STRETCHERSTurned stretchers span the gap between the legs of the rocking chair shown at left. Apart from enhancing the appearance of a chair, stretchers provide structural support and can occasionally be designed to serve as footrests. Stretchers are usually made in the same way as the legs; in the example shown, the legs and stretchers are all turned. It is best to stagger the height of the stretchers; this way, the mortises in the legs will be at different locations and will not weaken the legs.



Turning the stretcher

Cut your stretcher blanks a little longer than their final dimen­sion, mount a blank between centers on your lathe, and position the tool rest as close to the stock as possible without touching it. Use a roughing gouge to turn the blank to a cylinder, then turn off the lathe and mark the center of the blank with a pencil. Turn on the lathe and use the gouge to taper the stretcher from
the centerline toward the ends. Support the tapered section with your free hand to prevent chatter (above). Once you are satisfied with the shape of the stretcher, dry-assemble the legs and mea­sure the gap between them at the height of the stretcher. Trans­fer your measurement to the blank, remembering that you must add a tenon at each end of the stretcher (step 2).


3Kerfing the stretchers for wedges

Cut a V-shaped wedge out of a wood block, creating a jig that will hold the turned stretchers steady as you kerf the tenons. Cut a kerf about halfway along the bottom of the V, then place the stretch­er in the jig and clamp the jig to your band saw table so the middle of the tenon is aligned with the blade. Holding the stretch­er flat in the jig and positioning it so the kerf will be perpendicular to the grain of the leg, feed the stretcher into the blade. Stop the cut about И inch from the tenon shoulder. Leave the stretcher in place, butt a stop block against the kerfed end, and clamp it to the jig. Kerf the remaining stretchers the same way (right), stopping when the stock contacts the stop block.


Turning the tenons

Use a parting tool to turn a tenon at each end of the stretcher (left). To ensure a snug fit, make the diameter of the tenon equal to that of the bit you will use to bore the mortise. The length of the tenons should equal about one-half the leg thickness. If the tenons are too long, trim their ends.


STRETCHERSng mortises for tenons on the drill press

Подпись:simple setup shown at right will help you ust the angle of r drill press table to bore the holes for retchers in the legs a stick chair. Pry-fit in the seat and ciamp a board to two adjoining legs, positioning the board at the height where you will locate the stretchers. Then adjust a sliding bevel so the handle rests flush on the board and the blade is butted against one of the legs. Use the setting of the bevel to set the angle of your drill press table. Repeat for the remaining stretchers.




Подпись: v.v/jSTRETCHERS Turning the stretchers

Outline a square section at the middle of both stretchers, locating the marks at least 1 inch beyond the shoulders of the half-laps. Then mount one of the stretch­ers between centers on your lathe. Start by using a skew chisel to define the square section (page 102) and a roughing gouge to turn the remaining portion into a cylin­der. Repeat for the other stretcher. Once both stretchers are turned, place them under the chair legs as you did in step 1, this time with the pieces joined at the half-laps. Use a try square and a pencil to mark the points where the stretchers will enter the legs (right), then finish turning the stretchers, adding tenons and kerfing them for wedges. Secure the stretchers in place (page 105).


1 Determining the angle between the front and rear legs

Подпись: Front eeat railПодпись:

Подпись: Front leg Подпись: 2 Measuring the angle of the front leg surface Dry-assemble the chair, set it on a work surface, and use a second sliding bevel to measure the angle between the table and the inside face of the front leg (left).

Because the front and rear legs of a frame chair are typically set at an angle to one another, and the surfaces of the legs them­selves may be tapered or curved, you need to make a compound cut at the ends of the stretchers. This will ensure that the stretchers fit flush against the legs. To measure the angle between the front and rear legs, set your seat template (page 26) on a work surface and mark a line from the middle of one front leg to the middle of the rear leg directly opposite. Adjust a sliding bevel to the angle between the line and the front seat rail (right).

STRETCHERSSTRETCHERSПодпись: ?• V ■* ■» ■і І* f |i ■ і «і »* r Ш Ф if «И і III I 111 II) « •I'. Ill a »/ in in iii-

Подпись: ш Подпись: 3 Setting up the table saw and cutting the stretchers Transfer the angle from the sliding bevel you used in step 1 to your table saw's miter gauge and to the outside face of the stretcher blanks at the front-leg end. Use the sliding bevel from step 2 to adjust the table saw blade angle. Also transfer the angle to the top edge of the stretcher at the front-leg end (left). Cut the front- leg end of both stretchers, using the miter gauge to feed the stock. Then repeat steps 1 and 2 to set up the saw for the back-leg ends of the stretchers and cut the stock to length.
Подпись: 4 Marking the dowel joints between the legs and stretchers Position one of the strechers between the front and rear legs and mark a line from the middle of the stretcher onto each leg (right). Repeat for the other stretcher, then extend the lines on the legs to their inside edges.


