Bow-armed Morris chair

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Project by jdh122 posted 08-15-2021 04:51 PM 885 views 1 time favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I finally managed to finish this bent-arm Morris chair. Photos show it in both the fully upright and slightly reclined positions. The arms and back pieces are steam-bent (but sprang back some, I should have bent them a bit more). I followed the measured drawings in Bob Lang’s book of shop drawings. As I worked on it I wondered if I should have made the later version of the chair, which is two inches higher (two inches longer on all 4 legs), but I’m happy with how it turned out.
This was a fun project. The angled tenons on the legs are not that hard – the real challenge for me was doing the m+t on the back after the splats were steam-bent, and especially the mortises on the arms for the legs to come up through – all handtools, dozens of trial fittings, and virtually no margin for error.
It’s made from quartersawn red oak. I ammonia fumed it (two photos of the tent I constructed in my garage). I used household strength ammonia so had to leave it in for several weeks, changing the ammonia every couple days. The color turned out nice, although a few pieces (notably on the front legs) darkened so much more than the rest that I wonder if some white oak hadn’t snuck its way into the pile.
I bought a hide of leather and five pieces of pre-cut foam in different densities. I have a friend who is an accomplished (non-professional) seamstress, but had never sewn leather and only has a regular machine. She was willing to tackle the cushions, and they turned out great. We followed pintodeluxe’s fantastic LJ blog episodes on the cushions, as well as his recent article in Popular Woodworking on making the Stickley rocker.
It was a fun project, and I ended up with a very comfortable reading chair.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

13 comments so far

View pottz's profile


21411 posts in 2275 days

#1 posted 08-15-2021 05:56 PM

looks fantastic.nice job.

-- 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 gdaveg's profile


400 posts in 493 days

#2 posted 08-15-2021 06:17 PM


Great job on the chair!

Have a friend that has a Morris chair and it is very comfy. Sure yours is too.

-- Dave, Vancouver, WA & Tucson, AZ

View BurlyBob's profile


9414 posts in 3556 days

#3 posted 08-15-2021 06:51 PM

Very nice. My folks had one of those. I really liked it.

View EarlS's profile


4824 posts in 3639 days

#4 posted 08-15-2021 07:27 PM

Nice work. I’m a big fan of Stickley and Bob Lang, and even pintodeluxe (but don’t tell him). I have to admit I was lazy and bought the Stickley Morris chair recliner.

I wonder if the legs had more exposure to the ammonia, kind of like the burgers that are closer to the fire being well done while others around the edges are barely cooked? On the other hand, every piece of wood is unique and the leg pieces might have had more tannins. I’ve seen that with iron acetate, which is used to ebonize wood. If you want a consistent look, you can make tea and wipe it on the wood before you fume or apply the iron acetate. Tea has a lot of tannins in it. Or, you could use wine…..

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

View sras's profile


6433 posts in 4420 days

#5 posted 08-15-2021 08:01 PM

Beautiful chair. Nice job!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View tt1106's profile


247 posts in 4359 days

#6 posted 08-16-2021 12:22 AM

That is my dream project, right there. I have been wanting to build that chair for 20 years.

-- -Todd

View swirt's profile


6837 posts in 4262 days

#7 posted 08-16-2021 01:42 AM

Awesome work on that morris chair. Well done.

-- Galootish log blog,

View htl's profile


5600 posts in 2450 days

#8 posted 08-16-2021 02:58 AM

Beautiful job!
Looks like you could sit the whole evening with a good book there quite easily.

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View therealSteveN's profile


9272 posts in 1865 days

#9 posted 08-16-2021 05:06 AM

Nice chair, the cushions look rich and famous.

-- Think safe, be safe

View pintodeluxe's profile


6498 posts in 4104 days

#10 posted 08-16-2021 05:51 AM

I like how the chair came out. The Stickley #336 is one of my favorite chairs ever. I had the opportunity to sit in an original version, and measured it up for a Popular Woodworking article. I actually made it into a Morris Rocker, but same idea as yours.

I think the cushions look fantastic. I’m glad you and your seamstress friend decided to collaborate on this special project.


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

View jdh122's profile


1269 posts in 4108 days

#11 posted 08-16-2021 10:56 AM

Thanks for all the kind comments. I’ll tell my friend that folks liked the cushions. She was disappointed that she couldn’t sew the loops at the top of the back cushion as in the original (too thick for her machine), but I thought it was fine.
Earl, you may be right that the wood that darkened more was simply red oak with more tannins. I had actually bought some tannic acid from a homebrew store, meaning to experiment with it to see how it would affect the fuming process, but never got around to doing so. We had a couple of very hot days and I noticed that this seemed to result in more darkening.
Willie, that’s a great article in Popular Woodworking, especially the cushion part with instructions on types of foam to use for upholstery newbies.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View Rodrick's profile


47 posts in 466 days

#12 posted 08-17-2021 03:13 AM

Very nice work. I think the curved arms turned out quite well. Interesting you used ammonia for darkening the oak. I to am a fan of arts and crafts movement and have recently made some tables and a mirror. However I used a aniline die stain instead of the ammonia. I got the same results and it was a safer option for me.

View awsum55's profile


1196 posts in 1799 days

#13 posted 08-18-2021 01:45 PM

Nice job on the chair, I think it looks terrific.

Very nice work. I think the curved arms turned out quite well. Interesting you used ammonia for darkening the oak. I to am a fan of arts and crafts movement and have recently made some tables and a mirror. However I used a aniline die stain instead of the ammonia. I got the same results and it was a safer option for me.

- Rodrick

One of the benefits of fuming is the color goes deep enough to be able to sand without worrying if the color will change.

-- John D, OP, KS

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