Compound Curved Dovetails, Sapele Dining Chair

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Project by Byron posted 06-02-2012 04:55 PM 6489 views 42 times favorited 37 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Sapele Dining Chair is an attempt to approach seating in a different way. To do this I searched for a design that would leave a cantilevered space underneath the back of the seat. As this is a dining chair the main view will be the back of the chair pushed underneath a table, lending itself to this focus.

The material I work with is very important to my design. Wood is a very warm material both visually and tactilely, and has an inherent beauty on its own. This led me to the challenge of making an all wooden seating surface and back support. Another challenge rose up from this, how to connect the back and seat while keeping the negative space in the back. The solution was a technical challenge I had been interested in approaching from the beginning, dovetails along two curved planes. The compound curves make the connection incredibly strong, not even requiring glue to be supportive (they are glued now). I was able to fabricate the entire chair from one piece of wood and match the seat to the back as it grew naturally.

Growing up in an Italian family we would talk during dinner for hours, resulting in the conversation ending or relocating due to family back problems. Comfort is inherently important for a chair, but the notion of good posture and my family’s dinner dilemma stuck in the back of my mind during the shaping process. The seat and back are shaped completely by hand as are the legs and rails. The chair is very comfortable with a strong lumbar and encourages proper posture.

Sapele Dining Chair is finished with many hand rubbed coats of Bartley’s Gel Varnish.

-- Byron Conn, Woodworking/Furniture Design at Rochester Institute of Technology,

37 comments so far

View patron's profile


13716 posts in 4317 days

#1 posted 06-02-2012 05:11 PM

very elegant
and exquisite lines

you are truly
a master of your craft

well done

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View a1Jim's profile


118155 posts in 4553 days

#2 posted 06-02-2012 05:30 PM

Excellent design Byron and a fantastic build and a beautiful unique chair.


View Byron's profile


92 posts in 3357 days

#3 posted 06-02-2012 05:39 PM

Thank you both, I really appreciate the positive feedback

-- Byron Conn, Woodworking/Furniture Design at Rochester Institute of Technology,

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3843 days

#4 posted 06-02-2012 05:52 PM

Byron, this is an outstanding piece and is simple to the eye yet very elegant at the same time. The back, seat, and legs are so graceful in the side and back views. The whole piece exhibits your skill and imagination. The wood is beautiful and the whole piece invites a person to not only touch it but to also sit in it and enjoy.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View GenerationWW's profile


521 posts in 3226 days

#5 posted 06-02-2012 06:13 PM

Great design and very nice wood character. Great job!

-- list your handcrafted treasures @ for free!

View Ryan Haasen's profile

Ryan Haasen

385 posts in 3377 days

#6 posted 06-02-2012 09:00 PM

All I can say is WOW! This is such a nice chair!

-- Ryan

View Daiku's profile


233 posts in 3884 days

#7 posted 06-02-2012 09:30 PM


Beautiful design! The profile of the legs reminds me of the old Chevy Impala insignia.

Looks very inviting,

-- Cal Noguchi

View Raymond Thomas's profile

Raymond Thomas

189 posts in 3195 days

#8 posted 06-02-2012 10:52 PM

Bryon, an elegantly, beautiful chair – both in design and material selection. It remind me of an African impala ready to spring into action at the slightest hint of danger.

How many hours did it take to create? Are you going to make more for a complete set for your dining room? If so, I would love to see the matching/coordinating table.

-- Raymond, Charlotte, NC -------- Demonstrate the difference!

View madts's profile


1951 posts in 3316 days

#9 posted 06-02-2012 10:53 PM

A very nice design and build, Sir. I take my hat off for you.

-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View luv2learn's profile


3103 posts in 3279 days

#10 posted 06-03-2012 12:30 AM

Wow! Words fail me!

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3666 days

#11 posted 06-03-2012 01:06 AM

Very innovative design with beautiful wood and amazing joinery. A great job here.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Woodbridge's profile


3741 posts in 3394 days

#12 posted 06-03-2012 01:38 AM

A stunningly beautiful designed chair. From all angles it looks great.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View Grant Libramento's profile

Grant Libramento

176 posts in 3956 days

#13 posted 06-03-2012 02:05 AM

Beautiful lines and careful joinery. This will become a classic chair.

-- Grant, Tryon, NC

View Byron's profile


92 posts in 3357 days

#14 posted 06-03-2012 03:06 AM

Everyone, thank you for your great feedback. It is an incredible thing to have such positive responses.

-- Byron Conn, Woodworking/Furniture Design at Rochester Institute of Technology,

View jeb1974's profile


45 posts in 3515 days

#15 posted 06-03-2012 03:30 AM

That is amazing. So creative.

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