The Parts in a Chair Kit

The parts for a comb-back stick chair.

Several people have asked my permission to teach classes in making stick chairs using my designs.

My answer is always: Please do. All my designs I give freely to the public for any purpose, including commercial uses. My book on the topic, “The Stick Chair Book,” is a free download for everyone (you don’t even have to register or give away your email).

Listen beautiful relax classics on our Youtube channel.

So here is what students find on their bench when they start a five-day class in making a stick chair. After years of teaching these classes, we’ve struck a balance between “too much Donkey work” and “not enough Donkey work.” We call that balance: Donkey work.

If you want to teach a class of students (or just your neighbor), I hope this is useful.

A red oak seat glued up from two boards.

1 Seat: 1-3/4 x 16″ x 20″
The seat is glued up and cut to shape on the band saw.

Legs: Still lots of work to do on these.

4 Legs: 1-3/4″ x 1-3/4″ x 20″
All four legs are octagonalized. Three of them have been tapered. Students will taper the fourth leg using a jack plane. All four legs need tenons, so there is lots of work there.

Stretchers: Over-long for practice.

3 Stretchers: 1-1/8″ x 1-1/8″ x 27″
These have been octagonalized. They are overlong (way overlong) because the stretchers are the students’ first encounter with a power tenon cutter. So they practice on one end of the stretchers until they get the hang of it.

Long sticks: Sized for a variety of chair designs.

7 Long sticks: 3/4″ x 3/4″ x 27″
These have been octagonalized. Seven sticks allow for a wide variety of comb-back designs. And their lengths permit students to make anything from a Shortback chair to a too-tall comb-back.

Short sticks.

6 Short sticks: 3/4″ x 3/4″ x 12-1/2″
Our tenon cutters make a 2-1/4″-long tenon, so these lengths create a short stick with two tenons that can be trimmed (or not) to do lots of things. They can go through the seat if the students wants. They can be proud of the arm. They can also be used in a lowback chair (which requires a long tenon for strength.

Arms: I trace my recommendations on the pieces. But students don’t have to take them.

3 Arm pieces: 1″ x 8″ x 20″
These three hunks of wood allow for a four-piece arm that can be wide or narrow. And they accommodate a variety of hand shapes.

The comb and the scraps for measuring for stretchers.

1 Comb: 2″ x 8″ x 24″
This chunk of 8/4 is enough for a student to make two combs to experiment with.

4 Triangular scraps (off-fall from octagonalizing the legs)
These scraps help us measure the length of our side and medial stretchers (this is covered in the book in detail). 

Power Poultry: Don’t build chairs without it.

Oh, one more thing for the bench: Usually my daughter Katherine leaves each student a squishy power animal to help them through the week. Never forget your power animal when chairmaking.

— Christopher Schwarz


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