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Build a Low-Back Windsor

The Curves in this Classic Chair Are Sawn, Not Steamed by Robert Treanor

Simple curves. The sawn back rail on this low-back makes it unique among Windsor chairs.

Is it true that the Windsor chair gained its name when King George III ordered some distinctive seating for Windsor Castle? Probably not. But what can't be denied are the English origins of this famous chair. The earliest Windsor chairs date back to England around 1720, and by 1740, the production of American Windsors had begun. In a short time, the Windsor chair became arguably the most democratic form of furniture in the newly formed United States.

Typically, Windsor chairs have steam-bent parts—an aspect of construction that has scared off plenty of potential chairmakers. The low-back Windsor chair shown here is unusual—its curves are sawn, not bent. Originated by Philadelphia furniture makers, this chair is the pcrfcct project for anyone wishing to venture into Windsor territory without getting steamed.

Woods of the Windsors

Windsor chairmakers were particular about their choice of woods. Easy-to-work woods like pine and poplar were commonly used for the heavily shaped seat, which was worked by hand. Maple was popular for the turned elements because of its exceptional turning abilities. Bent parts and back spindles were most often made of oak, ash or hickory-^-all woods that respond well to steam bending. Sawn parts, such as the thrcc-picce arm in the low-back chair, were typically made from a combination of oak and poplar.

On the low-back Windsor shown here, I struck a balance between tradition and practicality. The seat is made from sugar pine and all the spindles are maple. Ignoring convention, I chose mahogany for both the arms and crest rail. The crest requires extensive shaping by hand, and mahogany works beautifully with hand tools. Also, I simply had some handy. If you're going to paint the chair as I have done, you could use almost any moderately hard wood.

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Materiale protetto da copyright

FIG. 1: LOW-BACK WINDSOR CHAIR

FIG. 1: LOW-BACK WINDSOR CHAIR

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