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Jensen-style Z-Chair #1: Introduction

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Blog entry by Ross Leidy posted 05-17-2019 08:07 PM 4131 reads 6 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Jensen-style Z-Chair series Part 2: Planning and Prototyping »

Like a handful of other folks here, I’ve been bitten by the bug to build a chair modeled after the Selig Z-chair designed by Poul Jensen back in the 1950’s. I’m a fan of Danish design in general, and for some time this chair in particular has been stuck in my head.

The Z-chair projects shared here were definitely an inspiration, and they provided the nudge I needed to make that crucial first step – deciding to get started. Most notably, I’d like to thank Jamie Skinner (CRUDESKINNYB) for his Z-Chair project and for sharing the detailed photo-journal of his entire build. That was the final straw.

I’m a long-time hobbyist woodworker, but this will be my first chair project. This design is perhaps not the obvious choice for a chair newbie, but the idea’s taken root, so there’s nothing I can do about it now. Plus, I’m already mid-project and I’m feeling hopeful for a successful end. Mores posts to follow to bring the series up-to-date.

Here’s a scavenged photo of an original set of these chairs. My goal is to replicate the design as close as possible.

Authentic Poul Jensen Z-chair examples



19 comments so far

View 489tad's profile

489tad

4080 posts in 4294 days


#1 posted 05-17-2019 11:17 PM

Awesome! I will be following this project as I have a stack of walnut waiting to be Z-ed. It has to wait for some home improvement projects but after that. For me I think the most challenging part is the back slats. Best of luck, I’ll be watching.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

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Ross Leidy

302 posts in 3224 days


#2 posted 05-18-2019 02:58 AM

I’ll be using some cherry that I’ve had sitting around for years. Not particularly pretty, but it was free so it’s perfect for my first-time attempt at a chair. I’ve progressed past the slats at this time, and I’m pleased with how they turned out. The semi-question-mark for me are the arms. That little curved-up edge is such a small details, but takes some head-scratching to figure out how to implement. I have a scheme, but haven’t tried it out yet.

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489tad

4080 posts in 4294 days


#3 posted 05-18-2019 03:46 PM

I agree about the arms. I only have the view of the chair you showed, never the arm shown in the link. That’s what’s fun, trying to figure it out. A few try’s on scrap and you’ll get it.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View Tango's profile

Tango

105 posts in 4836 days


#4 posted 05-19-2019 01:23 AM

Hi Ross,
Sorry that I chimed in too late but I own one original Poul Jensen Z chair that I restored for my daughter about a year ago. The chair has been in the family since the early 60’s.
I can help your project with measurements if you need it.
Great project!

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Ross Leidy

302 posts in 3224 days


#5 posted 05-19-2019 01:40 AM



Hi Ross,
Sorry that I chimed in too late but I own one original Poul Jensen Z chair that I restored for my daughter about a year ago. The chair has been in the family since the early 60 s.
I can help your project with measurements if you need it.
Great project!

- Tango

Tango – wow, what a generous offer, thank you! That would be fantastic. If I’m off in my guestimates, I can adjust for the next one. I do want to build another in the original teak or walnut after I work out the kinks in the process with this first build.

Would you be able to post the measurements here so the next guy in line to build this chair could benefit? Let me put together a list of dimensions that would be helpful and I’ll PM you. Once again, thanks a lot!

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Tango

105 posts in 4836 days


#6 posted 05-19-2019 09:59 PM

I researched a little bit about the Z-Chair before starting the restoration and surprisingly discovered that not many chairs were built using Walnut or Teak. Most of the pieces sold by Selig were stained European Beech (I guess because of the cost). The one I restored was indeed Beechwood.
I was tempted to leave the wood unstained but then I decided to try to replicate the original look.

View jimbobmad's profile

jimbobmad

10 posts in 637 days


#7 posted 03-02-2020 06:47 PM

Hey Ross
Your chair looks really good. Im in the process now of building one myself, I think Ive got most of my measurements pretty close to right but Id be keen to bounce them off you. What thickness did you start on? Im using 22mm but its looking a bit skinny. Also my first (actually fourth) attempt at an arm came out pretty well, but I think my stock is too thin there as well.
Jim

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Ross Leidy

302 posts in 3224 days


#8 posted 03-02-2020 06:56 PM

Thanks, Jim. I started with some rough-cut cherry that I’d been gifted years ago. After surfacing, it was right around an inch thick, so 25mm-26mm – that range.


Hey Ross
Your chair looks really good. Im in the process now of building one myself, I think Ive got most of my measurements pretty close to right but Id be keen to bounce them off you. What thickness did you start on? Im using 22mm but its looking a bit skinny. Also my first (actually fourth) attempt at an arm came out pretty well, but I think my stock is too thin there as well.
Jim

- jimbobmad


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jimbobmad

10 posts in 637 days


#9 posted 03-02-2020 07:12 PM

Thanks Ross. Can you read Sketchup files? If you have time Id love for you to take a look at my drawing and tell me if it seems accurate. Its based on guesswork and the odd bits Ive found on this site .. The arm stock I started out with today was 25mm but even that was too thin, I think it should be closer to 30 .

View Ross Leidy's profile

Ross Leidy

302 posts in 3224 days


#10 posted 03-02-2020 08:44 PM

Hi Jim,

I have a version of Sketchup installed, but I’m not skilled at using it. But I’m happy to give it a try. Keep in mind, though, that I built mine without direct access to a chair. My chair is not going to exactly match the original.


Thanks Ross. Can you read Sketchup files? If you have time Id love for you to take a look at my drawing and tell me if it seems accurate. Its based on guesswork and the odd bits Ive found on this site .. The arm stock I started out with today was 25mm but even that was too thin, I think it should be closer to 30 .

- jimbobmad


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jimbobmad

10 posts in 637 days


#11 posted 03-03-2020 06:25 AM

Thanks again, Im going to finish my current prototype and see how it looks, then make adjustments.

As i mentioned I think Ive made everything a few mm too thin, but Ive done one side already so I may as well keep going. The way it is now I think a heavy person carelessly sitting on the arm would break it .. it’s only 18mm thick at the thinnest part.

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jimbobmad

10 posts in 637 days


#12 posted 03-03-2020 06:41 AM

Also, I have the arm as a flat bottomed piece, there’s no extra thick bit on the underside that’s shaped to meet the long diagonal … if that makes sense ?? I see on yours the arm is actually even more complex than I had guessed. I don’t have a band saw at the moment so thats going to be interesting …

PS Im using some B-grade Kiaat (a local hardwood) for this version, just until Im happy with the design. If I keep this one Ill stain it dark.

View Ross Leidy's profile

Ross Leidy

302 posts in 3224 days


#13 posted 03-05-2020 01:12 PM

Looking good, Jim. Best of luck with the rest of your build. Consider creating a blog post to share your progress!

View RyanMaly's profile

RyanMaly

2 posts in 32 days


#14 posted 10-28-2021 05:58 PM

Beautiful work Ross! I’m interested in building one myself. I’ve spent countless hours scouring for dimensions but haven’t been able to find anything that comes close to your accuracy of the original.

Would you be willing to share the 3d model or template files? I know you put a ton of work into designing, so Id pay for them.

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Ross Leidy

302 posts in 3224 days


#15 posted 10-29-2021 12:58 AM

Sorry, I double posted. Response below.

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