Making the Back, Seat and Arms
You are on the home stretch now, with just a few remaining parts to make (pieces 6 through 9). Because they are pretty wide, your back and seat will almost certainly need to be glued up. I composed the back panel from a lighter center plank with darker boards on either side. The seat was glued up from boards that were essentially the same color.
Starting with the back, I traced its shape onto the stock with a white pencil. Stepping to the band saw, I cut out the shape, staying just outside of the line.
Then, with the help of a 12° ramp and a handheld jigsaw, I cut the compound angle onto the bottom of the blank.
Now I was ready to attach the template to the back blank with double-sided tape, and to use a pattern routing bit and a handheld router to complete the shape of the back. I followed the same steps to make the arms.
Securing the back to the leg subassembly would be more easily done with a helper to hold it in place — I substituted clamps and muttered threats instead. When you have the back properly positioned, use the three-step drill-and-screw process described earlier to temporarily mount it in place.
There are a whole lot of angles going on in this chair, and I found that despite my best efforts, I was a degree off here and there as I assembled it. For that reason, I located the rear back support by using a level placed on top of the front leg stretching to the back — I marked a line on each edge of the back and mounted the support. Here, I just countersunk the holes for the back support (not covering them with plugs).
The next step was to make and fit the seat. The seat has rounded back corners and notches in the front corners. Those notches have angled rear aspects (across the thickness of the seat) to accept the front legs. I cut those notches with a hand saw. The back edge of the seat is angled to abut cleanly with the back. When you’ve fitted the seat in place nicely, counterbore and secure it with screws.
Completing the Last Details
By now you should be an expert at the bore, drill and screw sequence, so attaching the arms to the chair should go quickly … again, all of this assembly so far has been without gluing anything in place permanently. The reason is that you are going to take the whole chair apart now and sand it smooth. I also recommend a 1/8″ roundover bit on the edges of the arms, seat (except at the notches) and the back (except where it meets the rear legs). On the rest of the chair, I broke the edges with sandpaper, sanding up to 150-grit.
Reassembling the chair went smoothly. I applied glue to the legs subassembly (including where it joins the back), but nowhere else. I took care to drive the screws securely home and then put the chair aside. At the drill press, I made a bunch of plugs and then used the band saw to “resaw” them from the blank.
After packing the feet with epoxy, I applied three coats of General Finishes 450 exterior varnish — it has UV protectors that will help keep the color of the wood from shifting in the sunlight.
In the end, I was so pleased with the chair. It is a piece of American history, and it was fun to build and comfortable to sit in. That’s a win, win, win in my book for sure.