Since building my first run of Roorkhee chairs for the October 2012 issue of Popular Woodworking, I’ve been able to explore many of the variants of this nifty design, from the original version (shown in the magazine), to its iteration in the hands of Kaare Klint.
This week I’m building an early chair inspired by the work of Benjamin Edgington Ltd., which made tents and barrack furniture at the foot of London Bridge. My chair is circa 1900, which makes it one of the early variants on the Roorkhee, which is a late 19th-century design.
The primary difference between the Edgington version and the original chair (designer unknown) is the leg turnings.
On the earliest chairs, the turning at the top of each leg is a straight cylinder. This cylinder is as long as a person’s hand is wide, which suggests that it was a place for you to grab the chair and move it about camp. And if you try this, I think you’ll agree that it is the place to grab the chair.
On the Edgington chair, the grip is curved instead of straight. While this curve looks better to my eye, it is not as comfortable to grip.
The other difference is in the foot turning. On the earliest chairs I’ve inspected, the feet are like a ball or a squished ball – imagine a ball-and-claw foot without the claw. On the Edgington chair (and others) the foot is a cylinder that is topped by a small cove profile.
After trying out a lot of turnings on these chairs during classes, I think these might be my favorites.
I’m teaching a class in building Roorkhee chairs at William Ng Woodworks in March 2014 – one of the very few classes I’m teaching in 2014. There are still a few spots in the class. Click here for information.
— Christopher Schwarz
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