Doweled tenon in Stickley chair seat joints

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  • #687232
    Bryan Donovan
    Participant

    Hi, I’m trying to build a simple Gustav Stickley desk chair from an early 1900s design. The description for the seat rails is: “the side seat rails being mortised and tenoned, the front and back seat rails are dowelled, thereby pinning the tenons”. From the drawing, it appears that the front and back seat rails do not use mortise and tenon joints and instead rely on the dowels only. Does that seam right? The rails are 3/4″ (19mm) thick.

    I imagine that instead I can just use offset tenons like Paul does in the dining chair project (I haven’t built that but I’ve watched some of the videos), or miter the tenons like in the “how to build a table” project.

    Thanks!

    stickley_desk_chair_seat

    #687272
    sanford
    Participant

    Odd. It does look as if the dowel is stuck in the front and back rails and then driven through the legs and into the tenon holding the side rails to the legs. That does not look like very strong joinery for a chair. Are there any other supports holding the thing together? I have only made one chair, Paul’s Desk Chair but I would look at a lot of chair designs before committing to mere dowels. If you look at chairs, or at plans for chairs such as Paul’s Dining Chair, you see not only mortise and tenon all around but extra internal supports besides the mortise and tenon. Maybe largish dowels will do if there are other supports as well.

    #687279
    Larry Geib
    Participant

    Show more of the plan. It looks like there are additional stringers in the partial view at the top of your photo.

    If the seat is something like a wooden seat or has an upholstery frame, it may be that the stringer shown isn’t very structural.

    Just a guess.

    #687341
    Bryan Donovan
    Participant

    Thanks guys. There is webbing that will be wrapped across the top and over the sides, which I suppose would help support a bit, but I don’t know how reliable that is.

    stickley_desk_chair_description

    stickley_desk_chair_diagram

    #687345
    Bryan Donovan
    Participant

    I should note that I get the impression that most of the projects in this book are beginner projects. This chair is quite small and should really be called a “child’s desk chair”. Or maybe I’m just tall…

    I’ve been cutting the angled tenons for the side rails today, which are a bit tricky since they’re only about 1/8″ of an inch thick and go almost an inch deep. And I’m making this out of a couple Douglas fir 2x4s I had lying around, which is pretty junky wood (some growth rings are 3/8″ thick and tear out easily). Anyway, it’s not exactly a big oak chair, so maybe stronger joints would be a good idea. This is really just a learning project/challenge (see if I can make something without watching every step Paul makes), so I’m not too concerned if it isn’t perfect.

    #687371
    sanford
    Participant

    Having made just the one chair, I am hardly an expert, but I bet, from the pictures you added, that the dowels holding the front and back to the sides is not supposed to take much strain. The front and back stretchers are a full three inches and are mortised in . Further, the back slat is a full 6 inches and is mortised in. That is a lot of strength. And further again, the upholstery probably adds something. Maybe that is all you need. Of course, lots of Stickley type stuff is made in oak which is pretty strong. I wonder if he was assuming oak for this chair? I find all this interesting to think about and am interested in what the more knowledgeable might say since I might try some more chairs in the near future.

    #687788
    Bryan Donovan
    Participant

    Turns out the dowel question is the least of my worries :).

    FDD77A63-0095-41EC-86B8-43BE17F3C8C4

    #691009
    Cunha
    Participant

    Yeah.
    That plywood is supposed to be curved.

    #691087
    Bryan Donovan
    Participant

    Yeah.
    That plywood is supposed to be curved.

    Ha! Yeah, I did bend it but 90% of the curve came out. First time I had tried bending wood and it didn’t go so well. The back is solid Doug fir, not plywood.. but maybe plywood would have been easier to bend.

    #691100
    Barry B
    Participant

    Hi Bryan,

    a tip that i received about bending wood is to add a bit of fabric softener (downey) to hot water before soaking the wood. this will make the wood more pliable.
    there are several articles on line about this method.

    don’t you hate when the mortise mysteriously shows up on the wrong face. (done that!!)

    regards

    Barry

    #691101
    Bryan Donovan
    Participant

    Oh, thanks for the tip Barry. I hadn’t heard that. I’m about to try bending some wood for a pipe today so I’ll give that a try.

    #691140
    Cunha
    Participant

    Luckily you are remaking the leg with a big knot in it.

    If you want to make a curved piece, laminating a few layers over a curved form would get you there. I am guessing you can resaw from looking at the photo.

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