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Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)

author-gravatar WickedCreekWoodworks Jun 28, 2021

One of the few actually comfortable 18th century chairs. In 1778 an Englishman who complained aobut the advances of luxury in the "Gentrilman' Magazine" described in scornful terms the "two armed machined adapted to the indulgent purpose of lolling, and so unwieldy as only to be conveyed, to the great endangerment of the carpet, from one part of the room to the other, upon wheels" After I read that passage in the book "300 Years of American Seating Furniture" I knew I had to make one. 

Walnut "show part" with ash for the upholstery frame. Holly stringing on the legs. The overall construction is actually very simple and very strong. 

Upholstery was done by my amazing wife at Tack and Tuft Upholstery.

#chair #lollingchair #upholstery #upholstered #federalperiod #inlay #stringing #walnut #ash

Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)
Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)
Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)
Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)
Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)
Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)
Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)
Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)

I was lucky to have an example to follow, this one made by Phil Lowe

Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)

Starting with the back rail and back legs. It was odd working with back legs that were so short! But it will all make sense later. 

Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)
Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)

Front rail and leg blanks

Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)

Working out the stringing. I always do a sample first. For the practice and also so I have something to hang on the wall later. 

Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)

Sample Done

Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)

Onto the legs. The Veritas Stringing too was key to getting these nice curves. The pivot for the arcs is done so that it always lands on one of the strings to hide the point of the tool

Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)
Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)

Seat assembly together, now on to stretchers. The seat rails are all simple angle tenons, so fairly straightforward.

Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)

Stretchers are always tricky to fit

Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)
Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)

Seat back to seat rail assembly joint. I really love how simple and elegant this is done. It is incredibly strong. The back is glued to the back legs, with a couple of screws for good measure. The key to the whole thing is the notch in the seat rail that the back sits in. All the leverage from leaning back in the chair is taken up by that notch. I did pin all the seat rail joinery as well, I have no fears that this joint will pull out. 

Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)
Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)

Arm post blanks

Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)

Laying out the stringing on the arms

Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)

Arm posts have large tenons that fit into the seat rails

Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)

The arm rests fit into a notch in the back and get screwed in, while the front will have a short tenon from the arm posts. 

Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)

Arm blanks fit, now to shape with spokeshave, rasp, file, and card scraper

Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)

Arms complete. The stain on the front is hide glue from the stringing yet to be scraped off.

Photo of Lolling Chair (aka Martha Washington chair)

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