Morris Chair

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Project by Mainiac Matt posted 07-20-2019 07:34 PM 599 views 5 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Greetings all… here you have my first “real” furniture project. A Morris Chair build from the Wood Magazine plans.

I think I used every tool in the shop on this one… and acquired a few more :^)

First time “skill builders” for me included:
>cutting tenons on the TS with a tenoning jig.
>bending a laminated build up
>ammonia fuming
>HVLP spraying
>fabricating foam cushions
>sewing leather

New tools included:
>A flat tooth, full kerf Freud rip blade
>A 60 tooth Amana ATB full kerf cross cut blade
>An old Delta tenoning jig
>I refurbished my wife’s 1922 Singer model 66 treadle sewing machine and converted it to electric motor power.
>Wixey angle gage
>I built a fixture to mount a Makita trim router onto my little CNC bench top mill
>I finally got my Incra miter gage dialed in dead nuts accurate (with help from machinist at work)
>I built a mounting stand to turn my 4×24 Bosch belt sander into a sanding station

Wood is White Oak from a stash of 6/4 and 8/4 boards I bought from a mill work shop that closed their doors ~6 years ago for $50. Unfortunately, there were very few quarter sawed boards with ray fleck… but I have a bunch of it and felt I needed to use it up.

I fumed the sub-assemblies in a tent for 3 hours with two trays of 80% ammonia. One wiff of this stuff will make your eyes and nose burn so I did it out in the barn with the doors open and a fan going…. but still managed to have to run away from the work a couple times. I would have liked to have gone for a darker color, but the Mrs. didn’t like the sample pieces I showed her. I hand padded 3 coats of Zinser amber shellac, touch sanded and then HVLP sprayed Seal Coat in prep for three coats of rattle can semi-gloss lacquer. Overall, I’m happy with the way it came out. It’s very close to the samples I stained with MinWax Golden Oak, but the fuming gave more contrast in the grain. That said, I now feel that the real benefit of fuming is to pop the ray fleck… and since I didn’t have much QS grain, it was a lot of work for not much reward.

Mortises were cut on an old Delta chisel mortising machine I got used years ago. Tenons were cut on the TS with the flat tooth Freud rip blade and a shop made tenoning jig. This worked really well and after I put a few pics up on Face Book, I guy on my hockey team gifted me his old Delta tenoning jig. After some TLC (OK, I completely stripped and de-rusted it and stoned all the machined surfaces) it worked very well and I really like being able to make micro-adjustments to get a good fit to the mortise. This is definitely how I will do mortises and tenons in the future. Very clean faces, easy setup, nice fit!

I re-sawed and planed the strips for the bent arms, being careful to keep the grain matched and used the CNC router at work to cut the bending form out of 3/4 MDF, building up layers toGet 6” wide. I used the CNC knife cutter at work to make mylar templates for the top profile to the arms, cut them on the band saw and smoothed with hand planes and belt sander.

I do some hobby metal working and converted an little bench top mill to CNC some years ago. The spindle speed only goes up to 2,000 rpm though, and this has proven too slow for woodworking in the past. So I fabricated a bracket to mount my Makita trim router to the mill as a slave spindle and this worked quite well for the corbels and the ‘I’ shaped cut in the wide center side wall slats.

Pins were turned on my bench top metal working lathe. The fixed pins were from Oak and died black. The removable ones are from black Derlin..

I’ve wanted to make a mount for my monster Bosch 4×24 hand belt sander, as I seem to always get in trouble with it when I sand by hand. I have an old timer, real deal machinist friend at work (I think he’s in his mid-70s) and once I did the design work in Solid Works, he helped me machine the stand from a stub of aluminum plate and some 80/20 cut offs we hoard in the scrap bin. I used this to sand the corbels and some of the other small parts.

