Outdoor Morris Chair 4 – Back ‘Er Up

Morris Chair 8
The back of the chair looks more complicated than it is.  The basic frame is composed of two horizontal sides tied together with three crossbraces.  You can see their locations from the screw holes on the sides in the photo above.  The 45-degree cutoffs to the bottom corners allows the back to recline properly.  Dimensions for it aren’t given in the plan, but I made it about half the width of the end, and it worked out about right.

The wide horizontal pieces frame in the ends of the vertical slats that make up the surface of the back.  The only real trick of making the back is to position the two crossbraces that frame the open area so that these horizontal pieces only cover about half of the edge, leaving the other half to screw down the vertical slats.  You can see in the photo above that the crossbrace on the left is peeking out from under the upper horizontal piece.

Morris Chair 9
The five slats are quickly cut to length and spaced across the gap between the horizontal pieces.  Once again, I made a quick jig to make this go easier.  For this operation, I attached a couple of supports across the width of the jig to allow it to hang in the space between the slats.  This time, I started from both sides and worked towards the center to keep the outer edges flush.  Somehow, the center slat’s space ended up about 1/8 shy on either side, but I simply centered it in the opening, and no one (except you, dear readers) will be any the wiser.  As they say in boatbuilding, “If it looks fair, it IS fair.”

I ran into a little problem with the vertical slats.  As I indicated, they are simply screwed into the crossbraces at the end.  The problem is that pine wants to “blow out” when you counterbore for the screws.  If you look closely, you can see one such incident at the bottom of the leftmost vertical slat.  Fortunately, this piece will be painted, so this won’t be as much of a problem, since it will all be plugged, filled and sanded anyway.  Still, it’s vexing.

Morris Chair 10
Of course, no matter how hard I tried, the slats didn’t line up perfectly with sides.  This necessitated a bit of planing once everything was plugged and trimmed.  Bo-Bo, one of the latest generation of Shop Helper Kitties, is a great help with this.  Not only does she check my work for good flush edges, but she’s absolutely delighted with the thin wispy shavings my new Krenov smoother produces.

Next time, we’ll do the arms and adjustment mechanism, and do a temporary assembly to check everything prior to painting.  Stay tuned!


6 responses to “Outdoor Morris Chair 4 – Back ‘Er Up

  1. I’m in the process of building this same chair out of oak. I have only gotten so far as milling the lumber, and I was worried about the exact problem you encountered with the plugs near the ends of the seat backs. I want to apply a clear finish so it won’t be an easy fix as with painting. I think I may add an extra horizontal piece at the top and bottom of the vertical slats to avoid this. Do you know of a better way or one without adding material and therefore more weight?

    • Kevin, in retrospect the best thing I can think of is to cut your pieces oversize, mark and drill the holes, and then cut to final length. This means a tricky final cut, since you’re only lapping half a board, but it should solve the blow-out problem.

      • That would work, but I was also thinking about the plugs being so close to the end visually. Since I’m putting a clear finish on it they will be noticeable. I was thinking of maybe using a darker wood like walnut for the plugs to make them stand out even more, but I don’t think it’d look too great unless I can located them all properly. I’m probably trying to over do it for a chair like this. The screwed together construction is really geared toward a paint finish.

        I am also thinking of trying to integrate some arches into the piece like is often done with Morris chairs (maybe the front stretcher and top of the seat back). My wife thinks it looks too square as is. Again, I may be over doing it for this project.

  2. Pingback: New Little Good Pieces blog post: Outdoor Morris Chair 4 – Back ‘Er Up : LumberJocks RSS feed

  3. I am in the process of building this chair – I used a Kreg jig for the back slats and then filled the holes with the Kreg pine inserts and sanded everything – just make certain that each slat is perfectly cut to the exact length of the others. No bowing and the back is perfectly square. At this point, I have not made the back frame.

  4. I have now built two chairs, the pocket screws for the back slats works well. On the second chair, rather than use the expensive Kreg inserts, I filled the pocket hole with plugs cut from a 3/8 dowel. The pocket holes are on the back and with good sanding, they are not noticeable Better than trying to use plugs on the front side.. The chairs are heavy and I think the seat is a little long but they work OK. The real pain is painting the pine once the chair is completed. But as a beginner, this was a fun project – I used standard and select pine except for the arms, then I used 5″ quality pine

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