Did you know that these Morris Chair plans are a key part of American history ? Even if you haven’t heard of the Morris chair, there’s no doubt you’ve at least seen one.
What might look like an ordinary, run-of-the-mill chair at first glance is actually a defining piece of furniture in the American history of craftsmanship.
The Morris chair is named after William Morris, an Englishman who helped lead the Arts and Crafts movement in the late 19th century. The movement was a backlash against industrialism and an attempt to return to skilled craftsmanship.
This quote from Morris helps to summarize what the movement stood for:
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
Champions of Morris and the Arts and Craft movement – namely Gustav Stickley and his brothers – brought the movement to America. The furniture they designed and constructed paid homage to Morris, and went beyond functionality, or even style. It was a statement and a way of thinking. It promoted quality construction, and emphasised the importance of taking time with every product you produce.
Are you noticing some similarities between the Arts and Crafts movement and our modern-day DIY phenomenon? Well, we saw the similarities too.
To celebrate the current craftsmanship DIY revival, we’re sharing 42 Morris Chair plans to inspire your next project.
Believe it or not, the Morris chair can be made on a budget.
The Design Confidential has a great plan that will cost you only $50 - $75 for this versatile indoor/outdoor chair.
This is one of the simpler Morris Chair plans, so if you are just getting into building, this is a good option for you.
Dogs, move over. Popular Woodworking argues that the Morris chair is actually a man’s best friend!
To be honest, we kind of agree. With wide arms and an expansive seat, we don’t know what else anyone could want in life.
This DIY plan is great for beginners with only a few projects to their name. It breaks down the fundamentals of building a Morris chair step by step: mortising, tenoning, and routing with a plywood template.
It might sound like Latin now, but you’ll be surprised at how easily you’ll be able to pull this chair together.
For more advanced carpenters and woodworkers, you might as well get ambitious and build both a Morris chair and a matching craftsman-style ottoman. Woodsmith Plans has a detailed, printable PDF that covers everything you need to perfectly craft an authentic chair and ottoman.
This plan is also great for those who like breaking down their projects into smaller tasks. For example, the chair’s quartered legs are approached as one task, then building the frame is another, and so on, until the chair comes together as a finished product.
One more benefit of this Morris chair plan: it includes precise instructions on how to properly create and add in cozy cushions.
If you enjoy taking your time building and want to stretch this project out, it’s a great option.
Wanting to build a Morris chair strictly for outdoors? The How To Specialist has a great exterior chair plan with helpful tips on how to prevent decay and water damage.
If you’re a builder that learns best from seeing the process as opposed to following written instructions, check out the bow-arm Morris chair by Fine Woodworking.
The video series is especially helpful for more challenging tasks like cutting tenons and achieving perfect quartersawn face legs.
A forewarning: you get to watch the first video for free, but if you want access to all 13 videos you will need to sign up as a member. You can do a free trial membership for 14 days, which should ample time to work on your Morris chair.
Can’t part with your old, worn-out Morris chair? Don’t worry - SF Gate has a great solution: update the upholstery.
Reupholstering a Morris chair is extremely easy, since no material or fabric is actually connected to the chair frame itself.
This is a great project for someone who is more of a sewer than a woodworker.
If you want to bring it back to the real, raw Morris chair that William Morris himself crafted and sat in, the Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture has a great guide. This Morris chair plan is from 1906 and can’t get any more authentic.
You can still achieve the original Morris chair design without struggling through a plan created in 1906.
Chest of Books breaks down the old-school design and translates it into modern dimensions and pieces of lumbar. It’s a true time saver.
Scarborough Marsh Fine Future offers some professional tips for making your own Morris chair. If you aren’t looking for instructions and want some quick hints, check it out.
Added bonus: if you get really fed up with this project, they happen to sell hand-crafted Morris chairs…
DIY Projects has a pretty basic Morris chair plan, but it does offer some fun ideas for the seat and back cushions.
Why not keep the craftsmanship going, and create your own cushions? We love their idea of fastening cushion fabric together by lacing leather through pre-punched holes. If you tend to change your interior décor often, this would make replacing cushion fabric quick and easy. It’s also a solution for cushions that constantly shift: fasten the leather to the chair frame itself.
If leather is a bit pricey for you, they suggest trying fun material like denim or burlap. Burlap would undoubtedly look great, but we’re not sure how comfortable it would be…
One of the great things about the online DIY community is the feedback people leave regarding the projects they’ve completed. In other words, other people get to try out projects first and make mistakes so that you don’t have to.
