Chevy Impala insignia.

Looks very inviting,

-- Cal Noguchi

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Raymond Thomas

180 posts in 817 days

#8 posted 783 days ago

Bryon, an elegantly, beautiful chair – both in design and material selection. It remind me of an African impala ready to spring into action at the slightest hint of danger.

How many hours did it take to create? Are you going to make more for a complete set for your dining room? If so, I would love to see the matching/coordinating table.

-- Raymond, Charlotte, NC -------- Demonstrate the difference!

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1234 posts in 939 days

#9 posted 783 days ago

A very nice design and build, Sir. I take my hat off for you.

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

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1635 posts in 902 days

#10 posted 783 days ago

Wow! Words fail me!

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

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10567 posts in 1289 days

#11 posted 783 days ago

Very innovative design with beautiful wood and amazing joinery. A great job here.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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2567 posts in 1017 days

#12 posted 783 days ago

A stunningly beautiful designed chair. From all angles it looks great.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

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Grant Libramento

172 posts in 1578 days

#13 posted 783 days ago

Beautiful lines and careful joinery. This will become a classic chair.

-- Grant, Tryon, NC

View Byron's profile


92 posts in 979 days

#14 posted 783 days ago

Everyone, thank you for your great feedback. It is an incredible thing to have such positive responses.

-- Byron Conn, Woodworking/Furniture Design at Rochester Institute of Technology,

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45 posts in 1137 days

#15 posted 783 days ago

That is amazing. So creative.

showing 1 through 15 of 37 comments

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