Charles Rohlfs 1898 Desk Chair v3 Lacewood

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Project by Woodbridge posted 08-27-2013 11:03 PM 4354 views 7 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A while back I went to the local hardwood supplier to pick up some Ash for my Ash & Walnut Three Leg Chair. They had a real nice piece of Lacewood strategically propped up against the check-out counter. This was the first time I had seen Lacewood. Their plan worked. I went home with the Lacewood with the intention of building another Rohlfs Desk Chair. The good news is the chair does not take a lot of wood to make (only 5.25 BF) . Assuming you do not make any mistakes (I did), you can cut all the parts from a 7” x 9’ long board (with a little glue up required to make up some parts). You can easily make the chair from an 8” x 10’ long board (no glue-up required).

This is my third version of Rohlfs’ iconic chair, which was featured on an episode of Antiques Roadshow. I keep tweaking the chair a bit. My first desk chair was made of re-used Ash hardwood flooring, had a straight back and 7/8” thick wood. Following a visit to the Met Museum in NY to see the original chair I attempted a second version. The second desk chair was made from reused Mahogany baseboard, had a back sloped at 5 degrees and 5/8” thick wood. The five degree angle looked a little severe.

For this chair I reduced the slope of the back to 3 degrees and thicknessed the wood to 11/16”. Like the original the chair still has a very nimble look to it. The X-brace structure does however do a great job of stiffening up the whole chair.

I gave the first two chairs away. I’m going to keep this one for myself, at least for now. I’ve also recently completed a second version of Rohlfs Oak Rocking chair, and I will post that at a later date.

My next chair, which is partially underway will be another snake themed chair: “Eve’s Temptation”.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

20 comments so far

View DocSavage45's profile


8816 posts in 3232 days

#1 posted 08-27-2013 11:09 PM

All I can say is WOW! Peter I’ll even pay the shipping if your giving your chairs away? LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View RichCMD's profile


420 posts in 2331 days

#2 posted 08-27-2013 11:10 PM

I am not sure I would want to sit on it for very long, but it sure is a great looking piece of work. Well done!

-- Ride the bevel!

View bazz135uk's profile


718 posts in 2242 days

#3 posted 08-27-2013 11:14 PM

Great Design really love it So well done and Love the Lace wood You have great vision Talent & Skill.

-- BAZZ, LIVERPOOL UK A workshop is not a luxury . We need it to preserve our sanity in this frantic world we live in. A place to be at peace.

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2682 days

#4 posted 08-27-2013 11:37 PM

Beautiful wood, intriguing design and very artistic—an overall success I’d say.

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

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2874 days

#5 posted 08-27-2013 11:41 PM

Fantastic work!

-- Brian Timmons -

View natenaaron's profile


442 posts in 2187 days

#6 posted 08-27-2013 11:54 PM

Very cool. Don’t you just hate it when they lean those pretty boards up against the counter? Like the pusher man dangling a baggie in front of a junkie.

View Woodbridge's profile


3689 posts in 2807 days

#7 posted 08-28-2013 12:01 AM

Thanks for the comments.

RichCMD: with the sloped back the chair is okay to sit in, but it is really an occasional chair, decorative chair or hallway type chair.
Hillbilly and Natenaaron: I can’t take credit for the design and the beautiful wood was a function of good marketing by the lumber supplier!

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14181 posts in 4372 days

#8 posted 08-28-2013 12:11 AM

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1537 posts in 2865 days

#9 posted 08-28-2013 12:17 AM

Woodbridge, I have a question. Every time I see one of these chairs, while I admire the craftsmanship and talent required to make them, they seem very uncomfortable to me. Why not add a small slant to the back rest? Maybe 3 or 4 degrees. I realize it might no longer be a “faithful” reproduction but why not add something of yours to it?

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View Woodbridge's profile


3689 posts in 2807 days

#10 posted 08-28-2013 12:31 AM

Jorge: The original and my reproduction have a sloped back. For this version I sloped the back at 3 degrees. That does make the chair reasonably sittable.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View kiefer's profile


5658 posts in 3056 days

#11 posted 08-28-2013 12:43 AM

Great looking chair Peter.
Love the Lacewood and the chair sure makes a statement.
One request I have is a better close up pic of the “Front apron ” for a lack of a better word ,looks very interesting ,is it made from Lacewood also?

-- Kiefer

View Woodbridge's profile


3689 posts in 2807 days

#12 posted 08-28-2013 12:50 AM

Kiefer – the front apron is also made from lacewood. The front apron and the front legs were recut from a different board because I made a mistake on the angles for the first version, so they are a different shade. When I do another chair I think I will make the cut-outs in the apron a little bigger.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1537 posts in 2865 days

#13 posted 08-28-2013 03:10 AM

Thanks Woodbridge, the slant was not apparent in the pics.

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View a1Jim's profile


117627 posts in 3966 days

#14 posted 08-28-2013 01:03 PM

Very cool and most unique,great job.

View IndianJoe's profile


425 posts in 2639 days

#15 posted 08-28-2013 01:56 PM

Nice work

-- Nimkee** Joe

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