Greene & Greene Gamble House Side Chair

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Blog series by TungOil updated 04-21-2019 02:44 AM 31 parts 78950 reads 256 comments total

Part 1: Material Preparation

10-06-2017 03:12 AM by TungOil | 7 comments »

Now that my Thorsen inspired dining table is complete (you can see the BLOG here), it is time to turn my attention to a set of chairs. Since I have never built a chair, I decided to enroll in the Gamble House Side Chair class at Marc Adams School of Woodworking in Indiana. Many will know the instructor, Bob Lang, who is not only a Lumber Jocks member but has authored several books and was editor of Popular Woodworking magazine for many years. The chair design is based on the side chairs in...

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Part 2: Marc Adams School, Day 1

10-10-2017 01:20 AM by TungOil | 6 comments »

Today was day one of the six day Gamble House side chair class at the Marc Adams school of Woodworking in Indiana. After 10 hours driving from Eastern Pennsylvania, I was happy to get a good night rest last evening and get started on this chair. Marc has a very large school and there are at least four classes going on simultaneously. Our instructor, Bob Lang, was asked to fill in for George Knutson who was unable to teach the class as originally planned. Bob was able to get the original...

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Part 3: Marc Adams School, Day 2

10-11-2017 01:41 AM by TungOil | 5 comments »

Today we continued to work on the components for the back leg assembly. After tracing the outline of the components on the sapele using the templates, I roughed out the parts on the bandsaw. There is a significant amount of bandsaw work just in the parts for the back assembly alone. The crest rail is the most time consuming part to make. The mortises for the floating tenons were made first using the multi-router, while the part was still square. Next, I affixed the template to the ...

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Part 4: Marc Adams School, Day 3

10-12-2017 12:53 AM by TungOil | 7 comments »

After cleaning up the parts with the ROS, I dry fit the back assembly to see how everything fit. With that much of the chair dry fit, we moved on to fabricating the angled side aprons. The first step is to lay out the mortises on the back and front legs. The front legs have an angled face that has not been cut yet, so the front face cant be used to locate the mortise. I must locate the mortise from the inside edge of the leg. To do this, I work out the location by laying out the ...

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Part 5: Marc Adams School, Day 4

10-13-2017 01:14 AM by TungOil | 5 comments »

Today I finished up the second tenon for the lower stretcher, then cut mortises with the Domino 500. This was my first time using the Domino. Once set up it’s a fool-proof method for cutting the mortises. I did another quick dry assembly to be sure the lower stretcher parts fit together nicely. With the lower stretcher out of the way, I start working on the curved back slats. The back slats will be assembled with dominos, have angled ends where they meet the apron and ...

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Part 6: Marc Adams School, Day 5

10-14-2017 12:21 AM by TungOil | 7 comments »

Today I finished up the center back slat by cutting the mortises for the dominos. Most of the mortises could be cut with the Domino machine, but the two mortises on the underside of the crest rail had to be cut by hand since the domino machine would not fit inside the opening. To cut these mortises I first drilled out the majority of the waste on the drill press then cleaned up the mortise with a chisel. With the mortises cut I tested the fit of the center back slat. It took quite ...

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Part 7: Marc Adams School, Day 6

10-15-2017 02:28 AM by TungOil | 6 comments »

Today was the last day of class. Bob Lang covered several points on installing the ebony plugs and bars in the center back slat. Bob also did a detailed demonstration on techniques for doing the Greene & Greene style round overs, which have some nuance beyond simply running a quarter round bit over the exposed edges. Often the protruding corners on G&G furniture have an extra amount of rounding, almost giving the piece a worn appearance. It is s subtle detail that could go unnot...

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Part 8: Planning the Construction of 12 Chairs

10-30-2017 01:34 AM by TungOil | 14 comments »

Since returning from the Gamble House chair class at Marc Adams, I have been thinking through the construction process for a full set of 12 chairs. In the class, we performed many of the operations with hand tools which can be time consuming and lead to variation in the parts, especially across 12 chairs. We also used the Domino 500 for several of the joints, which I don’t own. One aspect of the project I have been pondering is cutting and cleaning up of the curves on the wide face...

