Bow Arm Morris Chair

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Project by PPK posted 05-18-2017 04:27 AM 1794 views 4 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My chair is finished, finally! It was about 6 months in the making, and many more months of dreaming it up and planning. Hickory and Walnut. Leather upholstery, which I did myself. 1 coat of danish oil, 3 coats of Arm R Seal wipe on poly, and then rub out with paste wax. The walnut was dyed to achieve even color.

I blogged the process, feel free to check it out:

I’m no professional, but ask questions if you think I could help – I’d love to help out and share what I can.

The chair is comfortable, and turned out just how I’d envisioned it. I learned a ton, and had a lot of fun building it.

I lost my post last night: Here’s the rest of the story:

This is the first project I’ve built for myself, I think, since college. I really enjoyed the build, even though it was a bit stressful, as I had to work on projects for others in the midst of it.

The chair is made primarily from air dried black walnut that I got from a co-worker in rough sawn boards. I milled it down myself. I had to buy a little walnut locally, since I didn’t have quite enough thick boards. This is part of the reason I chose to dye the project – to even out the color differences between the walnut boards. I used a little hickory (my favorite wood) for accents also.

Some features of the chair:

—The legs are hollow, and put together with lock joint miters. I don’t like the look of glue lamination lines. The lock miter hides the joints really well.

—Through mortise and tenon construction with pinned tenons.

—Steam bent arms

—A lot more hand work than I usually do. I planed all the parts with my smoothing plane after milling them. (Yes, I still like my electric planer and jointer.) Some of the tenons are partially hand cut too.

—Alcohol based dark brown dye for even out the walnut color, finished with one coat of Danish oil, 3 coats of Arm R Seal wipe on varnish, and then rubbed out with steel wool and paste wax

—I used hide glue for the joints, so that repairs could be done, and it also has a longer open time for getting everything in place.

—I did the leather upholstery myself with a full cowhide of leather and the associated supplies. The seat cushion has a traditional jute webbing bottom and hickory frame.

—I did not follow a plan. I printed off some pictures, and loosely followed some basic dimensions from the freeby plans out there on the web for Morris chairs so I’d get the height/depth/etc. right.

—All in all, I built this chair in its entirety, with the only things that you could consider “pre-made” is a few dowel pins to attach the arms and a few screws and staples for the cushion.

The project took 6-7 mos. to build, and I had been dreaming up the plan and the methods I’d use for… well… a lot longer than that! It turned out how I had envisioned it, and it’s quite comfortable for me. It is deep, but I intended it to be that way, as I’m a little taller than average, and don’t like short/shallow chairs. There were a lot of firsts (the biggest first was the upholstery) and I had a ton of fun learning to do new things. Who knows, maybe I’ll get some business from this sitting in my living room, and I can earn a little on the next build.

I can’t neglect to thank PintoDeluxe (Willie) for the great blogs he posted and the inspiration I got from his projects.

There’s no coincidence Jesus was a carpenter. Even if he had to work with stone/clay more often than not, as history suggests, I bet His favorite was when he got I nice chunk of wood to make something out of! Praise God for the ability to work with my hands and create something beautiful from the Creation (trees and cows) He has made.

-- Pete

11 comments so far

View TraylorPark's profile


213 posts in 2712 days

#1 posted 05-18-2017 11:31 AM

The chair looks awesome, Pete. The contrast between the walnut and hickory adds and a great touch and that finish looks fantastic. Congrats on a great project.

-- --Zach

View Jkulisz's profile


1 post in 1505 days

#2 posted 05-18-2017 03:38 PM

Absolutely beautiful. Love the light square dowel accents

View pintodeluxe's profile


6400 posts in 3927 days

#3 posted 05-18-2017 04:12 PM

A Morris chair is one of those quintessential projects that every woodworker should build.
You did a splendid job, and made it your own with the contrasting wood and pegs.

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

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3981 days

#4 posted 05-18-2017 07:23 PM

This is a beautiful Morris Chair and you have done a wonderful job on it.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Mean_Dean's profile


7057 posts in 4261 days

#5 posted 05-18-2017 09:16 PM

Great looking Morris chair! I really like the walnut/hickory combo, and I’ll bet it’s really comfortable. I’m sure you’ll get many years of enjoyment from it!

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

View PPK's profile


1861 posts in 1923 days

#6 posted 05-19-2017 01:24 PM

Thanks for the compliments, all!
I read a few books to my son last night while we both sat in it before putting him to bed, we both sure enjoyed it…

-- Pete

View Matt C's profile

Matt C

24 posts in 1705 days

#7 posted 05-19-2017 06:51 PM

Beautiful piece of craftsmanship!

View Ivan's profile


16838 posts in 3981 days

#8 posted 05-20-2017 11:16 AM

Beautiful-masterpiece. I see myself sleeping and resting in it.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View jcees's profile


1079 posts in 4913 days

#9 posted 05-21-2017 09:35 PM

I really like your take on this Morris chair. Nicely done!

-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View PPK's profile


1861 posts in 1923 days

#10 posted 05-21-2017 09:54 PM

Thanks, jcees!

-- Pete

View Jerry's profile


3488 posts in 2762 days

#11 posted 02-13-2020 06:24 PM

This is really something. The combination of woods are really striking, and the accents and joinery are masterful to say the least. An instant favorite. You have my undivided attention Pete!

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be.

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