Morris Chair Lalapalooza #1: Morris Chair -

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Blog entry by schroeder posted 10-10-2007 05:14 AM 5070 reads 4 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Morris Chair Lalapalooza series Part 2: Stiles, Back, Arms, Glue-up »

…So I decided to take the plunge and make something for sale…on spec…I like the Morris chairs so that’s what I went with. Always a timeless classic, clean lines, and fun to build! I brought forth the Visa and bought $3000 worth of white oak (this is my first venture into the “professional” arena). I planned on building 4 chairs and ottomans. I’m not going to quit my day job, but thought I’d give it whirl on the side…The first thing I can tell you is everything that everyone has been saying about going “pro” is true,…I’ve worked 16 hours a day for the last 3 months (literally, and loving it!) not complaining mind you, just validating everything that has been posted recently about going full time.

So at any rate, I thought I’d blog the process as I know the lovers of craftsman furniture like the Morris design and I thought it might help those who want to build along those lines. I’ll try and go through the steps, but have really detailed info if someone wants help building one. First as I say I took the plunge and bought some clear, quartersawn white oak. Then picked a basic plan to go off of, ( I used the Woodsmith design as a starting point). Then started picking boards for legs, I wanted quartersawn on all four sides, so I used an old trick and glued up qtr sawn on all four faces (lostsa pix…that’s what I like, so I hope it works for you as well…)

At this point I cut and glued up for the legs (16), I made them big enough so I could joint and plane them down to final size…

Once the legs are glues up, time to cut the mortices, I’m fortunate enough to have a dedicated morticer, so after careful layup (a mistake would be bad here) got them all done. I like through mortices as I planned to pin all the joints. My goal was to create a piece that had no metal whatsoever in it, and really, once you get going, through mortices mean all the legs are the same (you don’t have to worry about left and right, back and front).

That is how the legs looked from the top, after gluing, morticing and cutting tenons.
At this point, I cut all the parts for 4 chairs and cut the mortices for the stiles.

I start from the center, then put in as many stiles as I want, always keeping an odd number so as to keep it centered.

I am also fortunate enough to have a “Multi-Router”, I cut all the tenons on this machine. The first couple of chairs I built, I used a table saw and it worked fine.

So begins the story. I hope to encourage all the woodworkers who are a fan of the “craftsman line”. Some one on LJ has a tag that goes something like; “everything is difficult, until you know how…” This chair design was my personal test of my abilities; they are not super easy to build, but straight forward, very fun and rewarding.

To be continued….

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

9 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4368 days

#1 posted 10-10-2007 05:18 AM

Great set of pictures Schroeder.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4282 days

#2 posted 10-10-2007 05:23 AM

Good job! That spec thing is kinda crazy…good luck. I’ve had my best work never sell. Other stuff that didn’t sell well, but generated some orders. Somethings I didn’t even want others to see get snapped right up…go figure.

View WayneC's profile


13753 posts in 4065 days

#3 posted 10-10-2007 05:26 AM

Good luck on your venture. I’m sure you will be successful.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View cajunpen's profile


14575 posts in 4033 days

#4 posted 10-10-2007 09:21 AM

Thanks for sharing your dream. I am very interested in how you do – not that I have any dreams of going into business, but I am very anxious to tackle a Morris chair. I wish you success.

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

View schroeder's profile


702 posts in 4093 days

#5 posted 10-10-2007 12:10 PM

Thanks – I did do some “pre-sales”, I took two previously made chairs to a local furniture seller and offered to sell him two per year, he agreed. That would offset my costs, leave me and two chairs to sell out-right, and have a nice quantity of oak left over for other projects. Since I’m not doing this for a living, I can afford to take chances with my labor costs.

As I approached the final stages of the chairs, I started seeking clients. The first person I thought of immediately bought two, another is tentatively sold and I had a cold call to build the one chair and ottoman from Black Walnut. I also built two end tables that compliment the chairs, partly because they flow well together and I thought the clients would be interested – and they seem to be. The remaining oak chair, ottoman and end table are set up to go to a local gallery for display, and I don’t know what will become of it.

The chairs I’ll make better money on though because I made four at once and only two of the tables. I like making something I’ve made before because my skill level increases with each. I also enjoyed making a “batch” of Morris chairs because, to me, they are just fun to make.

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1804 posts in 4054 days

#6 posted 10-11-2007 12:14 AM

I’m considering building paddles to sell. The morris chair is too big for my small shop to do any kind of production work. Sounds like the sales are working out pretty well.

-- Bob, Carver Massachusetts, Sawdust Maker

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6851 posts in 3947 days

#7 posted 10-11-2007 01:02 AM

Great work Schroeder!

Finding a back up sales plan is a great idea for spec projects. I have several clients I can call after building something, which is pretty reassuring.

But, more often than not, I end up giving it away. Surprisingly, this leads to more work. Friends of the reciprient will often call after seeing , (and hearing), about this nice gesture. A win / win situation.

There’s a saying, if your can’t afford to market it, give it away. Seems to work.

Have fun, and good luck!


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 3964 days

#8 posted 10-12-2007 07:46 AM

You’re at it again! Looking forward to seeing the final chairs…

Looks like a pretty time consuming process! Hey – I can’t tell…on the “quadralinear posts” for the legs, did you glue the lock-mitered quartersawn stock around a piece in the center – or did you just “plug” the top because it will be seen through the arm?

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View schroeder's profile


702 posts in 4093 days

#9 posted 10-19-2007 12:20 AM

Thanks all – Gorje – I used lock-mitered w/qtr sawn stock (worth the effort in my opinion)

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

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