Does anyone know how the chair shown here was made? I’d like to understand the joint between the seat and the posts. The key things here are that the seat is constructed as a frame, the front legs are tenoned into the frame like on a Windsor chair, and then the frame is somehow set into the rear posts. It looks like it is in a housing of some kind. There is a nail or peg in this chair, but I don’t know if it is a repair or part of the construction. Somehow, this housing plus the tenoned front legs give adequate strength for the chair.
Anyone know? This chair is a spindle chair, but I’ve seen it on unturned posts, too.
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Ed, the chair frame looks to be attached to the rear seat posts by some sort of mortise and tenon. I’ve seen this done on other chairs with turned posts. It’s not hard to mortise the round parts with a simple indexing jig.
Is there also a repair to one of the joints involving a steel plate??
No steel plate that I see. It’s probably a shadow or one of the wood arises that you’re seeing. Could you sketch the mortise you have in mind? Notice that the frame of the seat is running side to side (between the posts). Is the mortise you’re thinking of coming into the post sideways, from the centerline of the chair?
In a chair like that I would expect that each side of the rear seat frame is set into the rear legs with a half-blind housing, reinforced with a very large screw, laterally through the leg, horizontally into the seat frame. The screw-head would then be recessed slightly and disguised with a wooden plug.
I think that the darker wooden plug is shown in the final photo, IMG_3467.jpg
Some years ago Paul Sellers made a rocking chair project video on this site and the arms were fixed to the back posts in the same way….. large screw and a plug
So, the small shoulder of the housing gives all the strength and the screw keeps the frame tight in the housing? Are the chairs durable, or is this a bad approach? I’ve seen a number of chairs made this way. I like them because they tend to be lightweight, whether based on spindle or flat-stock posts.
Most small chairs made this way were commercial cafe/shop chairs, usually termed bent-wood chairs. In fact your chair has steam-bent back legs.
They were mass-produced for decades and the main stress-points were reinforced with bolts or screws. The cheaper chairs had ply-wood seats with holes…. as the quality improved so did the seat materials. Woven rush was much better – I do hope that yours is in good order.
I can see the circular saw marks under the seat – has it a maker’s label? In Europe and the UK, these were generally made of Beech or Ash stained to suit.
The commonest type had a couple of rounded loops of wood for the backs, circular bent wood for mid-stretchers and circular seats – known as ‘Thonet’ chairs after the original designer, Michael Thonet who was born in the 1700s. In time it was accepted as a normal approach for functional chairs.
The 20th century ones used a combination of lap-joints and bolts. Other chair makers are available!
The term ‘Thonet’ is worth a google if you are interested in looking at images….
Good, early Thonets can command good prices at auction.
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