Picture This CXXXIII

I previously mentioned chair-back settees and how they can, with a modicum of forethought, be effectively created from extant side chairs. The settee in figure 1 is one such conversion.

Fig. 1. Utterly convincing transformation of three circa 1760 oak side chairs.

The chairs’ front legs appear to have been simply screwed together; however the three individual crest rails have, at least, been replaced by one solid rail (figure 2).

Fig. 2. New continuous crest rail.

The three separate rear seat rails have been skilfully linked together with dovetailed spacers (figure 3).

Fig. 3. Ingenious five-piece rear seat rail.

The chairs are probably Irish and it heartens me to think an Irishman also carried out this wonderful metamorphosis.

Jack Plane

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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12 Responses to Picture This CXXXIII

  1. Paul@bcfnc says:

    Maybe for a little smoke-filled Irish pub where it took up less room than three chairs ?


  2. Jack
    As I was climbing out of the rabbit hole I always enter when reading one of your posts, I went back to the chair-back Settee photos, and tried to determine the manner of repair of the arm attachment point to the inner rear legs. As nothing was obvious (other than replacement of these legs from other side chairs of the set), could you comment on your understanding of how this was accomplished?

    Also, the George III Marquetry Tea Chest, Circa 1766, posted previously, truly is Stunning.


    • Jack Plane says:

      When assembling a chair-back settee from extant chairs, one elbow chair is sacrificed for the two outer rear legs/stiles and arms, then one or more side chairs donate their rear legs/stiles for the inner legs/stiles. Thus no patching is necessary.

      If only elbow chairs are available, then new wood is grafted into the rear legs/stiles at the points of arm attachment (usually only a single screw hole) and coloured-out during the repolishing phase.



      • Excellent! And could you possibly comment on the method of distressing applied to the Yew Tea Caddie you completed in (I believe) September of 2011? I’m also wondering if that finish has darkened over the last 7 plus years?


        • Jack Plane says:

          I didn’t age the caddy much, other than softening the arrises and imparting some ‘accumulated crud’ in the crevices. The grain of the yew wood has evened out somewhat, but it has only darkened slightly.



  3. Bob Barnett says:

    OK that is just too weird!!! I get the back, that looks fine but the double legs in the front, side by side. It hurts my eyes to even look at it! Thankfully when it is against the wall you can’t see the back legs. Someone didn’t think that design thru. I am throwing my flag on that design and giving them a 20 hand cut mortise penalty.


  4. james conrad says:

    This is totally off thread but i figured if anyone knows, it would be Jack.
    In America it is generally agreed that most furniture was machine built by 1850 (except for dovetailed drawer boxes). I have heard that in England they continued to build furniture by hand until the 1930s, is this correct?


    • Jack Plane says:

      Furniture continues to be handmade in the UK, and also in factories. I’m not exactly sure when factories began making furniture in Britain as it’s outside my area of interest, but I would say it would have been in the second quarter of the nineteenth-century.



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