Design Critique April 2013


Tom Schaefer offered up a chair design he’s been working on for a critique. You can click on the link above to a PDF that shows his sketches for the design. As always with a critique your comments are welcome, please be specific about what you like or would change. Here is Tom’s description:

Attached is a drawing of a chair I started a few years ago.   I appreciate any feedback you are willing to dispense.  My apologies for the crude drawing, it’s all freehand.

Here is my thinking on some of the design elements.

  • The frame is walnut.
  • The fill wood is zebra.
  • The cushion fabric of wool and cotton with a small square weave.
  • The legs are a long taper.
  • The side profile the back rail works in conjunction with the back cushion to form an ogee.
  • The front view the legs work in conjunction with the top to form another ogee.
  • The arm rest is twisted to form more to the arm and hand.
  • There is a visible space between the cushion and the walnut frame, so the zebra wood is noticeable in that space.
  • The front rail is zebra wood and scooped at the top for legs.  I’m undecided to frame the bottom at least in walnut. I kind of like it without the walnut rail.
  • The back of the chair has a center stile that connects to the bottom rail.  In the sketch it appears to connect to the leg, but does not.
  • There is a dotted line on the side for a possible walnut rail.  I may decide to make the side open from the top of the seat cushion to the bottom of the arm rest.
  • There are two (possible three) stretchers under the cushion and the flush mortise joint is visible on the side bottom rail.
  • My concept was that the lines should blend together as on unit.  Like a wave so to speak.

I look forward to your comments.



In lieu of another written comment, I submit these images of Tom’s chair design.  While the images show only the lower portion of the design (with certain liberties taken), hopefully they will provide him some additional understanding of his current design.  Since the comment section doesn’t provide the ability to post images I have sent them via email to you.  Feel free to post them in any way you deem useful.



Chair Top

Chair Top

About walkerg

Woodworker and writer
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5 Responses to Design Critique April 2013

  1. Nick M. says:

    An observation, The armrest and legs are playful with their curves, but the back and the bottom of the chair seem very deliberate and precise. In particular the side elevation of the back.

    You might want to sketch out a couple variations of making the back and the bottom more playful, or the legs and armrest more decisive, and see if it becomes more pleasing.

    My personal opinion would be to add a second or third playful curve to the back and bottom.

    Interestingly enough, the front elevation of the back speaks to me of a form that could be both decisive and playful.

  2. Jim B says:

    I like the overall design of the piece and I think the walnut with zebrawood will be very striking. Proportionally, it is a bit squat for my taste and I’d like to see the back a bit higher. Let’s see- the splay of the front legs is 7 units and the splay of the arms is 6 units so that means the height of the back needs to go from 8 units to 9 – nope, that would be too high. I think I’d just try altering the sketch a bit to see what different heights look like. Or try narrowing the front apron which might lift the appearance overall.

  3. SS says:

    Interesting his penmanship looks so much like his chair! nice form.

  4. David Naugle says:

    This is just my eye speaking… I like the side view, it seems to be in proportion and just ‘looks right’ to me. However the front view is not. It seems squat or too grounded which throws it out of balance from top to bottom. Perhaps less splay in the legs? (from the front view only) or more width in the top back?

  5. Tom Schaefer says:

    Thank you everyone for the comments. You provided a helpful prospective I haven’t thought about or didn’t realize.

    JL Smith – For the most part you got it correct. It’s nice to see my sketch in a 3D model. Thank you for that.


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