Making an English Comb-back Windsor Chair – Part Three

The leg tenons were turned to size with a small chamfer at their ends to assist with entry into the mortises in the seat. With the legs tapped into the seat, the mortises for the side stretchers were carefully bored.

The measurements for the side stretchers were established using two 6mm (1/4 “) dowels, held side-by-side, with one end of each dowel touching the bottom of the mortises and a pencil mark made on one of the dowels alongside the free end of its neighbour. A goodly amount is added to this measurement to ensure the stretchers stretch the legs apart slightly, keeping the whole structure taut.

The side stretchers were turned to shape, parted off at the predetermined length and fitted to the legs.

Side stretcher tenoned into front leg.

The legs were again fitted to the seat and the mortises for the centre stretcher were bored into the side stretchers. The centre stretcher was similarly measured and turned.

The undercarriage assembled to check the fit.

Before withdrawing the legs from the seat, I made a saw cut across the top of each leg, perpendicular to the grain of the seat. The saw marks are guides for sawing the cuts for the wedges which will jam the legs tight in their mortises come glue-up time.

Saw mark indicates orientation of wedge kerf.

No longer possessing the physical attributes to swing a ‘toe hoe’ (though in truth, it’s a fairly gentle art); I resorted to an ‘electric adze’ for the initial roughing-out of the seat. The Arbortech and Saburr Tooth discs are uncouth, messy tools and the angry grinder they attach to makes an unholy racket, but wood removal is swift and controllable.

After four minutes with the Arbortech disc.

After another eleven minutes with the Saburr Tooth disc.

As with my usual regime, I won’t let a machine within two processes of any finished surface, so with this seat, I finished the shaping with a travisher.

After a further eighteen minutes with the travisher.

About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
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3 Responses to Making an English Comb-back Windsor Chair – Part Three

  1. Tico Vogt says:

    “I won’t let a machine within two processes of any finished surface”- that’s a great line! Come to think of it, it goes for me as well.


  2. Derek Cox says:

    Loving your blog and have learnt a great deal from your posts on the Ubeaut forum – Thankyou so much for sharing your knowledge, sincerely, I appreciate it.

    Had a question regarding the wedges you will put in the legs. You mentioned that you made the cut for the wedge perpendicular to the seat grain, but did you orientate the grain on the legs so that the wedge would be radial to the leg grain?




    • Jack Plane says:

      Thanks for the kindness.

      In reality, the spigots move so little when the wedges are driven in, that their orientation isn’t really too important. I’m more concerned with the relationship of the legs’ growth rings to the stretcher mortices and the effect any shrinkage in that area will have on the stretcher tennons.


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