Document 3: H H Windsor "How to Make a Morris Chair", Popular Mechanics 1909

Reprinted 1980, as Mission Furniture: How to Make It  

The stock necessary to make a Morris chair of craftsman design as shown in the engraving can be purchased mill-planed and sandpapered on four sides as given in the following list:

4 posts 1 3/4 by 3 by 26 in.

2 front and back rails 7/8 by 5 1/2 by 24 in.

2 side rails 7/8 by 5 1/2 by 28 in.

2 arm pieces 7/8 by 5 1/2 by 37 in.

7 slats 3/8 by 2 by 24 in.

2 cleats 1 by 1 by 22 1/2 in.

2 back stiles 1 by 2 1/2 by 24 1/2 in.

2 back rails 1 by 2 by 17 in.

3 back slats 3/8 by 1 1/2 by 19 in.

1 back support 3/4 by 3/4 by 24 in.

2 support rests 1 by 1/ by 8 1/2 in.

2 dowels 1/2 in. diameter, 6 in long.


First make and put together the sides of the chair. While the glue is setting on these parts make and assemble the back. The front and back rails may next be made and placed and the cleats and bottom slats fastened. With the adjustment of the back the chair is ready for the finish.


The posts are to be tenoned on the upper ends. These tenons are to project 3/16 in. above the arm and should be slightly beveled. The lower ends of the posts, likewise, all other projecting ends, should he beveled to avoid their splintering. All sharp corners, as on the arms, should be sandpapered just enough to take their sharpness off, so as not to injure the hand.

That the chair may be properly inclined, the rear posts are cut 1 in. shorter than the forward ones. To get the correct slant on the bottoms of these posts, lay a straightedge so that its edge touches the bottom of the front post at its front surface, but keep it 1 in. above the bottom of the rear post. Mark with pencil along the straightedge across both posts.

At the rear ends of the arms are the notched pieces that allow the back to be adjusted to different angles. These pieces may be fastened in place either by means of roundhead screws from above or flatheads from underneath the arms. The notches are to be cut 3/4 in. deep. If more than three adjustments are wanted, the arms must be made correspondingly longer. morris-chair-1910-pm2

The dimensions for the tenons on all the larger pieces will be found on the drawing. For the back, the tenons of the cross pieces, the rails, should be 3/8 by 1 1/4 in. For the slats, the easiest way is to not tenon them but to "let in" the whole end, making the mortises in the rails 3/8 by 1 1/2 in. This will necessitate cutting the sides of the mortises very accurately, but this extra care will he more than compensated by not having to bother with the cutting of tenons on each end of the three back slats.

To finish the chair, put on a coat of water stain, first removing all surplus glue and thoroughly scraping and sandpapering all the parts that were not so treated at the mill. The color of the stain will depend upon the finish desired, whether golden, mission, etc. Water stains cause the grain of the wood to roughen, so it will be necessary to resandpaper the surfaces after the stain has dried, using fine paper. Next apply a coat of filler colored to match the stain. Directions for its application will be found upon the cans in which the filler comes. After the filler has hardened put on a very thin coat of shellac