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Part 9: Pattern Sander Setup and Bandsaw Upgrade

11-11-2017 04:14 AM by TungOil | 6 comments »

With my pattern sanding technique proven and a length of UHMW-PE tubing delivered I got to work making a bushing for the spindle sander. I roughed out a 1” piece of tubing to start. There is just enough clearance between the sanding drum and the table insert to fit a bushing. I turned the bushing on the lathe to a nice press into the existing table insert. The bushing provide a 1/4” offset from the sanding drum which will make design of the patterns easier. ...

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Part 10: CAD Templates and Pattern Sanding Test

11-25-2017 03:59 AM by TungOil | 12 comments »

With the new bandsaw tuned up and cutting nicely I got to work designing the templates needed to make the chairs. I worked through the steps to make each part, designing pattern routing/sanding templates to aid each step. Each part has several templates to be used to route the shape, mortises, etc. I ended up with 46 templates overall, a lot more than I expected. I sent the files off to the local CNC shop for quoting. While waiting for my templates I decided to test out my patte...

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Part 11: A Lumber Mill Run

12-04-2017 04:13 AM by TungOil | 5 comments »

The Sapele that I ordered arrived at Hearne Hardwoods earlier in the week. I need about 300 bf for this set of chairs. I can get all of the components for a single chair from one 8/4 board as long as it is at least 9” wide and 10’ long, so I need at least 12 boards. Ed at Hearne brought in 400 bf of wide 8/4 quarter sawn Sapele for me to select my boards from. The boards are all 16-18 foot lengths, and 10”+ wide. At 16 to 18 feet long these boards are too big fo...

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Part 12: Roughing It

12-12-2017 03:29 AM by TungOil | 9 comments »

The sapele has been in the shop for a week acclimating and my CNC cut templates will not be ready for a while, so I got busy roughing out parts. I started with the largest parts, the back legs. A leg blank 7 inches wide will allow me to cut both back legs for a chair from a single board, helping with grain and color match. Several of the boards were a bit over 14” wide, allowing me to get two pairs of legs from each cut length. To be sure I have spare material in case of an er...

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Part 13: CNC Templates and Begin Back Leg Fabrication

12-19-2017 03:52 AM by TungOil | 9 comments »

My routing templates arrived Friday from the millwork shop so I headed out to pick them up. A few of the corners were damaged in transport, so I unwrapped everything to take a closer look. After inspecting the templates closely I was relieved to find that the damaged corners were all in non critical areas. It’s a good thing I made my routing templates a bit long on the ends to have a little lead in. Time to get to work. For this project, I plan to fabricate the back assembl...

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Part 14: Back Leg Mortises and Back Seat Rail

12-23-2017 02:59 AM by TungOil | 10 comments »

Now that the back legs are routed to shape, I move on to cutting the mortises. I start with the back seat rail mortises. The back seat rail sits flush with the inside of the back leg, so it makes sense to cut both mortises using the same setup to assure the parts fit perfectly flush. I first lay out the mortise on the end of the back seat rail setup piece, which is made from poplar. The Leigh FMT jig only requires that the center of the mortise be marked with cross hairs, but as a doubl...

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Part 15: Crest Rails

12-29-2017 04:28 AM by TungOil | 8 comments »

The next component to be made is the crest rail. This part has a complex profile as well as a curved face and back, making it a bit more difficult to fabricate. I begin by laying out the part on all of the faces of my poplar setup piece. The order of operations is critical for this part to assure that everything comes out as accurate as possible. I begin by cutting the mortises. The two mortises in the ends of the piece are easily done using the Leigh FMT jig, as are the two cent...

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Part 16: Center Back Slat- Part 1

01-29-2018 02:24 AM by TungOil | 16 comments »

After finishing up the crest rails, I move on to the center back slats. I begin by making up the loose tenon stock I will need. After cutting the stock to width, I fine tune the thickness with the drum sander and add the rounded edges with a bullnose bit in the router table. I start by making a test center slat from poplar. I cut the angled ends and mortises while the stock still has straight edges. To determine the angles for the end cuts, I use a MDF story stick. By cutting the an...

