WoodCentral's Book Reviews
Chairmaking & Design

Chairmaking & Design
by Jeff Miller

Linden Publishing: 2006
Paperback, 199 pp., $22.95
ISBN 1-933502-06-1

     Back in print after its debut in 1997, the hands-down best chair making book is now available from Linden Publishing. It includes a fifteen-page color gallery of chair designs, with the rest of the book reprinted in black and white as it originally was issued. The photos are clear, the illustrations excellent, and the instruction as complete as you'll find anywhere.
     The author presents guidelines on effective chair design, explaining why certain ideas have evolved as they have. He illustrates what forces a chair design must be built to counteract, and how to consider grain direction and wood selection for the cutting of parts. Seven different chair projects go into detail about techniques and efficient production methods for building them.
     Miller shows all the fixtures and jigs necessary, wood bending techniques, and how to deal with angled joinery. He emphasizes safety, and shares many tricks he's learned over the years to help things work right in assembly and glue-ups. He shows how to upholster a slip seat, and how to weave a seat using fabric tape. He has a jig for cutting corner blocks on the table saw, and a jig for notching chair legs at an angle, and also illustrates different cauls for angled clamping jobs. Most of his mortising work is done with the router and a variety of specific fences.
     An early sidebar describes the factors to consider in achieving a good fit in joinery. One factor is the wood itself, another is the accuracy of the jigs used, and another is the pressure and speed of the cut as applied by the operator. "On some days, it seems the alignment of the planets affects the fit of joinery," Miller says. "Experience suggests this is not really true. It is usually the tides that are causing the trouble."
     Whether or not you ever wanted to make chairs, this book is well worth reading for all its woodworking information alone. Highly recommended.

. . . Barb Siddiqui