I'm planning to make several dining chairs. The seat will be the most
challenging part and the key part of the chair since it will need to
firmly secure all the legs and back spindles. I need to start with a
block of (probably white) pine 15" x 15" and 1.5" thick. Should this
be a solid piece, or how should this be constructed (glued up)? I'd
appreciate suggestions or reference material. The chair I'm trying to
somewhat replicate is an Enfield Shaker dining chair (circa 1834).
My initial instinct was glued up but your choice of wood gives me
pause. I've never worked with a high quality eastern white pine. (I
use the cheaper stuff for upholstery frames). A little googling seems
to indicate the shakers liked solid wood seats. If you can get some
furniture grade 8/4 eastern white pine, then I'd think you'd want a
My concern would be securing the spindles so they last. Have you
thought about how you'll do that? You might heat them first (in a can
of heated sand) or maybe wedge the tenons. I'd lean toward the first
Thanks. You're right about the Shakers using solid pieces. My main
concern here is stability of the wood and possible splitting. However,
a solid piece may look better.
I made a settee 8 years ago and secured the 18 spindles (1/2"
diameter) to the pine seat and the top rail using Elmer's Woodworker's
glue. The legs (1" diameter) were inserted into through mortises and
wedged with walnut pieces. Everything is holding well, although the
pine seat now shows some acceptable wear, nicks and dents. My plan is
to do the same with the dining chairs.
The best, and most detailed, article I ever saw about carving a chair bottom
was from an old FWW article about bow backed Windsor Chairs.
FWW 109, Nov/Dec 1994.
"Bowback Windsor Step by Step"
by Harriet Hodges
You will probalby have to join to get the article from Taunton, but I
wouldn't want to carve a chair seat without taking another look at it. With
the exception of the chair back, the legs and seat are almost identical to
the Shaker chair and probably attach in the same manner.
If you can't get it, e-mail and I'll scan the applicable part for you.
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