Craftsman style white oak dining chairs

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Project by DHS posted 10-09-2019 10:26 PM 2166 views 9 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

These were my first chairs. So I approached this project slowly and methodically. I followed fairly closely a pattern published in Fine Woodworking by Kevin Rodel in 2007. And, before I cut any white oak I made a practice chair from construction-grade 2×4s.

I bandsawed the parts roughly and then brought them to final shape using MDF patterns and a bearing-guided spiral router bit. I had to be careful with grain direction, which meant I could rout half the workpiece with the pattern taped to one side and then I had to affix the pattern to the opposite side to finish shaping it. I still needed to use hand tools (spokeshave, hand plane) to remove tool marks and to refine the final shape.

I made use of my milling machine to cut the angled mortises. I also used it to trim the tenons for the mortise and tenon joints. It was the first time I had used the milling machine to bring the tenons to final thickness but it worked really well. There were a lot of mortise and tenon joints.

I prefinished the pieces before assembly so that I could color the pieces to match the dining room table. I taped the mortises and tenons to prevent contamination with finish. Then, I applied shellac, General Finishes Brown Mahogany gel stain (wiped on and then immediately wiped off), some more shellac, followed by several coats of an oil-varnish blend.

I added some ebony pegs on either side of the crest rail and chiseled them into pyramids using a sheet of stainless steel to prevent the chisel from marring the finished surface of the chair.

I upholstered the chairs following instructions from a video workshop on upholstery for woodworkers on the Fine Woodworking Magazine web site. That video series alone made my annual fee for web access worth the money.

When I built the dining table, I had this chair design in mind so I built the trestles on each end of the table to match the chair backsplat. The German shepherd seems to approve of the match.

-- Dave S., Bellingham, WA

24 comments so far

View Ken90712's profile


17972 posts in 4195 days

#1 posted 10-09-2019 10:48 PM

Love them, my favorite still of furniture. Great work.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Dark_Lightning's profile


4428 posts in 4115 days

#2 posted 10-09-2019 11:03 PM

Beautiful! Making a chair of cheap wood first saved a bit of anxiety, I’ll bet.

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

View jimi's profile


62 posts in 4535 days

#3 posted 10-09-2019 11:34 PM

Very nice! Love the Greene and Greene pillowed plugs

-- Jim, SE PA

View pottz's profile


14714 posts in 1990 days

#4 posted 10-09-2019 11:48 PM

man that is a fine set of chairs to be proud of.your craftsmanship is top notch and a nice job on the upholstery to boot.i assume you made the table too?.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View pintodeluxe's profile


6313 posts in 3819 days

#5 posted 10-10-2019 12:04 AM

Great build, these really came out nicely! I love that first picture… an army of chairs. Plus the nicest chair made from 2×4’s anyone’s ever built for the shop!

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

View swirt's profile


6000 posts in 3978 days

#6 posted 10-10-2019 01:14 AM

Wow! first chairs, no way. The quality is so good I’d have thought you made 100 before these. Well done.

-- Galootish log blog,

View horky's profile


319 posts in 3937 days

#7 posted 10-10-2019 01:22 AM

Great job, they look awesome. Enjoy them.

View BB1's profile


1929 posts in 1854 days

#8 posted 10-10-2019 01:51 AM

These look great. I have a kitchen table and chairs on my “to build” list but haven’t gathered the courage to start. Yours look great (and having German Shepherd approval is a high achievement – mine always check my work carefully!)

View Ivan's profile


16608 posts in 3874 days

#9 posted 10-10-2019 04:40 AM

Very impressive…G&G ’’touch’’ is the top!!

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile


2646 posts in 553 days

#10 posted 10-10-2019 07:37 AM

Excellent work, but then, all your work is excellent.

-- WWBBJ: It is better to be interesting and wrong, than boring and right.

View EarlS's profile


4299 posts in 3354 days

#11 posted 10-10-2019 11:02 AM

Good looking chairs, though I might a bit biased having made some from Kevin Rodel’s plans as well. I like the white oak as it brings out the craftsman style, reminiscent of Stickley.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View Peteybadboy's profile


3060 posts in 2956 days

#12 posted 10-10-2019 11:27 AM

That is impressive work! I would say “I made those” to anyone that waked in the door!

-- Petey

View mnguy's profile


306 posts in 4404 days

#13 posted 10-10-2019 01:03 PM

Fantastic chairs! And excellent craftsmanship.

View avsmusic1's profile


680 posts in 1691 days

#14 posted 10-10-2019 01:13 PM

absolutely lovely

View JRAP's profile


128 posts in 2956 days

#15 posted 10-10-2019 01:56 PM

Wow, they’re really nice, as is the table. Tremendous job. The shepard is adorable too.

-- -- Jim, Cumberland,RI -- Life is all the other stuff you do when you're not in the shop. -

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