Text Box: Williamsburg Chippendale Chair

This is a reproduction of a Williamsburg, VA chair in the Chippendale style. It is mahogany with a French polish shellac finish. The chair has a hand carved back splat.

Chair Summary

· Genuine mahogany finished with French polish shellac

· Mortise and tenon joints

· Hand-carved Back Splat

· Dovetailed Cross Stretcher

· Rounded and hand-shaped Crest Rail and Stiles

· Chippendale design

Introduction: In January 2006, I attended my first Colonial Williamsburg conference titled “Working Wood in the 18th Century”. The topic of this conference was chairs, of which one was a Virginia Chippendale chair. Mack Headley and his staff of the Colonial Williamsburg Historic Trades Cabinetmaking Shop demonstrated the construction of this chair. I watched the construction process attentively, as I was much interested in reproducing this chair. My processes were somewhat different in using power saws and router table. Otherwise, just as in the 18th C or in Williamsburg, my techniques included a lot of hand work. I tried to duplicate as closely as possible, the design including detail joints, even though there were no handouts of design drawings.


Design: Having captured some of the key dimensions at the conference, and based on memory and pictures, I built a design model of the chair which is shown below. Also I’ve shown the exploded view which indicates many of the mortise and tenon joints. The Stiles particularly are shaped and rounded with hand tools. The back splat is pierced and also carved with a spiral in the top and also a sprig of leaves at the bottom. The Stiles are slightly splayed. The seat rails are connected at both ends with mortise and tenon joints. There is a thumbnail molding on the top of the seat rails. The seat rails also have a rabbet in the top to house the Seat Frame. The Crest is connected to the Back Splat and Stiles with mortise and tenon joints. The Cross Stretcher is the last assembled component, and is dovetailed into the bottom of the Side Stretchers.

Reproduction of Williamsburg Chippendale Chair