Roorkhee/Safari Chair

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Project by bwanamdogo posted 06-16-2013 08:10 AM 9874 views 15 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This wooden chair is patterned on the portable Roorkhee chair used by British Field Officers from the 1880’s thru WWI. Some adaptation from the Safari chair form the 1930’s. I made the frame of rock maple, legs turned and drilled with conical mortise holes, and struts from dowel material. I cut the strut tenons on a table saw jig and sanded them to fit. They are not fastened in the mortise holes, only jam fit and held by the seated occupant so they can be knocked apart to transport the chair. Finish is a rosewood dye and then several coats of polyurethane.

-- Bwanamdogo

16 comments so far

View Paul59's profile


56 posts in 2340 days

#1 posted 06-16-2013 09:36 AM

Great job, and great looking chair.

-- "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather, teach them to long for the sea." ~Antoine de Saint Exupery

View deborelli's profile


81 posts in 2649 days

#2 posted 06-16-2013 07:50 PM

This is really beautiful and neat. Did you follow a plan or do you just have mad skills? Thanks for sharing this bit of history (new) with us.

View bwanamdogo's profile


15 posts in 2222 days

#3 posted 06-16-2013 08:37 PM

Thanks, deborelli. I have as much pleasure in designing as making…’s my own thing, but borrowed from the past. Which means I destroy a lot of wood before it works!

-- Bwanamdogo

View azimmer's profile


5 posts in 2401 days

#4 posted 06-16-2013 08:53 PM

Looks great! Where did you find that lovely hardware?

View bwanamdogo's profile


15 posts in 2222 days

#5 posted 06-16-2013 09:21 PM

I made the hardware from a stock lamp finial from Liberty Brass which already had the nice groove for the keeper ring. Drilled and taped it to 5/16 X 18, sawed off the tip, bent 5/32 brass rod into an eyelet, silver brazed the chain onto the eyelet using a brass finish nail as the keeper, ground and polished the brass nut head and Oh, I knurled the lamp finial before I did anything else. All material, including chain, is solid brass. Doesn’t take as long to do it as you might think!

-- Bwanamdogo

View tsangell's profile


216 posts in 3109 days

#6 posted 06-17-2013 01:56 AM

The homebrew hardware is my favorite detail. Very cool.

View 489tad's profile


3615 posts in 3427 days

#7 posted 06-17-2013 01:41 PM

Fantastic! I want one.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View bwanamdogo's profile


15 posts in 2222 days

#8 posted 06-17-2013 02:16 PM

Thanks, Dan. I looked at your beautiful handiwork and would be glad to send you dimensions, etc. if you want to make your own. It does require some homemade tooling. Or I can make one for you! Ken

-- Bwanamdogo

View bake's profile


385 posts in 4093 days

#9 posted 06-18-2013 01:31 AM

Great chair. I have been interested in campaign/safari furniture for years, or anything else of classic Africana.
I am getting ready to build a pair of Roorkhee chairs based on Christopher Schwartz’s plan in Popular Woodworking. I really like your hardware and I like that you used canvas for the seat as it is much cooler in a hot climate.

-- I love the smell of Home Depot in the morning, it smells like.......carpentry. Bake, Bar Lazy U Woodworks, Lehi,UT.

View bwanamdogo's profile


15 posts in 2222 days

#10 posted 06-18-2013 01:59 AM

Thanks, bake. I did make one from latigo leather but it was not practical for our usage in Tanzania from cost and weight standpoint. The canvas is lighter weight and I can take three chairs in one duffle bag as a piece of checked luggage on the airlines. Our camp is on the Indian Ocean and losing hardware in the sand gave rise to the need for captive nuts and rust-proof hardware. I hope to see your Roorkhee chairs on the project forum! All the best, Ken

-- Bwanamdogo

View bwanamdogo's profile


15 posts in 2222 days

#11 posted 06-18-2013 02:17 AM

Incidentally, Bake, I’d like to know how the Popular Woodworking plans address the conical hole boring operation. I made up some bits for the process, which are rather cantankerous but work ok in a milling machine. I get too much chatter on my 60 year old drill press.

-- Bwanamdogo

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 2591 days

#12 posted 06-19-2013 01:55 PM

Like it. Great design and execution. It’s great for travelling, very handy and light. Well done!

View Rob_D's profile


1 post in 2041 days

#13 posted 12-13-2013 02:18 PM


Veritas makes a tapered reamer and tenon cutter that are good for this. The blades can be sharpened and replaced, making them an even better deal. I’m pretty positive these are the exact tools Christopher Schwartz uses in the PW article.

The largest set they make, I believe, has a large diameter of 1” and small diameter of 5/8”, so I don’t think they are as beefy as the mortise and tenons in your chairs.

By the way, your chairs are of excellent quality. I’m fortunate enough to own one and use it frequently. I get a LOT of positive comments from my friends and guests.



View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3282 days

#14 posted 12-13-2013 02:24 PM

This is a first class project and is so well done. Congratulations.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View bwanamdogo's profile


15 posts in 2222 days

#15 posted 12-13-2013 10:43 PM

Thanks for the compliments, guys. I finally had a super-dupper three flute combination drill/reamer designed and made by a company in Ohio which was a real pleasant experience. Those fellows knew exactly what was needed and do first class machine work. I have been able to make quite a few of the chairs and still love making each one.

-- Bwanamdogo

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