Jesus’ Dad Built Chairs This Way

Greene and Greene Style Chairs

As a parochial school student, Sister Mary Agnes taught me that Jesus was not only a carpenter, but he was also the son of of a carpenter. In fact, I may at some point have had to write this on the board a few hundred times after tripping Billy McMannis in the aisle.

Theo and I are currently building a set of Greene and Greene style chairs, made from American Black Walnut with a table to follow. Like all my work, they are built using traditional joinery. In this case, Mortise and tenon construction.

Mortise and Tenon joinery

This really is the same construction that would have been used by the carpenters of antiquity. It’s strong and stable and built to last for generations. Mortise and tenon construction was used until the early 19th century when it was largely replaced by factory made dowel joined chairs. This change, motivated by speed and profit margins, heralded in the current era of the wobbly chair. Chairs, more than any other type of furniture, deal with a lot of stress. Made with small parts, they are sat on, leaned on, stood on and regularly tipped backwards at precarious angles. Over time, typical modern day dowel constructed chairs give in to the stress put upon them and become loose and wobbly and eventually find themselves curb side on Big Trash Day. In contrast, a well constructed mortise and tenon chair will one day meet your great, great grandchildren.

Theo Heffler, my young and very talented assistant

Greene and Greene was an architectural firm owned by two brothers, Charles and Henry. It was established in 1894 and was dissolved in 1922. Their work was part of the California Arts and Crafts Movement. They exclusively designed very fancy residences. When they designed the houses they also designed all the furniture and fixtures within the house. Their work was highly influenced by Japanese architecture. The detail on the tops of the chairs are called cloud lifts. These were a signature of Greene and Greene furniture and are an example of Japanese influence.

It’s a privilege to recreate this timeless furniture in my Lunenburg shop for a wonderful customer.

Dreaming of a life with wobble free chairs? Drop me a line.