Library Chair / Steps

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Project by Don Johnson posted 04-12-2011 09:03 PM 6191 views 31 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I previously asked for assistance with designs for ‘The Franklin Chair’, and this was the one that I eventually used – so thanks to those who provided info’. I drew my own version in Sketchup (prior to finding one already available in 3D Warehouse – Doh! ) and used it to print patterns for the curved items.

It is made from Maple that I found in a fence material supplier’s woodyard, and it seemed a good buy at the time. However, I find that the lack of ‘figure’ in most of the parts is a little disappointing, and it does not seem to have the character of items I have previously made using oak. The only areas with some interest I used for the seat and the top step.

I was aware that my – rather panicky – glue-up technique leaves a lot to be desired as I usually worry too much about getting glue to squeeze out of a tightly clamped joint, and forget about overall squareness. In this instance, I glued up the front section by itself, and it seemed OK. However, when I came to do the back part I found that the two sections did not match perfectly, and despite then using the front part to align the back as it was glued, it would have been better to have glued both sections at the same time. Picture #3 shows my attempts to hold the two sections together before putting on the main clamps.

In the previous entries about the chair, I had remarked that the design I used employed ordinary hinges to join the sections of the seat, but that this meant that the hinge stuck up above seat level. I cockily proclaimed that I had found the ‘proper’ hinges for this application – counter-flap hinges. I made up a router guide for the hinge rebates – which are not simple rectangles – and that was no great problem, but then I discovered that the extra hinge piece between the two ends needed its own cut-aways to enable the hinge to sit flat, and to rotate from one position to the other. A further complication was that the two seat parts mate together at 22.5 degrees off square so each side was not the same – see picture #6. My chiselling skills were severely challenged by the task of fitting these hinges – it took me a large part of a day to cut the four recesses – always having in my mind that if I made a mess of it, my nicely figured seats would be lost! It would be fair to say I was not so cocky during this time!

Making this chair employed practically all my available tools, including a dentists drill fitted with a wood burr when fitting the hinges, and proved the value of the newly-purchased bandsaw and spindle sander. With prompting from a pal, I even bought and used some cabinet scrapers, and found them to be excellent tools, although I need some more practice in producing the burrs.

To try to improve the plainness somewhat, I applied some coloured Danish Oil after the first nuetral coat, but I was not too happy with the results, so went back to nuetral for a further two or three applications.

It will be interesting to see whether anyone will be interested in buying the chair when it appears at my Rotary club’s Art/Craft show for which I made it, but I think I will probably have more luck if I make some more bandsaw boxes. Anyway, if the chair remains unsold, my wife Avril says she wants it.

(Later) I forgot to mention that the original build instructions are on, and a version is also stored as ‘Library Chair/Stool’ in Sketchup 3D Warehouse.

The original suggests that the parts are screwed (and glued) together with plugs covering the screw heads. I didn’t fancy this, so I used my Joint Genie ( a dowelling joint jig ) for the first time on the joints, and it worked very easily and accurately. I did use some dowel points occasionally, such as when fitting the slats in the back, as this was easier, but the Genie guide ensured that the first holes were drilled square – their ‘second’ holes being square by the use of the drill press. I do like the fact that dowel joints hold everything together tightly in ‘dry’ assembly without the need for clamps.

And . . . the clamps reviewed at held the Genie perfectly!

And here’s an animation:

-- Don, Somerset UK,

17 comments so far

View NaFianna's profile


537 posts in 4523 days

#1 posted 04-12-2011 10:31 PM

I have to try one of these sometime.

-- Cad a dheanfaimid feasta gan adhmad.......?

View mafe's profile


13872 posts in 4586 days

#2 posted 04-12-2011 10:46 PM

Thats a wonderful libary chair you have made.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View lanwater's profile


3115 posts in 4431 days

#3 posted 04-12-2011 11:19 PM

This is a nice “transformable” chair. I have seen similar in a publication (blank) and though it was difficult to make for my skill level.

I hope you sell.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View schroeder's profile


702 posts in 5622 days

#4 posted 04-12-2011 11:41 PM

I love it Don! – Great job! – I have to be stealing this idea and making one of my own!


