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Mikeland
Morris Chair

After being on the to-do list for about 6 years, I finally had the time and opportunity to build Normís Morris chair.

The Morris chair was invented by Gustav Stickley in 1912 and his company still makes them today, for $3900 each, with a 9 month delivery estimate...  Normís plan departs from the classic Stickley design by having level armrests, whereas Stickleyís slope down toward the back.

I built mine out of Mesquite wood. Unfortunately most people in Texas use mesquite to cook cows on their BBQs. It acts a lot like oak in the tools but has an amazing deep, swirly grain and often has cracks and voids which are typically filled with black epoxy. Color ranges from greyish brown to reddish brown to dark brown.

I got my stock from two sawmills in the Austin area, both charge $8 per board-foot and I had the pick of the pieces I wanted.  Below is what $220 of select mesquite looks like....  I definitely got too much but now I have the stock available when I build the matching ottoman, which is strangely not included in Normís plan.

After cutting, I sanded down to 600 grit (1200 on the armrests) and finished each piece with a mixture of boiled linseed oil and beeswax before final glueup. A dab on the fingertip will spread over a whole armrest, so it doesnít take much.  Many very thin coats is the secret. I then glued it up and will put a few more coats on the armrests for protection.  It took about 4 days to cut all the pieces, a day of sanding and a day each for the 3 coats of finish.

Iím now in the process of getting the seat cushions made from red leather, which will likely cost more than the wood, but still less than $3900!

This was my first project with significant mortise and tenon construction. I already had the tenon jig, but was given the drill-press mortise jig by a friend (thanks Bill!) who hadnít used his in ages.

The slats in the backrest are each sliced in half vertically with a bandsaw (thanks Mike), then glued up against a curved form.  I must have done something wrong because one slat came out perfectly, two only had about half the proper bend and one had almost no bend at all.