Desk Chairs #2: Chair Legs and the Leg Lamp Major Award

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Blog entry by EarlS posted 12-16-2017 02:50 PM 2049 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Have a seat and let me tell you a story Part 2 of Desk Chairs series Part 3: Spending time with my buddies Mortise and Tenon »

In the spirit of one of the greatest Christmas movies I present the Leg Lamp Major Award

Inspirational isn’t it?

Now on to wood related activities…

First of all, the 4 chairs will be made from Walnut since I have an abundance of it in the wood stack, and I’m out of Cherry.

After poring over the plans and reading and re-reading the booklet that comes with them as well as anything and everything I could find on Lumberjocks or elsewhere on the web I finally broke down and got out the engineering ruler and measured the scale drawing of the back leg on the side of the plans. Why so much effort you ask? The front edge of the back leg tapers from 1-1/2” at the base up to 2” wide over 13-1/2”. Then there is a 4” section that must be perpendicular to the floor. From there, the front side tapers back from 2” to 1-1/4” over 25-1/2” to the final height of 43”.

The back edge of the back leg is perpendicular to the floor for 14-1/2”. The back rest section has a 7 deg angle to the back. After accounting for all of the the angles, final dimensions for the blank for the back leg are 4-3/8” x 1-1/2” x 43”.

Finally, the back rest section of the back leg will taper to the inside from 1-1/2” to 1-1/4” with a beveled pyramid on the top. That will come later.

Making the Sketchup model helped work out all of the dimensions:

I marked out the 13-1/2” and 17-1/2” heights since they are critical to make sure the seat section is parallel to the floor. Then I laid out the the other cut lines so I had reference lines to keep from messing up a cut.

Most folks rough cut the back legs on the bandsaw before cleaning them up on the table router using a template. I chose a different path. I made 3 of the 4 cuts using the tapered cutting jig on the table saw.

The front edges were very easy to set up and cut.

The 17-1/2” leg section on the back of the leg was also partially cut on the table saw.

I considered using the taper jig for the back rest section, but it wasn’t wasn’t well secured by the jig clamps so I cut the back side of the back rest section on the bandsaw. As a side note, there was enough scrap from this section to make the front leg to match up with the back leg from the same board. That was a bonus I hadn’t expected.

A little sanding cleaned up the back side cuts and the back legs were complete. The white board in the middle is the maple template/test piece.

After finishing the back legs, the front legs were cut from the scrap, 1-1/2” square x 17-3/4”. The side rails (1-1/8” x 3” x 14-1/2”) and side stretcher (1-1/8” x 1-1/4” x 14-1/2) were also cut.

There was a little more to cutting the side rails and stretcher. The sides are angled out at 85.5 deg to accommodate the wider front. In addition to the 85.5 deg angle the side stretcher also needs to match the vertical angle of the rear leg.

Starting with the side rails, I set the table saw tilt to 85.5 deg using the Wixey angle gauge and a test piece to dial in the angle. The front and back faces need to be parallel as well which necessitated keeping track of orientation.

Time for the blue tape. At this point I also decided to label everything. In addition to the chair number, the orientation was also included so a leg would read “Leg 4, outside”, with an arrow pointing to the top face.

After cutting the side rails with the 85.5 deg tilt, I angled a miter bar to the angle of the back leg section. The angled face was set against the blade and the bottom face was placed against the miter bar. (re-creation so the blade ins’t tilted).

I used that miter bar on one side of the blade to cut the compound miter cut, then slid the piece to the other side of the blade and used the fence and a regular miter bar set up to cut the side stretcher to length. (re-creation so the blade isn’t tilted). After all of the stretchers for one side were cut, I went through the same set up process for the other side to make sure the compound miter was correctly aligned. Now you can understand the reason for the labels.

With all the legs, side rails, and side stretchers cut it is time to use the Leigh FMT Pro mortise and tenon jig I was finally able to convince my better half that I need.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

4 comments so far

View CaptainSkully's profile


1615 posts in 4634 days

#1 posted 12-16-2017 04:17 PM

I have the same plans and they are on my to-do list. I even have a nice piece of 8/4 QSWO reserved for the backs and a hardboard template. Thanks for sharing your process. I will definitely reference this when I get to it. Loving the blog and the stuff you make.

Don’t shoot your eye out!

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View EarlS's profile


4447 posts in 3424 days

#2 posted 12-17-2017 02:20 PM

Cap’n – let me know when you start building the chair plans. There definitely are some hidden surprises in the plans.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View pottz's profile


16776 posts in 2060 days

#3 posted 12-17-2017 07:52 PM

looking good earl.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View pintodeluxe's profile


6370 posts in 3889 days

#4 posted 12-27-2017 06:59 PM

Very nice, I’m watching with interest.
I have the Rodel plans too, but have not built them yet.
Chairs are a ton of work, but can be quite rewarding.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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