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Vintage Tools




Designing and Building a Chair by Mark Singer

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General Introduction

Designing and building chairs are challenging to most woodworkers. It requires good drawing skills.  Design layout and careful marking and measuring are essential.

Woodworking skills including hand tool, machines, joinery (sometimes complex) and shaping are essential. A lot of the complexities of building can be reduced with careful attention to design.


A chair must be comfortable or it is not serving the purpose for which it is intended.


The more vertical the seating position the smaller the seating footprint. The more relaxed the position, the larger the seating footprint. A barstool is smaller than a dining chair, which is smaller than a lounging chair, which is smaller than a chaise and finally that is smaller than a bed... 

The chair I am making is a lounge chair and I have chosen a seat size of 22” wide (net before arms) by 21 ½ long from rear cushion to front of cushion.  I am allowing 1” rake or slope from front to rear.  So at the spring point the back is 90 degrees and curves away as it rises.  If there is a rear cushion you need to allow for its thickness...  I had my upholsterer, Raul, make a couple of trial cushions.  I specified 5” thick and he used 5” and then wrapped them with Dacron making them 6 ½ “to 7” thick so I need to compensate.

I started by making a lot of sketches. 

From these a design was selected and full scale drawings , a side view and a plan view were drawn by hand.

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