Low Back Settee

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Project by Charles Brock posted 10-20-2012 12:46 PM 3409 views 9 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have always wanted to take the Maloof style Low Back Chair and try my hand at doubling it to make a settee. Here is my first in curly walnut. One of the interesting aspects of the project is the obvious question of support for the long seat. A middle leg just ruins this piece and Sam Maloof was able to build his without it. I like a challenge! Using Festool Dominos, I am able add support (And Align) all nine boards that make up the seat. I don’t think biscuits would work to give it enough strength. The real support comes from the massive piece of burled black walnut I cut from a slab (2 3/4” thick) to make the low backrest. I use a the larger Festool Circular Saw and a guide rail to plunge into the slab and cut out the piece I want with the desired grain orientation and figure. It is really a stretcher and helps the seat resist collapse. It was absolutely fun and challenging to sculpt. I start shaping with 24 grit sandpaper and go all the way through 1000 grit (white Scotchbrite pad) with my sanding schedule. The shaping continues with the grinder, a Foredom Industrial flex shaft grinder, Auriou rasps and a multitude of scrapers. This is takes a lot of time to get it to flow. The finish is Masterpiece Wood Finish a three Part Oil and Wax Finish that I developed with a coatings expert for my projects.

I will be at WIA 2012 MidWest (NorthernKentucky Convention Center / November 2 & 3) if you would like to see this piece.

-- Charles Brock

18 comments so far

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3041 days

#1 posted 10-20-2012 01:03 PM

I think that this is a wonderful piece. You’ve done it so nicely and the wood is beautiful.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Charles Brock's profile

Charles Brock

50 posts in 3182 days

#2 posted 10-20-2012 01:09 PM

I like your Woodworking Expo Blog “Hand Tools for Woodworkers”. I’m asked all the time what my tool list is , The answer should be “All of them”!

Thanks so much for your comments!

-- Charles Brock

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 2363 days

#3 posted 10-20-2012 01:13 PM

Charles – That is an absolutely incredible piece. I don’t even have the skill to make one single piece. Your mastery is well reflected in the setee.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View a1Jim's profile


117276 posts in 3752 days

#4 posted 10-20-2012 03:19 PM

A very beautiful work of art ,great work.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Charles Brock's profile

Charles Brock

50 posts in 3182 days

#5 posted 10-20-2012 03:29 PM

James and Charles
Thanks so much for your thoughts. All of us are blessed by doing this work.

-- Charles Brock

View Nicki's profile


5 posts in 2219 days

#6 posted 10-20-2012 03:45 PM

This is a beautiful piece

View Woodbridge's profile


3583 posts in 2592 days

#7 posted 10-20-2012 03:56 PM

Charles, you’ve created a beautiful chair. The grain and figure on the back is so nice.

p.s. I really enjoy your Highland Woodworker videos.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View cathyb's profile


827 posts in 3419 days

#8 posted 10-20-2012 04:21 PM

Gorgeous. It has beautiful flowing lines and is truly a work of art.

-- cathyb, Hawaii,

View Retsof's profile


134 posts in 2410 days

#9 posted 10-20-2012 04:28 PM


-- "There seems to be a black hole in my garage that swallows up pencils and tape measures as soon as I put them down."

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2363 days

#10 posted 10-20-2012 05:33 PM

Another awesome piece ! Exquisite harmony between the various joined pieces. It seems to me that biscuits/dominos aren’t really an issue viz-a-viz strength – since your joints are long grain-long grain, they should already be stronger than the actual wood . . . (but no doubt a help in alignment).

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View Gerry's profile


264 posts in 3415 days

#11 posted 10-20-2012 05:49 PM

Gorgeous! The design, wood matching and grain patterns all compliment each other. Gives me inspiration. Perhaps this will motivate me to try chair building some day…....

-- -Gerry, Hereford, AZ ” A really good woodworker knows how the hide his / her mistakes.”

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10299 posts in 4227 days

#12 posted 10-20-2012 06:45 PM

Beautiful job, Charles!

Thank you for the writeup…

I’m going to take the simple way out…
... I’m going to try to make TWO of the low-back dining chairs…
... (well, I’m avoiding the ‘strength’ issue… LOL )
... Thanks again for your phone help & ragchew… was fun & educational.

Nice to see you posting…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Ralph's profile


167 posts in 2308 days

#13 posted 10-20-2012 09:35 PM

This is a wonderful work of art. Great craftsmanship. Love the lines.
The chair seems to invite you to sit in it.

-- The greatest risk is not taking one...

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3411 days

#14 posted 10-21-2012 01:20 AM


You’ve created another masterpiece that should be in an art gallery! Charles not only makes beautiful chairs, he teaches everyone else to do the same with his book, DVD and template kits. I have both the rocking chair and the single low back dining chair book, DVD & template package. Both packages are complete and have easy to follow instructions to lead the student through the construction process. When I got the DVDs this Summer I didn’t have any 2 1/2” thick slabs to make the chairs from, so I’m waiting for wood to dry to make my chairs.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2864 days

#15 posted 10-21-2012 01:34 AM

An absolutely beautiful settee! I love everything about it from the wood choice to the finish. These always looked very fragile to me when done in the double width like this one but you appear to have addressed that issue.

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

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