Blacker House Arm Chair

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Project by Jeff Waggoner posted 05-16-2012 09:49 PM 5417 views 7 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is Jalen’s project for his first year of student competition. He turned 14 hr while working on it.

He placed first at Regional’s and tomorrow we leave for International’s.

This is a link to more photos.

This is copy from his report.

This particular piece took an immense amount of research to even know where to start. I had never built a chair before so I first built a prototype; although not complete it gives good help for the later critical stages.

1. I started making a full-sized drawing on poster board to determine overall size and angles.
a. I initially contacted several people who had built this chair and offer classes, to try to find plans and dimensions.
b. I also looked for any info I could find on the original design by the Greene brothers and the Hall brothers.

2. I then turned that into a prototype using poplar. In the process I developed several jigs to perform different functions in the making. A Darrel Peart book described some on the jigs that he uses as well as Jeff Miller’s excellent book on chair-making.

3. I went to Northwest lumber company in Indianapolis to purchase my lumber. I bought a “mahogany”. All of the wood for the entire chair was made out of one piece of mahogany to get the most consistent color match.

(Interestingly enough the board that I bought for this year’s project was from the same tree my older brother used to make his senior year project)

4. I re-sawed the board on the band-saw to rough dimensions.

5. I rough milled the lumber using a combination of planner, jointer, miter-saw, and table-saw.

6. I let the cut pieces of mahogany acclimate for a week before continuing. (This was a very good idea because when the moisture stabilized the boards warped and in some cases there was some
cracking.) (Figured a picture of wood leaning against a wall for a week would be boring. The video is pretty slow too).

7. I was able to work around the cracked boards for the final milling process.

8. I cut the front legs-which are parallelograms-then I cut the bottom part of the back legs- which are trapezoid-leaving the top rough because they are cut based like the final product of the crest rail.

9. I cut the tenons to fit into the mortises for the front and back legs.

10. I made the H-frame for the bottom of the chair, fitting it together with mortis and tenons.

11. I shaped the bottoms of the feet with several rasps.

12. I cut out the rough shape of the crest rail using my band-saw and table-saw and cut the mortises for the back legs with my hollow chisel mortiser.

13. I cut the tenons for the back legs to fit into the mortises of the crest rail.
a. I had to create a special jig for the router to establish the thickness of the tenon so I could use a dovetail saw to cut the tenons to width.

14. I shaped the back legs using a combination of the band-saw, spoke shaves, chisels, plans, drawknife and rasps.

15. I cut the design for the back rail using a combination of the band-saw, router and rasps.

16. I cut the rough shape and size of the back splat using the band-saw. I then shaped it to final dimensions using a combination of the band-saw, plane and rasps.

17. I cut the tenons for the back splat a combination of the table-saw, band-saw, chisels and dovetail saw.

18. I cut the rough shape and size of the spindles using the band-saw.

19. I cut the tenons for the spindles using a combination of the band-saw, chisels and dovetail saw.

20. I shaped the spindles using a combination of band-saw, spoke shaves, and plane. This step and the process was a lot more difficult and was a lot more time consuming then I had thought: possibly the most difficult part of the chair. I ended up making a paper template of all four sides since they are all unique. I used these to trace onto the spindle to guide our band sawing and shaping. I then cut mortises into the spindles to accept the ebony blocks I used for decoration. The angles in the back splat and spindles made this very challenging.

21. To figure out the size and shape of the arms, I drew out the top elevation and the side elevation. I then used tracing paper to copy the design and then used spray adhesive to attach it to a piece poplar. I cut that out to get an idea what it would look like before cutting the mahogany. I made several changes re-cutting and shaping until I found the design I liked. I then used that template to create the final arms.
For a finish I used General Finishes Arm-R-Seal, oil urethane topcoat. Then I finished it with a renaissance wax applied with 0000 steel wool. I buffed it out with a rag.
Several professional woodworkers that I communicated with encouraged us to pick a less ambitious project as this chair is considered to be one of the more difficult projects. I logged my hours and including the prototype I have about 182 hrs. This did not include researching books and web-sites. I am very happy with the result.

-- Jeff Waggoner,

10 comments so far

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 4085 days

#1 posted 05-16-2012 09:55 PM

That’s a great looking chair for a woodworker of any age! This young man has a bright future making fine furniture. Now he only needs 5 or 7 more chairs to make a set for his Mother or future wife. By the time he finishes the set, I bet he cut’s the time by a huge amount.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View amagineer's profile


1415 posts in 3445 days

#2 posted 05-16-2012 10:04 PM

You are an inspiration to kids your age. You have taken a piece of nature an created a wonderful chair. it’s all about the ride when working with wood. Hope to see your future projects on LJ’s.

-- Flaws are only in the eye of the artisan!

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 3387 days

#3 posted 05-16-2012 10:36 PM

Fine looking chair,well researched and executed.

-- I never finish anyth

View Jeff Waggoner's profile

Jeff Waggoner

105 posts in 3539 days

#4 posted 05-16-2012 10:55 PM

Thanks Hal,

My wife has already ordered 5 more and a hable to match but he is already looking forward to what he is going to do for next year.

-- Jeff Waggoner,

View Woodbridge's profile


3718 posts in 3266 days

#5 posted 05-17-2012 02:38 AM

That is a beautiful chair, excellently constructed. Jalen is a very talented young man!

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View Jeff Waggoner's profile

Jeff Waggoner

105 posts in 3539 days

#6 posted 05-17-2012 02:50 AM

Thanks everyone. Jalen is finding the he really loves working with hand tools. He is talking about trying a chair with a solid seat and scoop it by hand.

-- Jeff Waggoner,

View Koa's profile


59 posts in 3318 days

#7 posted 05-17-2012 12:53 PM

Amazing . . . .
Wonderful craftsmanship & techniques thanks for adding the additional photo links. You work is wonderful keep it going this piece will truly be an heirloom. ..


-- An aspiring woodworker.

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3140 days

#8 posted 05-17-2012 09:06 PM

Excellent design and workmanship.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View sb194's profile


197 posts in 3867 days

#9 posted 06-14-2012 01:49 PM

Greene and Greene is my favorite style, and that chair looks fantastic. He should be extremely proud of the quality piece of furniture he built.

View mbs's profile


1685 posts in 3788 days

#10 posted 05-20-2014 05:32 AM

I love the g&g chair. You did a fantastic job and proven a very skilled woodworker.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

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