Arts & Mysteries: 18th-century Chairmaking


Building a ‘Rush Bottum’d Chaire’ – part 1
By Adam Cherubini
Pages: 24-27

From the June 2008 issue #169
Buy this issue now

I’m going to turn my attention to chairmaking for a while. I’ve been hesitant to make chairs because they are fairly difficult to build, and frankly, I didn’t feel I was up to the task. Joint quality is much more important in chairs than casework. If 80 percent of my dovetails are tight, my carcase will be fine. But if a chair has 20 percent of its joints loose, it’s going
to fail.

To make matters worse, chair joints are often not perpendicular to their reference faces or to other joints. I have been getting away with fairly crude stock preparation and in some instances, marking and measuring. A cabinetmaker can often simply mark one piece directly from its mate. You generally can’t do that with chairs. Parts are built up individually and joined later.

I think I’ve had good reasons to shy away from chairmaking. But I’ve decided to face my chair phobia head on. I’m going to start with a relatively simple chair and work up from there. My goal is to acquire skills, not chairs. I’m hoping this pursuit will make me a better woodworker.


From the June 2008 issue #169
Buy this issue now