Ogham cherry chair by Tiernan Roe Fine Woodworking

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Project by Tiernan posted 01-31-2007 12:13 PM 4294 views 10 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The client wanted a chair that was comfortable, simple, light, robust and unique to them. Everything that a chair should be really. They came to me first looking for some shaker inspired chairs but after a lengthy design process I came up with these chairs. The strong vertical elements in the back were something that the clients liked. All of their current chairs had this element. We choose to make the chairs from cherry as they wanted a light coloured wood that had some figure but wasn’t over powering. Also each chair has the name of one member of the family carved on it. I used an ancient irish script called “ogham” which consists of horizontal lines on a vertical line. Apparently this script was based on the names of trees e.g oak in irish is daoire and represents D.
In the photo it shows that although the back is made from two flat pieces that are sawn to a curve when joined at an angle they create an almost perfect curve for a chair back. To enhance the comfort of the chair the seat slopes back at a 3ยบ angle. The triangular shape of the seat gives ample support to the buttocks as the body is supported on only two points of the pelvis that are remarkably close together. In fact there is a traditional type of chair in Ireland known as a Sligo chair that has a triangular seat which provided some of the inspiration for these chairs.

11 comments so far

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 5458 days

#1 posted 01-31-2007 12:37 PM

Tiernan, welcome to LumberJocks.

I would have loved a third picture. It would help me visualize the chair if a third picture showed the side profile of the back. I would also like to see a detail shot of the pegged mortises at the back.

This is a very unusual chair. Obviously, you consulted extensively with your client and they are happy with the result. After everything is said and done – this is the benchmark you have to achieve.

However, I will have to take your word for it that the chair back is comfortable, because that’s not my first impression from these two pictures. Granted, one can only test the comfort of a chair by sitting in it.

It looks like the back angles back from the center split with the apex of the angle in the center of the chair. Is this correct? If it is, why doesn’t this “V” shape dig into ones spine?

Tiernan, I don’t mean to offend, and I do feel a little foolish coming off like I am an expert, which I am not. But I am asking these questions and making these comments so that you can respond to my observations, not to be critical in the destructive sense but to learn.

Thanks for showing us this exciting project

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5442 days

#2 posted 01-31-2007 12:46 PM

not only have I been shown a beautiful piece of “functional art” but you have also shared a lot of information on the components of a chair: the curve, the angle….
And we learned about a culture as well!!

Thank you so much for sharing. The chair is beautiful and definitely unique (from anything I’ve ever seen, anyway)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Tiernan's profile


3 posts in 5415 days

#3 posted 01-31-2007 01:01 PM

Hi Don,
I’ve added another picture I hope it helps. The chair does look at first uncomfortable. The “V” you described was there in the prototype but I rounded it off during testing. All of these problems were ironed out with a full size prototype which I used in my own kitchen for a couple of weeks. It was made of cheap pine and MDF nailed and screwed together and even then it was strong enough for everyday use. Anyway thanks for the compliments I hope I’ve answered your queries. If you’d like to see more of my work check out

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 5458 days

#4 posted 01-31-2007 02:55 PM

Thanks, Tiernan. I took a peek, but it’s past midnight and sleep beckons. I’ll re-visit tomorrow.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View Obi's profile


2214 posts in 5518 days

#5 posted 01-31-2007 02:58 PM

I got lost on your website … I was going to start talking about the handles, but then remembered where I was. The thing about the chair is that it gave me ideas of things one can do with bowed lumber

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5528 days

#6 posted 01-31-2007 04:12 PM

I love chairs and I’ve seen something like this and want to make something like it. Really cool. I saw a whole table setting and table made in this style. Very nice, thanks for showing your handywork. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 5608 days

#7 posted 01-31-2007 09:50 PM

Well now, you don’t come across references to Ogham all that often! Great chair. I’ll take your word that it is as comfortable to sit in as it is beautiful to look at.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Terdy's profile


37 posts in 5415 days

#8 posted 02-01-2007 03:50 PM

Nice design. What inspired you? I am currently working on a chair design. I have great visions if only they can be translated with wood. What is the angle of the back to the seat? Did you use a chair measurer for your client? So many questions, sorry, but I relly appreciate your piece and look forward to your feedback!!

-- Terry

View Tiernan's profile


3 posts in 5415 days

#9 posted 02-01-2007 04:02 PM

The angle of seat to back is about 95 degrees. I didn’t use a chair measurer just kept changing the prototype until it felt right. The inspiration came from some standing stones here in the locality; that’s also where the ogham wrinting idea came from.

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1142 posts in 5272 days

#10 posted 06-27-2007 08:23 PM

What a great chair, simple, but complex at the same time.

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View mot's profile


4928 posts in 5318 days

#11 posted 06-27-2007 10:44 PM

I’m glad this one came back around! What an awesome chair.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

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