Irish Chair No. 2: Simple, but Better

After making the first prototype of a boxy Irish armchair, I sat in it for a long time. I circled it like a shark and took pages of notes. The goal with my second prototype (shown here) was to make the chair sit and look better without adding any complexity.

The biggest change was to tilt the back to 20° (the original was at 10°). I’ve found that 20°-25° is ideal for a stick chair for lounging. (The Gibson chair in my office is tilted at 31°, so there is a lot of ground to explore there.)

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I raised the seat to 16”, which is still low but not as shockingly low as my first prototype (14-1/2”). All my other changes to the chair are cosmetic. The legs are octagons. The shaved sticks were made a little differently at the bench, and this really improved their entasis. Instead of rounding over the chair’s corners, I beveled them throughout the piece. The backrest, however, is rounded over for comfort.

Like the first prototype, this one was made with kiln-dried oak scraps. The legs and sticks were split out. The other parts were sawn. I might have $40 of oak in this chair (there is a lot of waste when splitting).

The paint is General Finishes (Fake) Milk Paint in Basil.

This design will be in my next book. I can’t think of any way to improve how it sits without adding complexity. However, I wanted to make a third version that represented how I would build this chair for myself. So I went to C.R. Muterspaw and picked through the piles of unsteamed walnut.

— Christopher Schwarz


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