JC Delaney shares their second attempt at the classic Morris chair, adapting features from Fine Woodworking, BH & G Wood Magazine, and the New Yankee Workshop.
They don’t offer much text or instructions, but there are great photographs of the process. There is also an email address you can reach out to for more information on how to make the chair.
If you don’t care for technical wording but do well with simple, descriptive terms, DCW Woodworks has the Morris chair plan for you.
The side assemblies are called “simple square ladders,” and the slanted arms are described as “slight hockey stick in profile…” They’re not wrong.
The Wood Archivist gets into the nitty gritty of what makes a truly authentic Morris chair: intricate and exposed joinery.
According to them, if you cut corners and leave out the complex joinery, you’re not doing yourself any favours. The reward in making this chair lies in doing it right, and making the late William Morris proud.
This plan is broken down into different component parts, so if you like taking your time with DIY furniture projects, this is a great option for you. The plan also includes images with dimensions, photographs showing various stages of the chair construction, and a materials checklist.
When you are finished constructing your very own Morris chair, check out Kim’s Upholstery. She offers a tutorial specifically on Morris chair cushions, and has a great list of tools and supplies you will need.
And, if it turns out you need a little more assistance, she also offers online classes.
For a truly versatile Morris chair, check out the all-weather plan on the WoodTalk Forum.
They followed the basic guide from Popular Wood Working, but it’s great to see someone else’s take on it, and see dialogue between other woodworkers making the chair. (We also love the look of the striped cushions!).
If you know you want your Morris chair to stay strictly outside, Little Good Pieces has an excellent 5-part series.
They also start with the classic Morris chair plan from Popular Wood Working, but they get creative. They kick the plan up a notch: instead of using common pine, they use select grade. It costs a significant amount more, but it means you won’t have to worry about the problems often associated with knots in pine wood. Instead of the traditional, heavy columns used on a typical Morris chair, they opt for a lighter look with “T” shaped legs.
If you like the idea of a little innovation, this is plan a great option.
Love the Morris chair look, but aren’t married to the old-school design? Lumber Jocks offers some great modern inspiration.
This contemporary Morris chair is slightly wider and taller than most other Morris chairs, and made of beautiful red oak. The matching ottoman has a compartment under the cushion for storage, making it functional and visually appealing.
There are some great tips on wood finishes, as well as making cost-effective fabric cushions.
Take your Morris chair to a whole new level with the recliner version from Wood Archivist. This plan offers 8 different levels of recline and includes a matching ottoman plan.
The recliner maneuver is simple, with a basic wooden peg adjusted into different holes to lower the back. The overall design is a bit more of a modern take with lighter lines, additional curves, and cherry wood instead of the original oak.
This project certainly isn’t for beginners, but if you know what you’re doing in the carpentry department, this incredibly comfortable chair is a great project. This plan offers set-by-step instructions, tricks and tips, a full cutting list, and pieces with the specific dimensions.
Handmade by Hickey exhibits their second attempt at a classic bow-arm Morris chair using the plan by Fine Woodworking (cautionary warning: you have to pay for this plan).
It’s always helpful to see how a project like this comes together in the end. These high-quality images show different angles of the classic chair that can help you realise the outcome of your DIY project.
If you are interested in the history of the Morris chair and want to take the time to appreciate the history of furniture craftsmanship, watch the two-part YouTube series by Woodworking TV. They go over an authentic Morris chair they found second-hand, and then use it to replicate a new build.
Could you use some extra storage?
This Morris chair plan by Stan’s Plans has a build-in drawer right under the seat. It’s meant to hold your newspaper or book when you aren’t relaxing and reading, but it could also act as storage for any number of things.
To construct a Morris chair with a drawer under the seat, the front will need to be arranged as a blind rail. The drawer will fit snuggly between the front legs, suspended from wooden slates fitted between the pairs of legs at the sides.
The drawer in this plan doesn’t come with a handle, and so it must be opened by grasping in underneath the front board. For easier access, add a simple wooden knob. (If there’s extra wood lying around, this is a great way to use up excess material).
Michael Gaspari has a great YouTube tutorial on his own take of a solid pine Morris chair. This 22-minute video is beneficial for beginners, who want to see how the process comes together.
