WINDSOR CHAIR

WINDSOR CHAIRПодпись: The top of a Windsor chair seat is traditionally sculpted by hand. With shaping tools like the spokeshave, inshave, and drawknife, it is possible to customize the seat for its user.

The Windsor chair is a study in contrasts. Origi­nally designed as an artless furnishing, it is now con­sidered to be a sophisticated example of modern chair mak­ing. The simple elements of a Windsor—the sculpted seat and the hand-shaped legs, stretchers, arm posts, and spindles—belie the precise engineering required to assem­ble it. And despite its relative­ly lightweight components, the Windsor chair is very strong and durable.

First made in rural south­ern England, Windsor chairs came to North America in the mid-18th Century. Perhaps as a result of its practical design and unsophisticated construction, the style quickly flourished with America’s pioneer home­steaders. The foundation of all Windsor chairs—whether the sack-back version featured in this chapter, the comb-back with its high backrest, or the continuous-arm type—is the solid – wood seat. Traditionally cut from a “green” (or freshly felled) log, the Windsor’s seat represented an important innovation in chair making. In earlier styles, the back of the chair was an extension of the legs. This meant that the rear legs had to be bent to provide comfortable seating and were attached to the seat frame with relatively complex joinery.

The legs of a Windsor chair are not bent. Instead, the back and leg assemblies are independent, anchored separately to
the seat at whatever angles suit its user. All of the chair’s parts are joined with round mortise-and-tenons—a fairly simple joint to produce. Some woodworkers contend that one of the benefits of making a Windsor chair with green lumber is that you can take advantage of the hygroscopic, or moisture-absorbing charac­ter of wood. By drying the leg tenons prior to assembly and fitting them into “wet” mor­tises in the seat, a snug joint will become even tighter. Once the joint is assembled, the tenon will absorb moisture from the wood surrounding the mortise, swelling the tenon and shrink­ing the mortise. Other chair makers choose instead to use sea­soned wood for the seat, which will be less likely to crack as it dries, and reinforce the joinery in other ways. Tbe joints in the chair featured in this chapter are glued and many of them— such as the leg-to-seat joints—are further strengthened by wedges inserted in kerfs cut in the end of the tenons.

A final advantage of building a Windsor chair is that the entire process can be done with hand tools. Although the legs and stretchers can be turned on a lathe (page 89), they can also be shaped—along with the spindles—using a drawknife (page 76) and a shop-built shaving horse (page 78). The seat can be cut with a bowsaw (page 84), then shaved and adzed to its fin­ished shape.

The sack-back Windsor chair shown at left was finished with milk paint, a traditional finish for American Country furniture. Available in powdered form and mixed with water to a paint-like consistency, milk paint reflects the simplicity of the Windsor chair; it is best applied by brush.

ANATOMY OF A SACK-BACK WINDSOR CHAIR

 

Many of the round mortise-and – tenon joints that hold a Windsor chair together are reinforced by wedges. As the illustration at right shows, the top end of the legs, arm posts, and spin­dles are all kerfed prior to assembly; the wedges that fill the kerfs expand the tenons, ensuring that they fit snugly in their mortises.

But a Windsor chair is more than the sum of its parts. For strength and com­fort, it also relies on the interaction of its various assemblies. The legs and stretchers, for example, work against each other to support the weight of its user. The back assembly, with its bow, arm, and spindles, functions in a similar manner. The legs splay out to the sides and are raked forward and backward— providing a broad, stable base for the chair. As with all enduring designs the seat is tilted back slightly, making the chair more comfortable.

The three views of the sack-back Windsor presented on page 73 provide you with the critical angles, spacings, and dimensions. More dimensions appear in the cutting list below and throughout the chapter where each part of the chair is made.

As you prepare your stock, keep in mind that you will not be able to cut some of the parts to their finished length until you begin final assembly. The spin­dles, for example, should all be left at their maximum possible length—22 inches—until you have bent the arm and bow, and test-fitted the spindles against them. In the same way, size the stretch­ers only after test-fitting the blanks between the legs.

 

Arm

Arm posts Bow Legs Seat

Long spindles Small spindles Middle stretcher Side stretchers

 

44“ И" 45" 17" 20" 22" 11 У" 17" UVz"

 

1

2

1

4

1

7

4

1

2

 

2"

IV

IV IV 16" У/ У" 1У" IV

 

2"

 

WINDSOR CHAIR

WINDSOR CHAIR

WINDSOR CHAIR