I didn’t intend to do the upholstery work myself, but after 2 shops told me they didn’t want to do the job and another quoted me $1,000 I decided I would give it a try. I got the leather hide off ebay for $85 and the foam from work for $25 (employees can buy at cost). Lot’s of YouTube peeps recommend converting the old Singers for sewing leather. So I put $50 worth of kit into my wife’s old antique machine, as she wouldn’t let me touch her good one. But now, having done it… and struggled with it a lot… I wish I had bought a walking foot sewing machine that could handle the leather better (imports can be had as low as $300 for a basic machine). As it turned out, I had to sew 6 layers thick at some points and the old Singer just couldn’t hack it. So I found an old timer near buy with a commercial machine who helped me finish up the last seams.

I can’t believe how long this took, as I started it in late January. It would have been done 6 weeks ago if I could have found someone to make the cushions for a reasonable price. But now I can say I did it all myself.

Lot’s of build pics to follow…. Happy to entertain Qs if you have them.

Next up is the matching coffee table.

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

23 comments so far

View Redoak49's profile


4100 posts in 2436 days

#1 posted 07-20-2019 08:24 PM

Excellent workmanship !

View sras's profile


5135 posts in 3576 days

#2 posted 07-20-2019 09:02 PM

It takes a lot of effort and skill to pull one of these together. Now you have a piece that will be around for generations!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View PaxJen's profile


70 posts in 1104 days

#3 posted 07-20-2019 09:21 PM

Nice work and great writeup.

-- Pax - Maryland

View therealSteveN's profile


3353 posts in 1021 days

#4 posted 07-20-2019 09:46 PM

That’s a very nice chair. Congrats on all of those firsts. Keep lifting the ceiling, and that sky is limitless.

Awesome pic post too. Makes it feel like we were right in the shop with you.

Overall a smoking presentation, Thanks for sharing.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Jerry's profile


3226 posts in 2095 days

#5 posted 07-20-2019 09:54 PM

Well Matt, it’s nothing short of being a work of art. You should definitely be proud of this build.

-- 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.

View mike02719's profile


128 posts in 4233 days

#6 posted 07-20-2019 10:09 PM

Great work and terrific write up. The longer it takes to complete a project, the more you appreciate it. I love these projects with pics and complete descriptions. Congrats!

-- Mike, Massachusetts

View Andre's profile


2693 posts in 2253 days

#7 posted 07-20-2019 10:53 PM

Purity darn nice! think a foot stool should be next project? (matching of course)
I still need a power mortiser but my Delta T.S. came with a Tenon jig.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View diverlloyd's profile


3557 posts in 2305 days

#8 posted 07-20-2019 11:14 PM

Turned out looking pretty great.

View Bob Kassmeyer's profile

Bob Kassmeyer

251 posts in 3372 days

#9 posted 07-20-2019 11:25 PM

Nice job Matt, looks very nice.

-- Bob Kassmeyer, Nebraska

View Delete's profile


439 posts in 819 days

#10 posted 07-21-2019 12:13 AM

Darn nice job Matt, love your color match and finish.

View oldrivers's profile


1769 posts in 2014 days

#11 posted 07-21-2019 12:52 AM

Wow! Beautiful chair, Great workmanship, job well done.

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View lightcs1776's profile


4245 posts in 2101 days

#12 posted 07-21-2019 01:06 AM

Incredible work! You have created an heirloom piece that will be enjoyed for generations.

-- Chris ** If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. — Tom Paine **

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11694 posts in 3876 days

#13 posted 07-21-2019 01:40 AM

Stupendous, Matt. The upholstery was a hassle but, worth it. Great job and, congrats on the well deserved DTT award.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Andrek's profile


491 posts in 2357 days

#14 posted 07-21-2019 10:18 AM

Wow !!! everythings was said, this is a very nice piece of furniture to say the least. Thanks for showing, I envy your workshop as well.

-- andrek

View Peteybadboy's profile


895 posts in 2397 days

#15 posted 07-21-2019 11:05 AM

Great work!

-- Petey

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