Archive for the ‘furniture stories’ Category

Morris Chair

Friday, February 11th, 2011

OK  As promised, here is the story of how my Morris Chair came to be.  First, here is a picture of it.

Bow-Arm Morris Chair and Ottoman

It started out that I wanted to make one.  I had not sold one or anything, I just wanted to make it.  I Kind of had an idea in my head of what I wanted it to look like, but I was unsure of the dimensions.  I had worked for Bill LaBerge off and on and had worked on Morris chairs there, but I didn’t want to copy his. (A real nice chair, by the way) I had an idea of the basic dimensions, but not the details.  Since there is a lot of rather expensive wood in something like this, I wanted to keep trial and error to a minimum.  Then I found a plan for sale and took a chance.  It worked out great.  It gave me the critical dimensions I needed like where to place the pivot for the seat back and the like.  I made my first one and put it in a gallery.  The gallery owner suggested some changes and I made another.  This one was a winner.  I ended up selling quite a few of them to Scott Jordan Furniture in Manhattan for some time.  They must have gotten a cheaper source for them or started their own production because I haven’t heard from them in a long time.  Anyway, that’s how they came to be.  I have probably made 25 of them and I haven’t changed them a bit.  I have added a straight arm version though.  I like it a lot.  It’s new so I haven’t made nearly as many of them.  Here’s a shot of it  This one is Sapele wood.

Flat-Arm Morris Chair

Now, As I said in my last post, I am starting a new chair and would document the process.  I bent the arms the other day.  They are 6″ wide and about an inch thick.  I steam them for about an hour and a half in a simple steamer set-up.  It is a turkey fryer with a gas can and radiator hose.  The box is just plywood which holds up surprisingly well.  Here’s a picture of it.

Steamer Set-up

You kind of have to keep a close eye on the water in it.  There isn’t a sight glass, so I add water after an hour.  I don’t have a shot of the arms in the forms.  I will next time though.  I will also be working on the chair so check back.


The Sleigh Bed

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Of all the pieces i have made over the years, I probably get the most comments on this sleigh bed.

I have to admit, it does have a certain elegance about it.  It all started out with a phone call from a second home-owner not far from my shop.  He had a sleigh bed in his house but didn’t like it.  It had a large footboard and blocked the view out the window.  He want me to make him one with no footboard.  We discussed it for a while and I got to designing.  I liked the lines of his and used them to influence my design.  His was factory made and not very well done.  I thought I could do a better job.  He had some other furniture in the room out of red birch and we settled on that.  It was one of those times where he asked if I could make that and I said sure.  Then when he gave me a deposit and I got to thinking about it, I thought “Holy shit, how am I going to do that??”  Really though, if you take even the most complicated piece and break it down into it’s elements, it gets a lot less complicated.  The first thing to do was draw it out full size.  Once that was done, I made a form for the slats.  The slats were designed as a lamination with four layers 1/8″ thick.  I had to rip the pieces, keep them in order, take them to John’s shop to sand, sand them, bring them back to my shop, stack them up and glue them all without changing the order they were in.  I wanted to re-glue them in the order they were cut so they wouldn’t look like a lamination.  That was a complicated process.  Now I have my own wide belt sander so the process is a lot easier.  I made patterns for the four posts and pattern cut them with a router.  Next was the top rail.  It is 3 1/2″ thick and round with a flat where the slats are mortised in.  That was all hand shaped.  I started on the table saw and got it to 12 sides and went after it with a hand plane and sandpaper.  A couple of hours later, it was round.  Everything ended up coming together fine and it ended up being a lot easier than I thought it would.  Here is the result.

You can see some of the view he wanted to preserve.  As soon as I got it done, I thought I wanted to make a version with the big footboard.  I got to work designing the foot.  It is the same as the head, just smaller.  I got to work.  The result exceeded my expectations and I couldn’t have been happier.  I made it queen size, (the original was king) and brought it to a few shows.  Turns out, If I had made it king also, I could have sold it several times.  I ended up keeping it for a while but it ended up not far from here.  I have made both versions of this bed several times since which is satisfying in that It seems to be appreciated.

Anyway, that’s the story of that bed.

On another topic, I think I am going to do the MS ride again so check here and I will put a link to where you can donate.  I only have a few weeks to raise $500.

Thanks for sticking with me.

Greene and Greene Sideboard

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

Hi all.

I said one of the things I was going to do with this blog is tell you the stories behind some of the furniture I have done.  The first one I am going to write about is this sideboard.

Greene and Greene Sideboard

It started with some leftover white oak from another project.  I had a brain fart and ordered way too much lumber.  (math was never my forte)  Anyway, white oak is very traditional in Arts and Crafts furniture and I wanted to do a sideboard.  I have made a few sideboards and they usually do well at shows.  I knew I wanted to do this top.  It is a classic Greene and Greene design.  I just didn’t have a design for the rest of the piece.  I don’t ordinarily do a faithful reproduction of a piece but prefer to do my own interpretation.  I drew this sideboard up on the computer and then drew it full sized on paper.  Seeing it full sized, I quickly realized it was too big.  I adjusted the size and started cutting.  As Iwas cutting and roughing out the carcase, I spent a lot of time standing back and looking at it and bugging my wife, Michele, to come down to the shop and look.  She has a good eye for design and always has good ideas.  We bounced around a bunch of ideas and the piece started taking shape.  I got thinking about the details I wanted and came up with this inlay.


It’s real ebony wood.  The square pegs are ebonized walnut.  This is a cool process.  To ebonize wood, you soak rusty steel in some vinegar for a couple of weeks.  Strain it through some cheese cloth and paint the vinegar on the wood and it turns black.  Try it, it’s cool!! 

Anyway, I was real happy with the inlay and got the rest of the piece put together.  Then it came to the handles.  I couldn’t find anything I liked.  I went through every catalog I had.  Michele went through them twice.  She picked out some maybes but nothing that rocked me.  That’s when I decided to make something.  I thought about it, studied it, thought some more and studied it some more.  Finally I came up with these handles.


They are real simple, but work well.  They are square with faceted ends set into two square pyramids and wrapped with copper wire and ebonized with the vinegar process.  I really liked them and showed them to Michele.  She really didn’t like them and tried real hard to talk me out of using them.  This is one time I didn’t listen to her.   I get more good comments about them than anything else on it.  She still doesn’t like them.

So, that’s how this piece came to be.  Unfortunately, it’s still looking for a home, but eventually, the right person will see it.  I did make a second one for a woman in California though.  She saw this one on my website and wanted one in cherry.  We put some outrageous bird’s-eye maple in the door panels and drawer fronts.  She loved it!!.  Here’s a picture.

Cherry Version

Some of the details are a bit different but you definitely get the resemblance.

That’s it for now.  Hope you’re still with me.