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STRETCHERSПодпись: Wood padSTRETCHERS5 Drilling the dowel holes

Fit an electric drill with a bit the same diameter as the dowels you will use to join the stretchers to the legs. Bore a hole into each leg. The dowel holes should be slightly more than one-half as deep as the length of the dowels. To prepare the stretchers for the dowels, secure one of them end up in a bench vise with the cut end per­fectly horizontal. Then, holding the drill perpendicular to the end of the stock, bore a hole of the proper depth into the stretcher (left). Repeat at the other end of the stretcher and at both ends of the second stretcher.

Installing the stretchers

Dab glue in the dowel holes and insert the dowels into the stretchers. Fit the stretchers between the legs as you are gluing up the chair (page 49), then clamp the assembly (below), aligning the bar with the stretchers and using wood pads to protect the legs. Taper the wood pads as necessary so they rest flat on the legs.





Like other components of a chair, such as seats, rails, and legs, the arms and backs must be tai­lored to the shape and needs of the chair’s user. Because they also con­tribute to both the support and the comfort provided by a chair, arms and backs are arguably the most de­manding parts to design and build.

By definition, all chairs need backs; the arms are optional. Tradi­tionally, dining chairs with arms were used only at the head and end of the table. These chairs often had higher backs, endowing the user with a more imposing presence.

Since chairs with arms cannot be posi­tioned close to a table or set dose together, they are seldom used along the sides of tables. Hence, armless chairs became known as side chairs.

Woodworkers rely on several methods to attach arms to the frame of a chair. As shown on page 112, arms can be separate assem­blies added to the chair after the frame is glued up, or made an

The chair shown at left features extended post arms, giving the basic frame chair design a more formal appearance. To ensure that the arms do not crowd the chair’s user, the seat is made a little wider than it might otherwise be. The back features slats similar to those made in the Frame Chair chapter (page 43).

integral part of the structure, as in the continuous arm of the popular Windsor chair.

This chapter will also explain two options for chair backs: the cane back and panel back. (Two versions of the slat back are shown in previ­ous chapters. See page 43 for instructions on building a vertical slat back suitable for a frame chair, and page 61 for information on making a horizontal slat back for a slab-and-stick chair.) Both the cane back and the panel back employ a crest rail along the top and a back rail across the bottom to support the panel or the cane. In building chairs, the need for form to follow function quickly becomes evident. It is important to position the crest rail so it will not interfere with the user’s head. As well, the back rail should feel comfortable against the lower back. The chapter on Frame Chairs (page 22) includes a detailed explanation of the joinery involved in installing backs.







Подпись: &

Attached to the front and rear legs with dowels or mortise-and-tenon joints (page 114)

Attached to the rear legs with dow­els or screws; fixed to seat rails with arm posts which are doweled or screwed (page 116)

Fastened to rear legs with dowels or screws; attached to seat rail with a separate post


Mullion hack with decorative crest rail

Turned mullions are mortised into underside of crest rail and top of seat, much like straight frame chair slats (page 43)


Cane back

Framed at top and bottom by crest and back rails, and on sides by vertical mullions (page 119)




Made like an upholstered seat (page 78>) and installed in a rabbet cut around perime­ter of back frame










A Windsor chair continuous arm

Made of steam-bent solid stock or a bent lamination; secured to the chair with spin­dles that are mor­tised into the seat


Attached to the rear eqs with dowels or screws; fixed to seat with arm posts which are mortised into seat and underside of arms


Panel back

Panel can be cut with a band saw and carved, if desired (page 121)


Turned mullion back with shaped crest and back rails

Mullions are installed between the crest and back rails











Scrollwork panel-back

An embellished variation of the plain panel back shown above; the carved-rail back­rest was typical of the American Chippendale style of the late 13th Century


Vertical – slat back

A typical back for frame chairs (page 22)





This section describes two methods for attaching arms to a frame chair.

In the technique shown below and on page 115, the inside edges of the arms are flush with the outside edges of the seat. To keep the arms from crowding the chair user, the chair seat should be made wider than normal; 3 inches extra is about right. In addition, the front legs must be a few inches longer—high enough to extend above the seat and be

The separate arm on the frame chair shown at left was attached to the rear leg post with screws. The fasteners were coun – terbored and concealed with wood plugs.


joined to the bottom of the arms. If you are using this method, remember to prepare the front legs for the arms before assembling the chair.

In the second method (left and page 116)y the arms are supported by a sepa­rate post which is glued and screwed at the bottom to the side seat rails. The arms are then doweled to the post and screwed to the rear legs. This type of arm is built with the help of templates.