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Part 17: Center Back Slat- Part 2

03-06-2018 03:25 AM by TungOil | 10 comments »

With all of the stock cut to length, I’m ready to move to the next step, cutting the mortises and curves. I lay out the center marks for the mortises needed by the Leigh FMT on the ends of one piece. Since the ends of the slats are angled slightly, I adjust the Leigh FMT to hold the parts at the appropriate angle. Once the Leigh FMT is set up correctly for the first piece, the rest of the parts are run without any layout work which is a real time saver when making multiple part...

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Part 18: Side Slats

03-20-2018 02:14 AM by TungOil | 5 comments »

With the center slats completed I move to the side slats, arguably one of the most difficult parts of the project. With the center slat already cut, the side slats must be cut very precisely or there will be a gap in the finished assembly somewhere. In addition, both ends of the side slats have a compound miter and must have a mortise precisely placed. Bob Lang’s approach to this in his chair making class was to use a MDF story stick to sneak up on the exact angles and lengths, which wor...

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Part 19: Preparing Apron Stock, a Router Template and Crest Rail Shaping

04-02-2018 03:10 AM by TungOil | 8 comments »

With the side slats cut and fit for all the chairs, I turn my attention to preparing the stock for the side and front aprons. I had rough cut the material for these parts a while ago, but had not gotten to resawing it yet. After flattening one face and squaring an edge on the jointer, I set up the resaw blade on the bandsaw and split the boards into two pieces 15/16”thick. I’ll let this stock sit for a few days before I take it to the planer for final dimensioning. Next I put togeth...

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Part 20: Side Rails and Front Legs-Part 1

04-19-2018 02:28 AM by TungOil | 5 comments »

Rather than dive into all of the hand work to shape the crest rails now, I decide to finish up cutting the side rails. I rough cut my side rail stock a few weeks ago. Now that it has had time to acclimate to the shop, I resaw the 8/4 stock then edge joint and plane everything to 13/16” thick. Since the length of the lower side stretchers is the same as the side rails, I prepare stock for those parts so I can miter and cut them all to length with a single setup of the saw. With the e...

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Part 21: Side Rails and Front Legs-Part 2

05-01-2018 01:37 AM by TungOil | 6 comments »

With the side rail mortises complete, I move on to cutting the front rails and mortises. The Leigh FMT makes quick work of the remaining mortises. Next I trace the cloud lifts onto the side and front rails, rough cut the parts on the bandsaw and clean them up with a spiral pattern router bit. The side rails are matching pairs resawn from 8/4 stock, so I keep them together as I work. A quick test fit shows everything fits together nicely. Next steps: Complete the lower stre...

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Part 22: Lower Stretchers

05-17-2018 02:40 AM by TungOil | 2 comments »

I start by cutting the mortises in the legs for the lower side stretchers. I then cut the mitered ends on the side stretchers and fit the length. With the side stretchers fit I move on to cutting the mortises for the center stretcher. The center stretcher has a through tenon on each end. I set up the Leigh FMT to cut the mortises in the side stretchers, then square up the ends with a chisel. I miter the ends of the center stretcher with the miter saw, then cut the square teno...

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Part 23: Rounding Parts and Establishing Plug Locations- Part 1

05-24-2018 01:37 AM by TungOil | 2 comments »

With the lower stretchers rough cut and the cloud lifts formed, I move on to some of the detail work. First, I round over the edges of the lower stretcher parts with a 1/8” round over bit in the router table. With the rounding complete, I compare 3/16” and 1/4” square ebony plugs for size on the lower stretcher. The 3/16” plug looks better to my eye so I cut 3/16” square holes in all of the stretcher parts using the Lee Valley square punch. Except f...

