Whether you know it or not, you’ve probably seen a Roorkhee chair (or its children) at some point in your life.
The Roorkhee chair was supposedly invented at the end of the 19th century for the British military. But it had a long life that extended into the 20th century and influenced many modern designers: Marcel Breuer’s “Wassily” chair (1925), Le Corbusier’s “Basculant” chair (1928), Wilhelm Bofinger’s “Farmer Chair” (1966) and Vico Magistretti’s “Armchair 905” (1964) all owe a tremendous debt to the Roorkhee chair.
Oh, and there were tons of commercial versions – it was commonly called a “safari” chair.
So on Monday when I started teaching a class on building a Roorkhee chair at the Kelly Mehler School of Woodworking, we began by looking at a bunch of Roorkhees and their ancestors. The similarities are obvious. Their differences are most interesting to me.
If you are interested in building one of these chairs, you should check out the gallery of images below. Also, the article I wrote about this form of chair in the October 2012 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine can be downloaded here.
Today we sprayed shellac on the chair, completed the leather work and began building some campaign-style stools. Tomorrow we’ll complete the chairs with some nasty black wax. To me, the wax smells like a creepy janitor we had in high school. Despite this, I will rub the creepy janitor wax on my chair.
More details on the finishing process tomorrow.
— Christopher Schwarz
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