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I just saw this mid-century-modern chair in the Modernica blog …

http://blog.modernica.net/weekend-los-angeles-modern-auction/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=weekend-los-angeles-modern-auction

To me, the bottom leg joint looks like a lawsuit waiting to happen. I'm now wondering if it ever went into production. I have a Heywood Wakefield lounge chair with a similar joint where the arms meet the legs, but NOT where the legs meet the sleds.

I'm calling it a Dirty Harry (Feelin' lucky, punk?) joint. Your thoughts?

Furniture Chair Comfort Wood Armrest
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Jim: I'm betting that dowels were used in the joint … VERY STRONG DOWELS. That seems to be the joinery-of-choice for the period.

mrjinx007: Are you saying that you wouldn't want to flop into that good 'ol recliner? :)
 

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This looks like a pretty strong construction to me John. The bottom rail on the arm reinforces the joint on the top of the arm and I'm pretty sure the seat must be constructed to provide the backwards or rocking motion. Another clue to it's solid construction is it's age, which looks to be at least 30 or 40 years old or possibly more.

I had some leather chairs with a very similar look to it, but made with continuous bent laminated beech with no joints in the arms. I bought them in the 80's and my son is still using them in his basement. They are 'springy' and comfortable.
 

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I have 240 pound (mostly muscles) friend sit in one of those 60's made metal pipe chairs and he stared to rock on it and next thing you know, he was doing backward flips in my garden behind him. Likely, he didn't suffer any injuries. I think this design is more likely to fail at the bottom rather the top rails. Looking at the wight distribution, the pressure would want to tear that bottom joint apart. Yea, dowels would definitely prevent that tear out-not.
 

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Hey stefangm I think you missed what he's talking about-there's basically a butt joint coming into the part of the legs on the floor. So there are some fasteners or something happening in there, but it's a WHOLE lot of shear force getting thrown into the butt joints. Like with what mrjinx007 pointed out, if you get someone leaning back into the chair hard enough they'll pop the joint.

This looks like a pretty strong construction to me John. The bottom rail on the arm reinforces the joint on the top of the arm and I m pretty sure the seat must be constructed to provide the backwards or rocking motion. Another clue to it s solid construction is it s age, which looks to be at least 30 or 40 years old or possibly more.
 

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At first glance it looks like a weak dowel joint but a more careful examination indicates that there's a rim of bent wood going all the way around the leg. That curved piece looks about a quarter inch thick or so and may either be steam bent or laminated but probably the latter.

Rectangle Wood Wood stain Font Parallel


What that outer lamination accomplishes is eliminating the pulling force on the joint between the foot and the leg. Instead of wanting to pull apart, it's forcing that joint into compression and all the pulling force is directed at the seamless piece of bent wood. A dowel joint can withstand compressive force with ease.
 

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Rob, that was amazing. Hard to believe that piece held up under that much pressure. JAAune, 1/2" bent oak wood would have somewhere around 5000 lb of shearing resistance. Not sure how many pounds that would translate into with let say a 200lb person fully seated on that chair.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Jacob (aka JAAune): I'm nominating you for the Columbo Prize For Woodworking Investigation.
I think you nailed it with the bent laminations. There IS more to the joint than first meets the eye.

PS - Keep your laser warm. Incoming soon.
 

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Great eye, JAAune. It makes sense. Otherwise it would
have this end-grain thing going on. I'll bet the designer
was after a way to solve the end grain issue and the
strength is an added byproduct. I have seen this sort
of chair joint done with exposed end grain too. I figured
it was done with mortise and tenon.

I look at a lot of chairs.
 

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Could be a mortise and tenon in there but for some reason I'm thinking it's a commercially produced chair so that's why I'm guessing dowels. We'll never know unless someone wants to go buy it and take it apart for everybody's benefit.

@JohnHutchinson,

Laser is ready to go as always.
 
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