A Trio of Lath-Back Windsor Chairs – Part One

These braced lath-back chairs are of a popular form made in the Thames Valley during the latter half of the eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century. They regularly turn up singly and in sets of twelve or more, usually varying only by the number of back sticks, minor differences in splat profiles and occasional cabriole legs (figs. 1 – 6).

Fig. 1. One of a set of twelve lath-back Windsor chairs. (Moxhams Antiques)

Fig. 2. (Robert Young)

Fig. 3. (Robert Young)

Fig. 4. (Christie’s)

Fig. 5. Archetypal late eighteenth-century braced lath-back Windsor chair. (Yew Tree House)

In the late nineteen-eighties I made two copies of a chair virtually identical to that in figure 5 to extend a customer’s set of four chairs to six. In the intervening years, I have made literally dozens of lath-back Windsors to the same design, including a few slightly larger versions with arms, as in figure 6.

Fig. 6. Lath-back side chairs along with a taller and broader arm chair variant.

I had intended to make a few more forest chairs of one design or another (I may still do), but whilst sifting through my Windsor chair patterns I came across the ones for this old favourite.

Before the tatty paper patterns completely disintegrated, I transferred them onto MDF and then cut out the crest rails, seats and splats (fig. 7).

Fig. 7. Seat boards and splats.

Jack Plane

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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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4 Responses to A Trio of Lath-Back Windsor Chairs – Part One

  1. As you are making them can you tell me why forests chairs and some (but not all) early Themes Valley chairs have the arm and back spindles drill through the seat. E.g. if you turn them over you see all spindle ends. As you look closely to other Windsor chair models they are stop drilled and only the front arm supports Mortise is seen. Maybe the odd central splat has come through too. This for the armchairs with the high back. But they don’t drill through the arm for those spindles like some Welsh country chairs. Which i find strange to do because I would have throught it is weakening the steam bent arms material. Would like your thoughts. Tim

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    • Jack Plane says:

      As you say, the sticks of early chairs often protrude through the seat and the arm. Early chairs were made by wheelwrights and carpenters who routinely bored through-holes in their other work.

      With the emergence of professional chairmakers, their expedience and techniques became more finely honed. Not all sticks and posts require wedging; in fact, some benefit from being in stopped holes.

      Another trick they developed (in place of through-tenons and wedges) was the use of pegs to secure posts/sticks in both seats and crest rails.

      JP

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  2. Glen Luther says:

    I love the chairs. What woods are pictured in Figure 8? Glen

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