Chair fail lessons..or not #1: Fail or lesson in what I did do

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Blog entry by oldguy2 posted 05-27-2022 09:31 PM 515 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Chair fail lessons..or not series no next part

Well more lesson today..3 photos larger jpeg than allowed. so no dowel joint to ripped apart leg to cross piece. cracked cross piece from pocket screw. don’t you just love it. Well this chair for my grandson Benny has made it through the school year from August to May in his on line school year. I posted it as a project. Now he is 48 inches tall and about 50 pounds finishing grade 4, so not the extra big boy to kill the chair. But he used it every weekday from 7:30 to 2:30 with some breaks. And of course he rocks in the chair. Now it is made of poplar, dowel joints and pocket screws at some corners. I used ideas from the Master Woodworker and Ana White. So now I have had it back in my shop 5 times. Most frustrating to see your project fail OR should I reassess this as in the long term of how many hours and many days ( about 180 in a school year and 6 hours a day ) did my chair really make it thru more than the few hours of playtime most children would give it over a year or two ? I know the time and design effort I put into this chair thinking I would be a success, really who sees a failed project. 17 adirondack chairs and no complaints back, and those were outdoor chairs. cutting boards that stay together. But one small chair to drive you nuts when the lad walks up and says” granddad the chair broke again.” Really piss you off at the chair.
So I will work on the chair at my leisure over the summer. Next year Benny returns to regular school since we hope Covid settles down; it was nice to have him around for 2 years and see the growth and change but he needs the social and more push of regular school.

5 comments so far

View Phil32's profile


1797 posts in 1395 days

#1 posted 05-27-2022 10:26 PM

The chair has a straight back at 90 degrees to the seat. This invites rocking or leaning on two legs, breaking the critical joints where the seat rails connect to the back. The poplar material is simply not strong enough to handle the joints.

-- You know, this site doesn't require woodworking skills, but you should know how to write.

View Eric's profile


5736 posts in 1365 days

#2 posted 05-28-2022 11:08 AM

Have to agree with Phil on thus one. Poplar is hard but not for this type of application. You could try to install some corner blocks under the seat, but it will probably only work for a short time. Good luck on the repairs.

-- Eric, building the dream. the "Loft"

View robscastle's profile


8616 posts in 3696 days

#3 posted 05-28-2022 09:06 PM


hello there,

building chairs like that is OK.
Up to when the kids feet actually touch the floor then as Phil32 mentioned
The design then needs to be modified to suit the prevention of rocking.

You could go for a Sam Maloof minature like I did.

They are years old now and apart from the prototype being hucked out of the cubby house all have survived.
Even my medium size ones live on.

-- Regards Rob

View Watercolor's profile


121 posts in 3225 days

#4 posted 05-30-2022 10:44 AM

Ive built chairs from pine with no failure. Corner blocks and a seat that protrudes into the open portion between the back legs can add strength. A different type of joint like a half lap can also add strength in critical points, but isn’t always necessary.

-- Its not what they call you, its what you answer to.

View Watercolor's profile


121 posts in 3225 days

#5 posted 05-30-2022 10:48 AM

Bridal joint would be a good option also.

-- Its not what they call you, its what you answer to.

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