-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

View learnin2do's profile


891 posts in 4348 days

#5 posted 04-13-2011 12:10 AM

I don’t think i’ll try this one at home, even with the pre-warnings! I don’t think i could let it go! While i wish you receive offers at the sale, at the same time, I hope your wife does get to keep it!

-- ~christine @ used2btrees

View kiefer's profile


5852 posts in 4164 days

#6 posted 04-13-2011 01:23 AM

hi DON
i like this project and a good job of making it
well explained build too
i was wondering what you where up to
i thought you where making a grease box ! lol
but you made a nice chair here and i am sure you will have some good offers
i dont see any marking to identify the maker
please do it
you should make another for your wife i am sure

your buddy kiefer

-- Kiefer

View Cozmo35's profile


2200 posts in 4533 days

#7 posted 04-13-2011 03:54 AM

Smart design and great craftsmanship.

-- If you don't work, you don't eat!.....Garland, TX

View Jeffery Mullen's profile

Jeffery Mullen

355 posts in 4315 days

#8 posted 04-13-2011 09:49 AM

Love your chair / latter I would like to make one, hope you don’t mind. I should have the tools I need to make it. I will check the link out.

-- Jeffery Mullen

View Splinterman's profile


23074 posts in 4858 days

#9 posted 04-13-2011 10:33 AM

Hey Don,
Sweet job.

View Russ's profile


357 posts in 4574 days

#10 posted 04-13-2011 06:56 PM

Nice work and very good design.

-- Russ

View Don Johnson's profile

Don Johnson

751 posts in 4277 days

#11 posted 04-15-2011 12:38 AM

Hey Kiefer, I’m not making a grease box, but I am renovating an old gramophone – you would call it a Victrola, I believe, but over here known as ‘His Master’s Voice ’ (HMV)

When I opened it up, the motor was covered with graphite-loaded grease that had leaked from the dual spring casing over the last 70-80 years, leaving a layer up to 1/4 inch thick everywhere. But not ‘greasy’ grease – all the volatile part had evaporated, leaving a dark grey fairly hard putty-like residue. A pain to remove as nothing seemed to work very well as a solvent. Getting the two springs out of the casing was no mean feat (with more of the caked gunge on the coils), the overall length of each being about 15 feet!.

Tomorrow, hopefully some new graphite grease will arrive, and I can fit the new springs already received with lashings of black grease – should be rather less fun than one of Mafe’s grease boxes!

-- Don, Somerset UK,

View kansas's profile


165 posts in 5198 days

#12 posted 04-17-2011 03:40 PM

Don, I had to check out your version after you posted a comment on mine. After reading your post I think you are correct about the hinges. This project is full of challenge as is, and adding those very nice hinges you incorporated just added to the difficulty. I think these are very practical and would sell but how do we simplify the build process enough to make money?

View Don Johnson's profile

Don Johnson

751 posts in 4277 days

#13 posted 04-17-2011 04:02 PM

Hi Kansas, luckily I don’t have the problem regarding making money – my effort for the Rotary show is a one-off just to increase the items on display, and if it doesn’t sell my wife will be pleased!

Regarding the difficulty, the Joint Genie and the dowel ‘points’ made joints fairly easy, and there were no plugs to make fit, and finish. However, your curves certainly added to the work involved. Mine were relatively easy – especially with the spindle sander.

Regarding ease of construction, the copy of a friend’s rotating bookcase that I made was much easier – everything straight and square! And it would probably be more popular and sell for quite a bit more !

-- Don, Somerset UK,

View fernandoindia's profile


1081 posts in 4440 days

#14 posted 05-07-2011 05:10 AM

Hi Don

You made a terrific work here. Outcome with fitness and elegance.

Thank you for the insights of the construction as well for the links.

BTW, is that the spring British grass behind the chair? Looks pretty tidy.

-- Back home. Fernando

View Don Johnson's profile

Don Johnson

751 posts in 4277 days

#15 posted 05-07-2011 04:48 PM

Hi fernandoindia,

Thanks for the kind comments.

Yes that IS spring grass in the pictures – but I might go so far as to say it is English grass!

It does receive complimentary remarks. It’s a shame that the pictures did not include the mock cherry tree that was in full blossom at the time – now that is beautiful!

-- Don, Somerset UK,

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