You are currently viewing May 9, 2019 – Making a Windsor Chair by Pete Savickas

May 9, 2019 – Making a Windsor Chair by Pete Savickas

Windsor Chair style is determined by all pieces being attached to the seat. The Stretchers – Push legs apart – they do not pull legs together. They splay out to give form grip. When measuring for stretcher length, measure leg distance and add 1/4 inch so that when put together the stretcher will push legs apart.
Joining legs or spindles to seat is the second worse joint type. Worst is glued end grain to end grain. This is second worst because drilling through long grain with only a small part on the bottom and top causes 90% to be end grain. To get around this problem, the holes are tapered with a reamer – sitting in the chair causes the tapered piece to tighten into the seat. Tapered end is split with a chisel and wedged to provide additional holding. Three methods are used to hold joint together – glue, taper, and split wedge
Front spindle is called a stump.
4 short spindles
7 long spindles
The back bow is curved
The arms are curved
Suggest Mike Dunnbar movies on YouTube for placement
Only the six spindles on the sides are glued
Center 7 spindles float through the center arm
Complete chair is painted, so a mix of woods can be used
Chair is started with the seat
Requires a 4 inch thick piece of wood
Use a template – can be purchased or make your own
Hollow center of seat – Used circular saw set at 3/4 inch to plunge a depth mark
Pete used adz to remove most material
Mark bottom into 5ths – at 2/5ths mark, cut 45 degree angle the at next 2/5ths another 45 degree angle
Pete created his own compass plane to use to smooth seat, then used spoke shave to smooth seat. Used grinder with 100 grit paper to smooth. Relieve the edges of the top and bottom of the seat – used draw knife to remove hard edges & where legs go over the seat
Drilling holes for legs is at a compound angle – used “Bamometer” (?) for diameter and taper
Place first hole for the stump – used brace and spoon bit
Since the seat has been hollowed, use a compound square set to 16 degrees set on top of a carpenter’s square
9/16 inch bit for stump and legs
Used a reamer in brace – can do in cordless, but not the same
Mark seat top to avoid mistaking which side is top.
Once all the legs are assembled to the seat, the back is put on.
Arm is 7/8 x 5/8. Bow is 7/8 x 7/8
Pete found it hard to find green wood to steam. He used pallet wood left in attic to dry.
He steamed the wood for 1 hour in homemade PVC steamer using a 4 inch PVC pipe. One end a glued tin can to close. The other end is plywood – removable. There is a drain in bottom of PVC.
Two holes with liner to keep metal from touching wood (to prevent discoloration) during steaming
Used old truck radiator hose. Used propane burner
Created a jig for forming the steamed wood. Pin and wedge to hold wood in place to dry
Once dried, tie ends to hold shape until ready to use
Doesn’t have to dry completely before removing from jig
Must dry completely before using
In steam bending you have more time than you think – per Michael Fortune, you can still bend as long as it is still warm
Once the arm is bent, glue slightly over-sized block to each end for decorative area – make sure the arm is flat before gluing as steaming may have distorted it – plane to finished smoothness
To form the round bow back – made a rounder plane
2nd stump placement needs to be sighted to insure concentric arch
Use the template for drilling for spindles at specific positions or they won’t fit into arched top
Center spindle is straight as an arrow then to each side the spindles are positioned
Finished with two coats of milk paint
Originally the chairs were painted a bright green – Verdigris
Oxidation over time darkened the color

Joe Kunzman

Joe is a retired CPA and Sr. IT Data Storage Architect. He resides in Lake Helen, FL with his wife Marie. His woodworking interests include cabinetry and building 18th century reproduction furniture. He is also the Florida Chapter President of Society of American Period Furniture Makers. When not making sawdust, he also spends his time building embedded systems with microprocessors, such as Arduino.

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