Morris Chair

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.


2 Responses to “Morris Chair”

  1. Barry Simon says:

    How did the bending go after one and a half hour of steaming for an inch thick piece of wood? Do you or can you share your bending fixture for this beast? I can not imagine the force to bend it. I have done 1/4 inch thick pieces and laminated them using clamps on a template for my wooden canoes.

    Please send a picture of your set up if you can. Good work by the way. I love steam bending wood but never that thick and not for furniture so I am just curious.

    Thank you,


  2. Walt says:

    The bending goes OK. I will include pictures in the future. I went through a lot of trial and error getting the bend right as there is a lot of spring-back. My jig is fairly simple. I have heard that putting a little fabric softener in the water helps, but I haven’t tried that.
    Thanks for reading

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