Easy Chair article

Tom M

Well-known member
I'm currently building two Philadelphia Easy Chairs from the Olde Mill plans.  I would like to get a better understanding of construction details, such as pinning tenons, attachment of the wings to the back, etc.  I was told of an article in Antiques by Morrison Heckscher titled "Form and frame: new thoughts on the American Easy Chair" which might be a help.

Does anyone know what issue this was in, and could possibly copy it?



The article was in the December 1971 issue. I don't have a copy but I have a couple of friends that may. If you can't find it anywhere else, let me know and I'll see if I can get my hands on it.


I was faced with a similar question a few years back when I was making three easy chairs but I didn't have a set of drawings to go on. I also had no upholstery experience so I enrolled in a class at a local fabric store.

I had found pictures of several stripped frames of original easy chairs with vertical scroll arms which informed my final design. I also relied heavily on the exploded view on page 253 of Jeffrey Greene's book.

I showed up for the upholstery class with the finished frame but the instructor chuckled when he saw my chair. "Where are your tuckaways?", he asked. "My what?"

It seems that there was no conventional way of dealing with those areas where the fabric (and webbing and stuffing) had to be tacked on two adjacent surfaces. For example, where do you tack the fabric for the inside arms if the inside back has already been covered? Why, to a medial or tuckaway rail, of course! I then compared the chair on p. 253 of Greene's book to its inspiration on p. 251. See anything missing? It wasn't too tricky to add these after the fact but it certainly would have been a whole lot easier to do it during assembly. I actually put my vertical tuckaways on the back rather than on the arms. Who can tell the difference?

There was also an article in one of the early American Furniture books by Mark Andersen (sp?) and Robert Trent. You may want to look at that too.
Wow, many thanks, Mark. Does this photo illustrate such a rail ( http://www.chipstone.org/publications/1993/Anderson93/andefigures/picture09.html# )? You can enlarge the photo. On the left side, back of wing, runs from top to bottom of the wing?


Thanks for the feedback.  Having built the sofa at Gene Landon's class, I have an understanding of the "extra's" required for upholstry.  I'll be taking the chair to York, PA for upholsrty, and have discussed the chair with the upholsterer.  One comment he made is it is critical that all outside surfaces are smooth - something near impossible to convey in a drawing.

I decided to make these chairs for the "18th century wing" of our house (the living room with new "wood" laminate flooring, and MDF molding - don't tell Gene!  I bought the wood the last week of June and started on June 30.  My goal is to get them done in July.  These are really the first pieces I've made from a plan - mostly just templates. The next drawing I'm doing for Olde Mill is of the sofa, and after using the easy chair drawings, I think I'll be able to make the sofa drawing more "stand-alone".  I've spent many hours thinking things through.  For someone with no upholstered furniture experience (e.g a class from Gene Landon) to make one of these chairs from a photo would seem almost impossible.

And to answer Pam's question, yes, those are pieces specific for upholstry.  When taking the sofa class, Gene made it sound like the upholsterer would add some of these pieces as required.

I'll post some pictures after I start glue-up (hopefully this weekend)