Preparing the legs for the arms

Turn the legs on a lathe as you would for a side chair (page 102), but make the blanks several inches longer. The added length (the section to the right of the dotted lines in the illustration above) will enable the leg to extend above the seat and accept the bottom of the arm. Once you have turned

the extended-post segment of the leg to a satisfactory shape, use a parting tool to produce a round tenon the top end of the leg (above). The tenon will be glued into a hole in the bottom of the arm. When both legs are turned, you can glue up the chair.




2 Making the arms

Prepare two pieces of solid stock as arm blanks. Then, holding one of the pieces in position against a rear leg and the front leg on the same side of the chair, mark the outline of the arm with a pencil (left). Design the arm to be both comfort­able and visually pleasing; its horizontal section normally should be 8 to 9 inches above the seat. Make sure the bottom of the outline is centered on the tenon you turned in step 1. Cut out the arm on your band saw and use it as a template to out­line and cut the other arm. Drill a hole in the bottom end of each arm for the front leg tenon and another in the top end for a dowel joining it to the rear legs. Shape the arms to suit the design of the chair and sand their surfaces smooth. This type of arm can also be made as a bent lamination as you would to produce rockers for a rocking chair (page 130).

Clamping block ^




Installing the arms

Test-fit the arms on the chair. Their ends should lie flush on the legs; sand the ends to fit, if necessary. Remember to drill dowel holes in the rear legs. When the arms are ready to be glued up, cut clamping blocks that will enable you to apply pressure squarely on the arms. At each front leg, cut two blocks, each with a curved edge to follow the contours of the arm and a flat edge to accept the clamp jaw. Apply glue to the tenon on the front leg and the holes in the arm, insert
the dowel into the rear leg, and fit the arm in place. Clamp the blocks to the arm, then install a bar clamp to secure the arm to the front leg, placing one jaw on the block and the other on the bottom of the leg. Tighten the clamp until the joint is snug (above, left). At the rear leg, clamp a single block to the arm, then pull the joint snug with a second clamp, placing one jaw on the block and the other on the back edge of the rear leg (above, right).



Making the arms

Because separate-post arms curve outward as well as down­ward, making them requires two templates: one representing the top view of the arm and the other showing the side view. Outline each view on a piece of К-inch plywood or hardboard the same length as the arms (above, left). The shapes should suit the design of the chair, but make sure the inside back end of the arm is flat so that it can be fastened flush against the
outside face of the rear leg (step 5). Once you have completed the outlines, label them and cut them out on your band saw. Then trace the outlines on adjacent faces of two arm blanks, making sure the back ends of the outlines are aligned at the same end of each blank. Also ensure that the outlines on the blanks are mirror-images of each other (above, right). Band saw the arms as you would a cabriole leg (page 99).



Making the posts

Make the posts as you did the arms, producing two templates, transferring the outlines to two blanks and cutting them on the band saw (right). Both ends of each post should be flat; the bottom is fastened flush against the outside face of the side seat rail (step 3) and the top is attached to the underside of the arm (step 4). Sand the arms and posts smooth.


Attaching the posts to the side seat rails

To help you position the posts against the side seat rails, test-fit the arms and posts in place. Once you are satisfied with the placement of the pieces, mark the post location on the rail. In the example shown above, each post will be fastened to its rail with a countersunk screw 4 inches from the front end of the rail. Drill a clearance hole for the screw shank through the corner
block and the rail. Enlarge the top of the hole with a larger bit to recess the screw head and use a smaller bit to bore a pilot hole into the bottom end of the post. Then, holding the post in place against the rail, screw it in place. Repeat with the other post (above). Leave the screws a little slack for now so you can trim the posts or adjust their positions later, if necessary.


Preparing the arms and posts for dowels

Drill a hole into the center of the top end of each post slightly deeper than one – half the length of the dowels you will be using. Insert a matching dowel center into the hole, then position the arm against the rear leg, align the arm with the post, and press the arm against the center (left). Its pointed end will punch an indentation into the underside of the arm, providing you with a starting point for drilling the dowel hole. Before moving the arm, outline its position on the rear leg so you can reposi­tion it properly later. Drill the matching dowel hole in the arm to the same depth as that in the post.




5 Attaching the arms to the rear legs

Test-fit one arm on its rear leg and sand the end of the arm, if necessary, so it lies flat on the leg. Once you are sat­isfied with the fit, counterbore a clear­ance hole for a screw through the leg. Then, holding the arm in place against the leg, drive the screw until its tip scores the arm. Remove the arm, drill a pilot hole at the marked point, and fasten the arm to the leg (above), leaving the screw a little slack so you can lower the arm onto the dowel in the post (step 6). Repeat for the other arm.


6 Gluing the arms to the posts

Dab a little glue into the dowel holes in the posts and arms, and insert a dowel into each post, tapping it down with a rub­ber mallet. Lower the arm onto the dowel and secure the joint with a clamp (right). Finish tightening all the screws.








Updated: March 16, 2016 — 11:11 pm