Roorkhee/Safari Chair

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Project by bwanamdogo posted 441 days ago 2471 views 10 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This wooden chair is patterned on the portable Roorkhee chair used by British Field Officers from the 1880’s thru WWI. Some adaptation from the Safari chair form the 1930’s. I made the frame of rock maple, legs turned and drilled with conical mortise holes, and struts from dowel material. I cut the strut tenons on a table saw jig and sanded them to fit. They are not fastened in the mortise holes, only jam fit and held by the seated occupant so they can be knocked apart to transport the chair. Finish is a rosewood dye and then several coats of polyurethane.

-- Bwanamdogo

16 comments so far

View Paul59's profile


56 posts in 560 days

#1 posted 441 days ago

Great job, and great looking chair.

-- "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather, teach them to long for the sea." ~Antoine de Saint Exupery

View deborelli's profile


79 posts in 869 days

#2 posted 441 days ago

This is really beautiful and neat. Did you follow a plan or do you just have mad skills? Thanks for sharing this bit of history (new) with us.

View bwanamdogo's profile


14 posts in 442 days

#3 posted 441 days ago

Thanks, deborelli. I have as much pleasure in designing as making…’s my own thing, but borrowed from the past. Which means I destroy a lot of wood before it works!

-- Bwanamdogo

View azimmer's profile


4 posts in 621 days

#4 posted 441 days ago

Looks great! Where did you find that lovely hardware?

View bwanamdogo's profile


14 posts in 442 days

#5 posted 441 days ago

I made the hardware from a stock lamp finial from Liberty Brass which already had the nice groove for the keeper ring. Drilled and taped it to 5/16 X 18, sawed off the tip, bent 5/32 brass rod into an eyelet, silver brazed the chain onto the eyelet using a brass finish nail as the keeper, ground and polished the brass nut head and Oh, I knurled the lamp finial before I did anything else. All material, including chain, is solid brass. Doesn’t take as long to do it as you might think!

-- Bwanamdogo

View tsangell's profile


209 posts in 1329 days

#6 posted 441 days ago

The homebrew hardware is my favorite detail. Very cool.

View 489tad's profile


2299 posts in 1647 days

#7 posted 440 days ago

Fantastic! I want one.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View bwanamdogo's profile


14 posts in 442 days

#8 posted 440 days ago

Thanks, Dan. I looked at your beautiful handiwork and would be glad to send you dimensions, etc. if you want to make your own. It does require some homemade tooling. Or I can make one for you! Ken

-- Bwanamdogo

View bake's profile


335 posts in 2313 days

#9 posted 440 days ago

Great chair. I have been interested in campaign/safari furniture for years, or anything else of classic Africana.
I am getting ready to build a pair of Roorkhee chairs based on Christopher Schwartz’s plan in Popular Woodworking. I really like your hardware and I like that you used canvas for the seat as it is much cooler in a hot climate.

-- I love the smell of Home Depot in the morning, it smells like.......carpentry. Bake, Bar Lazy U Woodworks, Lehi,UT.

View bwanamdogo's profile


14 posts in 442 days

#10 posted 440 days ago

Thanks, bake. I did make one from latigo leather but it was not practical for our usage in Tanzania from cost and weight standpoint. The canvas is lighter weight and I can take three chairs in one duffle bag as a piece of checked luggage on the airlines. Our camp is on the Indian Ocean and losing hardware in the sand gave rise to the need for captive nuts and rust-proof hardware. I hope to see your Roorkhee chairs on the project forum! All the best, Ken

-- Bwanamdogo

View bwanamdogo's profile


14 posts in 442 days

#11 posted 440 days ago

Incidentally, Bake, I’d like to know how the Popular Woodworking plans address the conical hole boring operation. I made up some bits for the process, which are rather cantankerous but work ok in a milling machine. I get too much chatter on my 60 year old drill press.

-- Bwanamdogo

View Fishinbo's profile


11217 posts in 811 days

#12 posted 438 days ago

Like it. Great design and execution. It’s great for travelling, very handy and light. Well done!

View Rob_D's profile


1 post in 261 days

#13 posted 261 days ago


Veritas makes a tapered reamer and tenon cutter that are good for this. The blades can be sharpened and replaced, making them an even better deal. I’m pretty positive these are the exact tools Christopher Schwartz uses in the PW article.

The largest set they make, I believe, has a large diameter of 1” and small diameter of 5/8”, so I don’t think they are as beefy as the mortise and tenons in your chairs.

By the way, your chairs are of excellent quality. I’m fortunate enough to own one and use it frequently. I get a LOT of positive comments from my friends and guests.



View helluvawreck's profile


15638 posts in 1502 days

#14 posted 261 days ago

This is a first class project and is so well done. Congratulations.

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

View bwanamdogo's profile


14 posts in 442 days

#15 posted 261 days ago

Thanks for the compliments, guys. I finally had a super-dupper three flute combination drill/reamer designed and made by a company in Ohio which was a real pleasant experience. Those fellows knew exactly what was needed and do first class machine work. I have been able to make quite a few of the chairs and still love making each one.

-- Bwanamdogo

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