The arms, which simply screw to the top of the sides, seem unusually long at first. The reason for this becomes readily apparent. The extra length in the back with the holes is part of the adjustment system. These holes work with a piece of 1×3 with dowels in each end to make a stop for the hinged chair back. This is one of the distinctive features of Morris chairs, and this simple implementation is easy to do. I used 1″ diameter dowel pieces glued into recesses in the stop, and bored the arm holes 1 1/8″ in diameter. This allows just enough play to prevent binding. Just remember to install your arms and measure the distance between the holes before boring the stop for the dowels. I also found that it helps to chamfer the sides of the stop slightly to reduce denting by pressure from the chairback. Remember, it IS soft pine.
The back is attached to the seat with a length of piano hinge. You’ll notice that the hinge is offset and attached crudely with plain wood screws – don’t worry, this isn’t permanent. If you’ve ever worked with piano hinge, you know that it’s attached with a large number of small screws. The holding power this provides is much greater than you would think, but the screw holes are a bit fragile. I was worried about installing the hinge, then removing it to paint and then reattaching afterwards. I decided to temporarily install the hinge by offsetting it slightly to one side and using a few wood screws to hold it in place while I checked alignment and “sittability”. After painting, I plan to shift the hinge back to the center and use the supplied brass screws in fresh holes.
If you look at the rear stretcher, you will see a row of screw holes that seem to perfectly match those on the piano hinge. That’s because I was an idiot, and didn’t pay attention when installing the back. I attached the hinge to the wrong crossmember, and then was puzzled at why the back was at such an odd angle. (Sigh) At least this project will be painted. If I had done this on a nice hardwood project, I would have some REAL trouble on my hands, rather than just a few screw holes to be filled. That’ll teach me to pay attention when installing hardware!
After attaching the back, the chair was ready for a test run. My wife sat in it, and pronounced the legs to be a bit long, as her feet dangled about an inch above the floor. I started to remove an inch from the legs, then remembered that this chair would have cushions as well. After consideration, I decided to remove three inches instead, which put me right back where I started as far as leg length. Sometimes a change isn’t necessary after all.
The next step is to remove the back and hinge, and paint everything. It was time to ask my wife the dreaded question:
“What color do you want?”
“Well, I’m not sure. I’ve got to go find some cushions that I like, and then find a shade in them that’ll work with everything else on the back porch. I just don’t know. Maybe if I…”