Making an English Comb-back Windsor Chair – Part Five

The crest rail was sawn from the solid; the front face is vertical, but the back face was tapered to 1/2″ thick at the top using a drawknife and spokeshave. The mortises for the back sticks were bored prior to cutting the top profile.

The tapered crest rail.

Windsor chairs from other regions of England can be identified by their highly ornate crest rails. On this type of Thames Valley chair however, crest rails were invariably unadorned, or exhibited restraint in their decoration; the ‘bear’s ears’ shape being virtually the only profile employed. On the bandsaw, I cut the bear’s ears profile into the crest rail and then tidied up the edges with a spokeshave and scraper.

The arm posts were swabbed with glue and hammered into their mortises in the seat. The seat was then turned over and wedges were hammered into the saw kerfs in the arm post tenons. All the sticks were similarly glued into the seat and the arm bow was threaded onto the back sticks and suspended at a convenient height above the side sticks and arm posts. More glue was applied to the arm sticks and mortises and the arm was then lowered into place. Two more wedges secured the arm to the arm posts.

Glue was applied to the top of the back sticks and the crest rail mortises and the rail was tapped into place. Finally, I drilled 1/8″ (3mm) diameter holes right through the crest rail and through the two end and two centre back sticks. I split some short pieces of ash from an off-cut and then hammered them through a dowel plate to make four 1/8″ diameter pegs. The pegs were dipped into the glue and then hammered through the crest rail and back sticks.

When the glue had dried, I trimmed the arm posts and the crest rail pegs and washed the entire chair down with hot soapy water to remove any oily fingerprints and residual glue.

The Thames Valley comb-back in-the-white.

The crest rail.

Arm post and arm.

Ready for staining and polishing.


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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7 Responses to Making an English Comb-back Windsor Chair – Part Five

  1. basilg says:

    Jack that is a very nice looking chair. I am looking forward to seeing it polished



  2. Wow, that looks great!

    I’m interested to hear how you held the crest rail steady while you shaped it – it doesn’t look like something you could easily secure in a bench vice! I assume you used a shaving horse or similar?



  3. Pingback: A Double Bow Windsor Chair – Part One | Pegs and 'Tails

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