This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
A short description may bo given here of the general principles underlying the construction of chairs, with some illustrated examples of the commoner and rougher kinds, showing how they are made and repaired. Briefly, a chair consists of a more or less flat "seat" or slab supported at a convenient sitting height above the floor on a wooden framework formed of 4 legs joined by cross rails; on one side, these legs are prolonged upwards to constitute the " back," and, on each of the sides adjoining the back, they may be similarly heightened to produce "arms." The framework may be plain or ornamented, and the materials of the seat may be wood, cane, rushes, or a "stuffing" (horsehair, flock, &c), enclosed in a textile or leather covering.
A very cheap and simple kind of chair known as the "cane-bottomed," is shown in Fig. 588. a is the back, cut out of 2 pieces of wood to the required shape, and strengthened by 2 flat rails b completing the back of the seat, and by a round rail c completing the back of the legs. The seat consists of a front rail d, back rail e, and 2 side rails f. The front legs g are similarly joined by round rails h, and let into the front rail d of the seat. The front legs g are connected with the back legs i by means of round rails k.. The joints are all made by mortices and tenons, and are well glued, and clamped. There is a tendency in light chairs of this description to suffer injury in the frame, generally in one of the pieces / near where they join the back rail e. One good plan for repairing such an injury is to introduce a strip of wood I from beneath, just long enough to fit tightly between the 2 legs i, and to fasten it by screws into the back frame e and both sides f. Another efficient method is to screw a small angle-iron m to the injured frame and to the leg nearest it.
As implied by its name, the seat of this chair is formed by stretching strips of rattan cane across it in the manner of a network, attaching them to holes bored for the purpose in the frame of the seat, and securing them by little wooden pegs driven into the holes. It may be mentioned that the front part of the frame of the seat should be wider than the back, and made rounding in shape; the front legs may be perpendicular, but the back legs should diverge gradually towards the feet.
The Windsor, kitchen, or wooden seated-chair is even simpler than the last, the seat consisting simply of a somewhat dished-out slab of wood, attached to the front legs by having them inserted in holes bored into it, and to the back by mortising. The seat should be of elm and the back and legs of beech. These chairs, though strong, are liable to injury from being used for improper purposes, such as carrying clothes while drying, which causes warping and shrinkage, and consequent looseness of joints. Such evils may be remedied by reglueing and clamping tightly till fixed. A broken rail may be replaced by a new one, but a broken leg is generally beyond anything approaching neat repair. Frequently one corner of the seat will split away at the line where the leg is inserted. This may he put right by temporarily removing the leg, and boring (with a centre-bit) 3 or 4 holes laterally in the wood, from the edge towards the centre of the seat, filling them with wooden pegs dipped in good hot glue, and clamping till quite dry and firm, when the leg may be reintroduced into its place.