A good book, a warm light, and a comfortable reclining chair–what more could you ask for? For a woodworker like me, it would also be the satisfaction of making that chair in my shop.
For inspiration, I turned to a famous chair named after William Morris, a mid-19th century English artist whose back-to-the-basics philosophy influenced a later generation of Arts and Crafts artisans. His firm popularized a large chair with high, broad arms and an adjustable back. Other manufacturers soon adopted the style, particularly Gustav Stickley, who transformed it into an icon of early 20th century American design.
I’ve modernized the chair by lightening its lines, adding some curves, and using cherry, rather than oak. The curved arms and back presented the biggest challenge–my solution was to laminate these pieces and form their shape in a vacuum bag veneer press (see "Go New Places with a Vacuum Bag Press"). This sounds like a high-tech piece of equipment, but it’s readily accessible for small shops or individual artisans, the very people Morris and Stickley held in such high regard. I also used a sophisticated machine, the JDS Multi-Router, to make all the joints (see “The Ultimate in Router Joinery”). Neither the vacuum bag nor the Multi-Router is essential to making the chair, however. Lower-tech methods will work fine.
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Stickley Dining Chair
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Recline or sit up straight: the chair’s back has 8 different positions.