2X4 Morris Chair

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Project by StumpyNubs posted 10-31-2010 12:38 PM 16162 views 21 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I am posting this at the request of a couple of fellow LJ’s…

This was my first piece of furniture. I designed it to be built with simple, cheap 2X4 douglas fir which is very strong and can be bought at any home center. I made it a bit different from your standard morris chair. First it has a set of three holes positioned vertically on the back legs below the arm rests rather than having the arm rests themselves stick out the back for the holes. Wooden pegs go in these holes to adjust the angle of the back, which pivots on a large dowell at its base. Also pivoting on this dowell is the seat, which is also adjustable from a flat position to three different angles back using a set of holes on the front legs.

The arms are ambrosia maple, but I also made a version with jatoba arms which is a bit less rustic. This one is light colored, another ai made is a chocolate brown which my wife likes better.

Pine gives it a unique look, a bit more rustic than the standard arts and crafts look of oak. I used a finishing process on this one that gives it an old, mellow look (an acid wash and colored Briwax).

The seat is a high density foam covered with a synthetic leather upholstery material. The foam and upholstery cost more than the wood!

I’ve since made more modifications to the design including more slats on the sides and a better way to make the bent arm rests.

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

26 comments so far

View Beeguy's profile


179 posts in 4118 days

#1 posted 10-31-2010 01:39 PM

Nice chair Jim. Would not mind seeing the other version too. Great of example of using easily obtained wood to make a superior piece. I always liked the Morris chair and yours is a fine take on it.

-- Ron, Kutztown, PA "The reward is in the journey."

View stefang's profile


16717 posts in 3816 days

#2 posted 10-31-2010 01:46 PM

Fine looking chair Jim. Using construction grade fir is not a bad choice structurally and is a little different too. We don’t have to be slaves to traditional choices.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3404 days

#3 posted 10-31-2010 01:49 PM

Looks good. I’ve been toying with the idea of building a morris chair but the cost in oak was causing me to grimace. I like this though. What is “ambrosia maple” ? Don’t believe I’ve heard of it. Anyone else know it by another name?

-- Life is good.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3766 days

#4 posted 10-31-2010 02:17 PM

Howie, Ambrosia Maple is also know as “wormy maple”. It gets its name from the “Ambrosia” worm that likes to burrow into maple which leaves a tiny pin hole in the wood and creates a unique mineral streak in the light colored maple. The curved chest you see in my picture was made with “Ambrosia Maple”. I love making band saw boxes with it….......lots of character!

-- John @

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3766 days

#5 posted 10-31-2010 02:45 PM

Jim, That was a very ambitious project for your first piece of furniture. I think it turned out great and I agree with stefang…...we don’t have to be slaves to traditional choices. Most furniture that is built with 2×4’s, look like it’s built with 2×4’s, but you gave it an all together different look. Very casual, yet with real style. Now that you’ve built a couple of them and should know your material cost pretty much to the penny, it would be interesting if you priced out the materials using Oak from your local supplier and show the difference in the material cost. This would be one project that the material cost would make a huge difference, especially if you priced it out using 8/4 or 12/4 Oak. Great job and thanks for sharing.
BTW, I’ve been following your blog and find it very interesting. I started my business on a shoe string almost 25 years ago, so it’s pretty easy for me to follow and understand where you are coming from and where you would like to go with your business. We may not agree with you on some things, but if you listen to some of the good advice you’ve been given and ignore the ones that would like to see you fail, you will do fine. Good luck and let me know if I can help in any way.

-- John @

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4067 days

#6 posted 10-31-2010 03:29 PM

Nioce comfee looking chair Sheamus that’s Scottish for JIM LOL Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View StumpyNubs's profile


7730 posts in 3282 days

#7 posted 10-31-2010 03:50 PM

Howie- Ambrosia maple is really nice for a rustic piece, and is often not very expensive. In fact many places sell it for less than regular hard maple.

huff- thanks for the comments, I would like to hear more from you about your experience starting your business.

ABOUT THIS CHAIR- Douglass fir can also be found (if you dig through lots of 2×4’s) with very nice, straight grain lines. In fact the last one of thses I made was done with as much of the straight grain as I could find, especially on the legs. The first chairs were done by lamanating two boards together, as in this photo. But I found that some places carry premium fir 4X4 stock with that nice straight grain, and when I used it for the legs of the last chair it really made it look nice! I’ll get some photos of that one online as soon as I get a chance.

BTW- I think I have only about $80-100 into each chair, and that was with the high quality foam. Using lots of cotton batting like a traditional seat coushion instead would knock about $20 off. So you can see how affordable this can be made. I sold one for $300 on ebay, but because of shipping costs (which the buyer also had to pay) it is more practicle to sell them locally if I can find the right place.

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View Karson's profile


35197 posts in 4882 days

#8 posted 10-31-2010 04:16 PM

Jim a great looking chair. I love ambrosia maple.

The kitchen cabinets that I made in NJ had bookmatched Ambrosia maple for the panels.

A lot of resawing to get those.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View StumpyNubs's profile


7730 posts in 3282 days

#9 posted 10-31-2010 04:34 PM

Karson- I was surprised at how hard it was. My mortising machine could barely handle it! Better sharpen up those hollow chisels!

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View billb's profile


113 posts in 3426 days

#10 posted 10-31-2010 07:14 PM

Great looking chair Jim. Thanks for sharing it.

-- Bill, Austin, Texas,

View DevilDogNurse's profile


67 posts in 3264 days

#11 posted 10-31-2010 11:57 PM

Beautiful. A Morris Chair is definatly on my list of things to make!

-- Marine, Nurse, Dad.

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3404 days

#12 posted 11-01-2010 12:41 AM

Just gonna have to build me one of these.

-- Life is good.

View a1Jim's profile


117713 posts in 4059 days

#13 posted 11-01-2010 12:44 AM

Unique design and wood choices good first chair.

View NormG's profile


6441 posts in 3485 days

#14 posted 11-01-2010 03:46 AM

Very good work on the chair. If it works for you and people buy it to boot, that is a bonus. Can’t wait to see the next chair

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View wannadoitall's profile


56 posts in 3276 days

#15 posted 11-03-2010 09:46 PM

Great chair Jim! We haven’t met yet, I’m a bit new around here… but I read your whole post about starting a business on a shoestring, and I would love to talk shop with you sometime – as I am in a similar boat (or cabinet)... Great chair and good work taking it one day at a time following your dreams!

-- -Angela, "Christos Anesti!"

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