A chair for my office #1: First construction photos

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Blog entry by Dan Lyke posted 02-27-2008 08:25 PM 1198 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of A chair for my office series Part 2: Got the backslats in »

Sunday night we were going to start on the bathroom vanity, but Charlene didn’t feel like hanging out in the shop, so I went out to make some sawdust. We’ve got a bunch of spare birch, so I took the scrappiest of it and started to push the limits of how I interacted with our tools and wood. This is where I’ve gotten to so far.

I had a chair for my office, one of those standard el-cheapo office chairs you get from the big box stores, and it broke. Then we moved, in the process getting rid of a lot of furniture that we didn’t like the style of, and I’ve been sitting in a cloth “director’s chair”, which works fine, but isn’t really doing it for me. I wanted something comfortable, with a back that fit my back, that I could curl up and put a leg under my butt in, and that had a seat angle and size that worked well for me.

When I was a kid, I remember a day of skiing where I was trying to not fall. Towards the end of the day my Dad asked how I was doing and I said, kind of dejectedly, that I’d fallen twice, and he said “that’s great!”, I asked why, and he told me, not knowing my goal for the day, that every fall meant I was pushing my abilities. It’s a wonder that I got through my later teen years, and survived the incident that finally told me that even though I still didn’t know where the limits of my physical abilities were, I didn’t really need to find out, but I approached this project similarly: It’s all about going to places where I make mistakes, and figuring out how I can fix them.

So I started out really organically, cutting the shape of the back supports that I thought would fit my back, sitting on a stool and using the tape measure to figure out how long I thought something should be. I’ve got some bevel cuts that I’m trying to do with the Festool saw on a rail to curve the back slat supports, and obviously I need to cut those square pieces into curves and then route quarter-round profiles on everything so that I get a good organic feel to it, but it’s coming together fairly well.

All the joints are “loose tenons”, which really means I’m cheating and using the Domino (this is the first project I’ve used it for), and I’ve gotta say: That is one flat out incredible tool. With most tools, and even the router table, I’m concerned about my setup. If I have to cut two pieces to a specific length, I make darned sure I only put the stop on the saw fence once. I’ll jump through tremendous hoops to not reset a router stop between routing two pieces.

With the Domino? Oh, yeah, I forgot that I needed another mortise at 7.5° to that edge, okay, let’s dial that in and plunge it…

Anyway, just wanted to get this picture off my camera, more as the chair gets further along.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

5 comments so far

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4866 days

#1 posted 02-27-2008 08:48 PM

I’ll be waiting for the rest of the story.

I don’t think you cheated, you would have cheated yourself if you hadn’t used

that fabulous tool you bought yourself, so you could cheat. ;)

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 4480 days

#2 posted 02-27-2008 09:03 PM

What’s a tool for if not to be used?

James Krenov would call your organic method of design as ‘composing’ ie: making it up as you go along, as it suits the purpose, as it suits the wood you are using.

I like the chair as it is already. At first glance it reminded me of a rabbit…but I suppose you must put a back on it if it to be useful as a chair – but maybe keep the ears, it’s rather whimsical.

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4555 days

#3 posted 02-27-2008 09:42 PM

Looks like you are on you way. Looking forward to seeing the rest.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4691 days

#4 posted 02-27-2008 10:37 PM

Steve, I hadn’t looked at it that way, but now I’m trying to think about how I can do the back slats some way that keeps that feel…

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4727 days

#5 posted 02-28-2008 01:17 PM

nice story behind this chair already!
(good life lessons from your Dad as well )

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

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