Morris Chair Lalapalooza #2: Stiles, Back, Arms, Glue-up

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Blog entry by schroeder posted 10-11-2007 06:01 PM 5920 reads 3 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Morris Chair - Part 2 of Morris Chair Lalapalooza series Part 3: The End Products... »

Okay, at this point, legs are glued up, rails, stretchers are cut along with all the mortices and tenons. I decided to make two chairs and ottomans to completion and then come back to the other two. The next step is to cut the stiles and tenon their ends. I planned for 3/8” tenons and cut them at a horizontal router, (although a good backer board and dado setup works as well).

The glue up of each side – the tenons fit tight, so I bevel the ends even before I dry fit. It’s a little tricky getting all the stiles in, but it gets easier, put all in the wide bottom piece first with just a spot of glue so they won’t rattle later (I made sure all vertical grain was facing out), then hold the bottom piece on the bench and resting against your waist, set the top of the arm at an angle and roll on to the stile tenons.

When the sides were glued up, I glued up the bottom part of the chair and added the arm and seat supports.

“You can see in couple of these pictures that the tenon is angled. Since the arms are angled, you have to either angle the tenon or the mortise – I’ve tried both and like angling the tenon better. The table saw works well for these big tenons.”

With the bottom of the chair complete, I turned my attention to the backs – I had already cut the parts and dry-fitted (I do a lot of dry fitting)

At this point I’m ready for the arms. I use an old trick to cut the arms on an angle from a glued up board and block. You cut the top and bottom of the block on a 9 ½ degree angle (same as the rear leg tenon and arm slope).

Next I laid out for the leg tenons and routed the bottom of the arm to fit over the stretcher about a ¼”. I rarely am able to cut a through mortise cleanly on these arms. I use glued up buttons to cover the leg tenons. A dirty trick, but it looks much better than my through mortises. I glue up the button stock in the same way as the legs so that all four quarters show through – they really look end up looking great and experience has taught me that the first thing people do when they sit in these chairs is eww and ahh over the buttons.

So the next thing is to pin all the joints with black walnut dowels. I listened to what Karson had to say about the Veritas Dowel maker and bought one – what a great tool! I sink the hole using a “lipped tip” Brad Point bit for a clean hole with no tear out, drive in the dowel, flush cut and sand.

One last dry fit and onto the ottomans –

To be continued…

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

14 comments so far

View Drew1House's profile


425 posts in 4054 days

#1 posted 10-11-2007 06:20 PM

Awesome… looks like they are really coming along. I will favorite this one and try one someday. (Wife does not like this style so it will be for a gift for somebody someday…


-- Drew, Pleasant Grove, Utah

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3929 days

#2 posted 10-11-2007 06:41 PM

Quite a project you’ve got going there. It looks like it is turning out very good. I like the buttons. They do add a lot of class and yes the customers will ooh and aah over them and not see those things you worked your butt off on. There just ain’‘t no justice.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1804 posts in 4052 days

#3 posted 10-12-2007 04:21 AM

Awesome…you are making things look easy on four that took me a long time on just one.

-- Bob, Carver Massachusetts, Sawdust Maker

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6851 posts in 3946 days

#4 posted 10-12-2007 06:35 AM

Hi Schroeder;

Very nice work. It’s quite an undertaking you have going there, but it looks like you’re approaching it in a production line fashion. Well done.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View WayneC's profile


13753 posts in 4064 days

#5 posted 10-12-2007 07:04 AM

Great looking chairs. Lots to learn in this post.

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

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 3963 days

#6 posted 10-12-2007 08:16 AM

Looking rock solid – this is some serious work you’ve put into these chairs! Impressive to say the least.

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

View schroeder's profile


702 posts in 4092 days

#7 posted 10-12-2007 11:07 PM

Thanks all very much all, its a big project for me, but, man I am having fun! obsessive/compulsive woodworking! (a lot of times I wake up at 2:00 – 3:00 and go to the shop for a few hours and get back home before my little hen even wakes up – thats just sad I know, but at least I’m not killing as much family time ;)

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

View shaun's profile


360 posts in 3872 days

#8 posted 10-13-2007 01:27 PM

Dorje and Tom are taking the words right out of my mouth, that’s some serious work going into these chairs and I often wonder if the customers can appreciate what goes into projects like this. I suppose all that realy maters to them is that they are happy with the end product, true appreciation of the time and craftmanship will come from us, and that you have!

-- I've cut that board three times and it's still too short!

View Brian's profile


79 posts in 3678 days

#9 posted 02-05-2010 01:57 PM

Just found this series and I know this is an oldie but I’ve been trying to figure out what “Next I laid out for the leg tenons and routed the bottom of the arm to fit over the stretcher about a ¼”.” means.

Also, is the arm routed right through for the leg tenons? This way the leg tenon goes partially through the arm and the button covers the top?


View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3543 days

#10 posted 02-05-2010 05:03 PM

Great blog

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View schroeder's profile


702 posts in 4092 days

#11 posted 02-05-2010 06:33 PM

Hi Brian – Hopefully I can help. What I’m referring to with the arm (route ¼”) is once the arm is glued up, I place it over the legs and side rail and mark their outline underneath the arm
Then I route out that portion underneath the arm about ¼” deep so that the arm fits over the leg tenon and the rails.
I cut the leg tenons so they only go about ¾ of the way through the arm. I cut the mortise through the arm for the front and back leg – The tenons (now short), don’t go all the way through, then I cap the tops with my cheater caps – looks much cleaner…
The plans are available in Sketchup Warehouse – the link is;
I’ve included some snapshots here that will hopefully make it more clear what I’m doing.
I hope this helps –
- Schroeder



-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

View schroeder's profile


702 posts in 4092 days

#12 posted 02-05-2010 06:34 PM

Thanks Jim – fun to build these once you get going on them…

-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

View Brian's profile


79 posts in 3678 days

#13 posted 02-06-2010 04:37 AM

Alright, I get it now -thanks a bunch. And that Sketchup drawing is great btw.
I’m making a couple of Bow-armed chairs so I’ll have to think about that ¼” groove idea. Not sure if it’s really necessary but obviously takes care of any gaps between the arm and upper rail/stretcher.
I didn’t do that on my 1st Morris chair and I got a pretty good fit. Besides it’s under the arms.
Morris rocker

Another question -When you routed the through mortises in the arms did you blow right through from 1 side only since you were using your “buttons”?

Thanks a bunch


View schroeder's profile


702 posts in 4092 days

#14 posted 02-06-2010 04:19 PM

Great looking chair Brian! – Nope on the putting the mortise from one side. I set up my mortiser and came in from two sides as close as I could. I could have just left the leg tenon exposed through, but I just think the buttons look better and give a better finish.


-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

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