Now that the Krenov smoother is finished, I’m able to turn my attention back to the outdoor Morris chairs. As I mentioned in the first installment, I found the plans through Popular Woodworking, and my wife liked them enough to want at least a pair. So, this first one is the testbed that will tell me what to correct the next time.
One of the great virtues of this chair is the ultra-simple construction – just glue and screws. Another is the fact that only common dimension lumber is required – 1×3’s, 1×4’s, and 1×6’s populate the entire cut list. Finally, the shape is (to us anyway) more comfortable and, more importantly at our age, much easier to get out of than the classical Adirondack chairs usually associated with outdoor furniture.
Of course, I have to make a couple of modifications. My wife, upon consideration of the dimensions, decided that she wanted the chairs to be a little taller to ensure ease in exiting. Accordingly, I added 3” to the height. The only cuts that this affected were for the four legs, but several other dimensions for attachment of other components had to be modified as well, so it’s a good idea to sit down with the plan and make your notes accordingly if you decide to do the same. In the end, it proved unnecessary, but we’ll come back to that later.
Rather than the heavy columns of a traditional Morris chair, the legs for this one are made by gluing and screwing two boards together in a “T” configuration. The only trick here is that the top of each assembly has to beveled at a 5 degree angle. A power miter saw is excellent for this, and indeed is my tool of choice for this entire project. If you examine the above photo carefully, you can see that the two outside (back) legs angle up from the flat back, and the two inside (front) legs angle down from the flat front. Be sure to think this through before making your cuts, or you may end up redoing the back pair (ask me how I know!).
These leg assemblies are attached to two stretchers to form the sides. You can see in the photo the slope of the top of the chair side. The lower stretcher is clamped in place and secured with glue and wood screws. I chose Titebond III for this project for maximum water resistance with a minimum of fuss. The screws would probably hold everything together, but the glue will prevent the subtle movements that cause screws to work loose. The project’s going to be painted, so the plugged screwholes won’t be a factor.
The last step in assembly of the sides is the addition of the top stretcher. Since the sides are angled at the top, the top stretcher must be tapered. I accomplished this by measuring up from the bottom stretcher and clamping the top stretcher in position at this point. I then marked the lines of the tops of the legs, connected them with a straightedge, and cut the taper on the bandsaw. This was followed by a few passes with a hand plane to smooth everything up, and glue and screws again.
Here you have the finished sides with all the screwholes plugged. Next time, we’ll add the side slats and put the join the sides together to make the full framework. Stay tuned!