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Part 24: Plug Locations and Square Holes- Part 2

06-06-2018 01:54 AM by TungOil | 7 comments »

With my plug locations established, I move on to drilling the holes and cutting the square plug holes. I set up stops on the drill press and drill the clearance holes in the front legs, back legs and crest rails. There are 27 square plugs on each of the 15 chairs, for a total of 405 square plugs. After all of the clearance holes are drilled, I cut the square plug holes using the Lee Valley square hole punches. I align the punch with the hole using a long dowel pin, then square th...

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Part 25: Crest Rail Final Shaping

07-11-2018 12:30 AM by TungOil | 18 comments »

In February I was in Pasadena and took the opportunity to visit the Huntington Library Museum, which houses many Greene & Greene pieces. The museum holds one of the living room chairs from the Gamble House and that gave me a good opportunity to study an original up close. The crest rail is beautifully shaped with a lot of rounding and shaping evident. Here is a close up of the crest rail on the original. It will not be possible to create the dramatically swept back profile seen ab...

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Part 26: Shaping and Sanding

12-02-2018 04:17 AM by TungOil | 12 comments »

It’s been a while since I posted an update on this project, largely because I spent most of the summer shaping and sanding. Pretty boring stuff but I thought I’d post a few progress pictures anyhow. The top of the rear legs on the original chairs is quite heavily rounded. To approximate this look, I lay out the shape on the leg with a white pencil. I mark the centerline of the leg as well as the curve on both sides so I have a reference line to work to. The round over is shaped wit...

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Part 27: Back Splat Splines

12-22-2018 02:55 PM by TungOil | 4 comments »

With all of the hand shaping and sanding of the chair parts out of the way, the next step is to fabricate the ebony splines and cut the recessed grooves in the back splats to accept the splines. I start by making a jig to cut the ebony splines. The jig holds a length of ebony securely, allowing me to shape the rounded face of the spline on the router table. I round over the face on several pieces of ebony, then slice off the spline stock to the correct thickness on the bandsaw and repe...

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Part 28: Chair Assembly

02-26-2019 04:16 AM by TungOil | 24 comments »

I do the chair glue up in several stages. First, I glue up the front legs and rail into one sub-assembly. Since the outside edge of the front leg is angled to match the side rail, I use wedges on my clamping pads to apply even clamping pressure. Next I glue up the back legs, rail, splats and crest rail into a second sub-assembly. There are twelve loose tenons to glue and seven parts to align. I have to work fast to get the back sub-assembly aligned and clamped up before the gl...

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Part 29: Corner Bracing and Slip Seats

03-28-2019 12:17 AM by TungOil | 4 comments »

With the chair assembled , the next step is to fabricate and install the corner braces and slip seats. To get the miter angles accurate for the corner blocks, I use a Bora MiteriX angle duplicator. After measuring the angle, one side of the tool is removed to set the miter saw. The resulting angles make for a perfect fit. I add some glue and screw the blocks in place set so the top of the slip seat is flush with the top of the chair side rails. The slip seats are cut f...

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Part 30: Stain and Finish

04-20-2019 01:10 PM by TungOil | 9 comments »

With the slip seats out at the upholsterer, I focus on staining and finishing the chairs. First I set up my temporary spray booth, which consists of heavy plastic sheeting held up with zip wall poles. I cover the floor with kraft paper and mount a fan in the window to extract the overspray. I use a similar finish schedule on these chairs that I used for the dining table in my previous blog. First, two applications of General Finishes water borne dye stain are sprayed on. I quickly wi...

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Part 31: Final Wrap Up

04-21-2019 02:44 AM by TungOil | 8 comments »

Here are the project totals, for those that are interested. Board feet of Sapele used: 3154’ x 8’ sheets of 3/4” baltic birch plywood: 2Number of chair parts fabricated: 285Number of mortises: 720Number of floating tenons: 360Number of square ebony plugs: 405Number of ebony splines: 120Quarts of finish used: 10Hours to complete: 596 What worked well? I spent about 40 hours drawing templates in AutoCAD to be cut by CNC at the start of the project. I made som...

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