Stickleyish Side Chair

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Project by David White posted 05-30-2014 05:14 AM 2380 views 6 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hey All,

This is my first chair project and I am quite pleased with it. It is the prototype for a set of 6 that I plan to make in the next 6 months or so (followed by the matching table).

It is made from American White Oak and is based on the Stickley 353 side chair, but with some key differences – it is a little narrower at the back and slightly taller than the 353. The back splat has a rounder curve has two narrow pieces and one wider one in the center rather than having all three the same. It also has less pronounced curves on the aprons than does the original.

The finish is 2 coats of Briwax spirit based light oak wood dye (love that stuff!), 3 coats of wipe on poly that I tinted with the dye (4 coats next time) and 2 coats of clear wax.

The final pic is the Sketchup model I made before embarking on the project – I have to say I could not have made the chair without having the model – it is SO helpful in getting you to understand how the joinery hangs together.

This chair was really good fun to make. I wanted a project that would challenge my skills and this one did just that, but it also turned out much less difficult than I thought it would – whew! Having said that, I learned A LOT doing this project – about wood, about joinery, about finishing, about my tools and about of course about chair making. Perhaps most of all I learned what mindset it takes to start a challenging project and end up with a piece that I am proud of.

My plan now is to make a set of 6. The new ones will be a little taller in the back than this one with a longer back splat and will be very slightly narrower across the back. It will also have a degree more lean to the back. I aim to improve the grain matching too.

If you have any suggestions as to how else I might improve on this design, I would be very happy to hear your ideas.

I’ll probably blog my progress here on LJ’s and you can find a few other musings about woodworking on my Word Press blog –

PS – Who knew it was so hard to photograph a chair and not have look like it was made for a midget?


11 comments so far

View David White's profile

David White

120 posts in 4084 days

#1 posted 05-30-2014 05:49 AM

By the way, I forgot to give a big shout out to Bob Lang for his book:Great Book of Shop Drawings for Craftsman Furniture, Revised Edition: Authentic and Fully Detailed Plans for 57 Classic Pieces from which I got the original dimensions of the Stickley 353.


View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4451 days

#2 posted 05-30-2014 07:49 AM

Grain selection is pretty important with woods like oak in
forms like chairs. Using quartered stock is a nice way to
do it. I go further and rip quartered slat blanks over-wide
so I can band saw the grain run-out off one side then
rip to width… they look great.

I’m not wild about the radius of the scooped out rails.
I would prefer something shallower.

If you can bear to move away from the stark linearity
of the legs, a little taper looks elegant.

Could you consider moving the bottom stretchers lower?

I look at a lot of chairs. I’ve made a few… check my
projects and blog.

View jakub76's profile


56 posts in 3275 days

#3 posted 05-30-2014 10:30 AM

Beautiful piece, David. You should be proud.

View schroeder's profile


702 posts in 4928 days

#4 posted 05-30-2014 01:08 PM

Great chair David! – wonderful craftsmanship! – any chance you could link up the sketchup plans? – I’d steal that!


-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

View Tork's profile


7 posts in 2384 days

#5 posted 05-30-2014 06:19 PM

Gotta love the Stickley—great execution.
How did you do the back rails? Did you bend or saw the curve?
Only thing that’s distracting me from the fine form here is the grain of the oak, esp. on the front seat rail. Can you get q/s? Or make your own q/s veneer?

View David White's profile

David White

120 posts in 4084 days

#6 posted 05-30-2014 10:30 PM

Loren – Great feedback – thank you! Good point re the gain, and thanks for the suggestion about moving the bottom stretchers down a bit. I think that’s a good idea. I think the pics might make the rails look more curved than they are – the curve is less than an inch deep – but you are right, they could be shallower still. I like the straight legs as I think it is true to the Stickley form.

Schroeder – I’ll upload the file onto my blog and send you the link.

Tork – I cut the them from a piece of 50mm stock and then cleaned them up with a bobbin sander. The hardest part was laying out the mortises for the back splat pieces. I’d love to use 1/4 sawn oak but here in New Zealand its impossible to get. I might need to think about the veneer idea though!


View AandCstyle's profile


3283 posts in 3060 days

#7 posted 05-30-2014 10:40 PM

I agree with Loren; I would lower the stretchers a bit. Also, you might consider running a cross stretcher half way between the front and back legs since you only have the front rail providing strength against racking, similar to the Rodel chairs.

-- Art

View Mean_Dean's profile


7047 posts in 3950 days

#8 posted 05-31-2014 12:18 AM

This is a great looking chair, especially for you first effort! I’m looking forward to seeing your next set of chairs!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View Dark_Lightning's profile


4142 posts in 3912 days

#9 posted 05-31-2014 12:51 AM

Nice chair! I love anything Craftsman. I’d also be interested in more information on that device hanging on the wall in picture #3.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View tinnman65's profile


1405 posts in 4217 days

#10 posted 05-31-2014 02:07 AM

Very nice work, it will definitely make a beautiful set of chairs.

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. — Scott Adams

View Tooch's profile


2013 posts in 2679 days

#11 posted 05-31-2014 04:27 AM

sweet looking chair- I really like the tapered tops, adds a ton of style

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

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