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Morris Chair Back - curved or straight?

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Forum topic by Michael James posted 1675 days ago 2656 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Michael James

88 posts in 1675 days


1675 days ago

Hi there,

I’m new to LumberJocks but I must say, it’s the most friendliest forum I’ve ever been a part of.

Anyway, I’ve been planning a morris chair for the past few months and have settled on a plan that I like (American Furniture Design) but am not sure about the back. I’ve heard that some have opted for straight back slats rather than curved. I’m okay with trying to bend, but my bandsaw either really sucks or I just can’t get the hang of it.

My question is, have any of you tried the straight back approach and how has it gone. Please keep in mind, I’m just getting into wood working and have only built a Murphy bed and living room table set (2 ends & coffee from a plan), so I”m a bit of a novice.

I’m thinking making it from cherry and using the Tried & True Varnish Oil as the finish.

-- Michael James - www.michaeljames.ca


13 replies so far

View Eagle1's profile

Eagle1

2066 posts in 1692 days


#1 posted 1675 days ago

Welcome to LJ’S

-- Tim, Missouri ....Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened

View CaptainSkully's profile

CaptainSkully

1190 posts in 2186 days


#2 posted 1675 days ago

I’m right there with you. The curved backs are obviously more difficult, but I’ve heard they’re more comfortable. I think they also look nicer if seen from the back. With that being said, if you add a thick upholstered cushion, I wouldn’t think it would make that much of a difference. Curved slats also waste a bit more wood because you have to mill the tenons while the stock is square, then cut out the curve. I think it would be much more difficult to laminate blanks, then mill the tenons. Loose tenon joinery might address this problem. Hmmm… I think another LJ made their striaght slats run vertically to allow some flexing to simulate curved slats, which I thought was a very interesting concept, if not completely true to the original design.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View Michael James's profile

Michael James

88 posts in 1675 days


#3 posted 1675 days ago

I’ve seen Norm do the bent slats and then cut the tenons, but it was a bit past my skill set. I’m still not sure which way to go, but I do agree, the curved look nicer but unless I can inprove my bandsaw skills, I might have to go straight…

-- Michael James - www.michaeljames.ca

View Dave Owen's profile

Dave Owen

234 posts in 1701 days


#4 posted 1675 days ago

For whatever it’s worth. My 84-year old sister has two original Morris chairs that belonged to our Grandfather. The horizontal members of the back are, of course curved, but the slats are straight. The chairs are beautiful and quite comfortable without using cushions on the backs.

-- Dave O.

View hornhunter's profile

hornhunter

20 posts in 1680 days


#5 posted 1675 days ago

I’m in the process of building the same chair myself. Exactly what issue are you having with cutting them out? I thought about straight slats also, but decided to try curved first( Haven’t got that far yet.). I plan on milling tenons then sawing out as Captain said.

-- Dean, Kinderhook, New York

View Michael James's profile

Michael James

88 posts in 1675 days


#6 posted 1675 days ago

I just really suck at bandsaw work. I’m building a bunk bed right now to hopefully improve my skills before doing the chair and just cut some “straight” slots in the legs – let’s just say, they didn’t turn out straight. Not a huge deal as they’ll be hidden in the end.

I just posted this topic What an I doing wrong? (bandsaw issues) and am looking for help there.

I’m leaning toward the same technique, but a bit concerned…we’ll see, I guess.

-- Michael James - www.michaeljames.ca

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hornhunter

20 posts in 1680 days


#7 posted 1675 days ago

I’m with NBeener, buy a new high quality blade. I went to a timberwolf on my new grizzly BS and it made a very noticable difference. Cut much easier and more accurately. good luck.

-- Dean, Kinderhook, New York

View Michael James's profile

Michael James

88 posts in 1675 days


#8 posted 1675 days ago

I’ll try the tensioning thing and see if that helps. I don’t know if I completely understand what I should be looking for, but I’ll dig around to see. Not sure if I can get those blades anywhere here…I’ll have to see.

-- Michael James - www.michaeljames.ca

View hornhunter's profile

hornhunter

20 posts in 1680 days


#9 posted 1668 days ago

MJ, I am close to cutting my back slats. I was not sure how you were attempting to cut yours out as my plans don’t give a template, they just show an offset at the center of the slat. Sooooo, I calculated the radius length. The outside radius is 40-5/8+/-, the inside a 1/2” shorter. This should give a nice line to follow. Let me know if this helps.

-- Dean, Kinderhook, New York

View rhett's profile

rhett

697 posts in 2294 days


#10 posted 1668 days ago

I make a few morris chair interpretations a year and was originally doing a curved ladder back design. I have since switched to doing a curved crest and bottom rail with two 1/4” x 5” bookmatched slats. I cut deep mortises the thickness of the slats and the entire slat moves in and out with just a bit of flex making for a very comfortable back. Even with 4” foam you can still tell there is some give.

http://lumberjocks.com/projects/26465

-- http://planeandsimpleblog.wordpress.com/

View Michael James's profile

Michael James

88 posts in 1675 days


#11 posted 1668 days ago

@rhett

I’ve seen that chair and loved it. My worry is experience. I haven’t started the chair yet and have only built a couple end tables, coffee table, and a murphy bed (from a kit). I’m working on a bunk bed for my son right now, but following the plan explicitly. Maybe I’m a bit of a chicken, but I wouldn’t know where to start with your design…maybe I’ll still try…who knows.

Are you saying you don’t glue the vertical slats and just let them float?

-- Michael James - www.michaeljames.ca

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Michael James

88 posts in 1675 days


#12 posted 1668 days ago

@hornhunter – if I go that direction, I’ll keep you posted. Good info though…

-- Michael James - www.michaeljames.ca

View Rabbet's profile

Rabbet

35 posts in 1768 days


#13 posted 1666 days ago

I made mine with flat back slats, Since the cushion is so thick I don”t notice.
-Rabbett

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