Uncover more interesting history around the Morris chair online, through FDR Foundation at Adam’s House. Author Lary Shaffer has been building Morris chairs for over seven years, and offers great insight regarding the building process.
His finished Morris chair is a great inspiration for a slightly different look. The white oak chair has slimmer legs and smaller slats than most other Morris chairs you will see.
If you love woodworking projects but don’t want to commitment to hours and hours of work, check out the Morris chair plan by Shop Woodworking. They offer a 4-hour Morris chair plan, and the finished product turns out modern and sleek.
You can access a great summary video for free, but if you want the full detailed plans, you’ll need to pay a small fee ($15).
If you’re an expert woodworker that doesn’t need instructions and can create furniture just based on a visual image, we strongly encourage you to check out Scarborough Marsh Fine Furniture and attempt one of specialized Morris chairs from the 1987 – 1917 catalogs.
The Roman Morris chair resembles something of a throne, while the Mission Morris chair is a bit more simplistic. If you want to get really daring and technical, the reclining rocker number 2450 or 277 seem to require some inventiveness and specialized detail.
Okay, you’re done your chair. Time to get on with the upholstery.
Popular Woodworking has a great Gustav Stickley upholstery PDF with drawings indicating the cut in fabric pieces, sizes of foam and cushioning materials. If you don’t want to use leather for your Morris cushions, this is a great fabric plan.
It also offers links to additional resources that can help you with your Morris chair cushions.
So, your Morris chair is finally complete, with upholstered cushions and all. Ready for your next project?
What about a matching Morris-style ottoman or coffee table? Woodworkers Workshop has a 2-for-1 PDF plan that will compliment your new chair perfectly.
You can see images of the furniture pieces and access what tools, wood, and supplies you will need, but if you need detailed instructions, there is a small price to pay (under $10 dollars). We think it’s well worth it.
Whether you are looking to make your very first set of Morris chair cushions, or need to replace worn down ones, eHow has a straightforward guide. This is a nice and simple plan with a “thing’s you’ll need” list that you can check off as you collect supplies.
Disclaimer: this cushion plan features zippers, so if you’re not completely working with them, try one of our other Morris cushion plans.
If you’ve never worked with leather before, don’t worry. Lumber Jocks has an incredibly precise step-by-step guide on how to properly upholster a Morris chair and ottoman with leather.
The guide walks through creating a wooden seat frame, adding nylon webbing, spray-gluing a high-density foam cushion to the webbing, cutting leather pieces and attaching them to the frame, and finally adding cambric non-woven fabric to the underside to act a dust cover.
This plan even includes an example of a handmade webbing stretcher, made of a block of wood and sheathing nails. You couldn’t ask for more in a DIY Morris chair upholstery plan.
3D Warehouse has an interactive Gustav Stickley Morris chair model that lets you explore the chair top to bottom.
It’s great idea to get up close and study the joinery before taking on this DIY project.
If you are using Walnut to create your Morris chair, check out Lumber Jocks.
The finished product is coated with shellac and five coats of Arm-R-Seal, proving that you can have beauty and quality in one.
The UK Workshop has a great thread on the ins and outs of building a traditional Stickley Morris chair, made with quarter sawn white oak. This is one of our favorite morris chair plans.
There is a lot of helpful dialogue on this thread, with suggestions and questions that the main author addresses.
The photos on this thread are high quality and can easily be enlarged. If you like visuals of the process, check out this plan.
Compliment your new Morris chair with a 1912 Stickley side table by Canadian Woodworking and Home Improvements.
If you want to maintain the traditional Morris-Stickley style, use white oak for this small table. It also looks great in cherry, walnut, and mahogany, so if you’ve used one of these woods for your chair, go ahead and use it for the table as well.
Tree Frog Furniture has it right when they describe the Stickley Morris chair as “the original La-Z-Boy.”
This article is great if you’re interested in learning more about the specifics that make the Stickey Morris chair unique.
If you’re close to completion but need some extra advice for finishing you chair, Rick Helm has some great input.
Bonus: once you’ve used his advice to finish your masterpiece, you don’t need to search around for a footstool plan – that’s included on the very same page.
Prefer to follow along a DIY video? MTA Bernig has a completely free four-part video series to help you out.
If the video series above isn’t working for you, try watching the series by Gregory Paolini. This series is broken down into smaller, more detailed segments.
Paolini offers in-depth videos on everything from sanding, to clamping, to installing corbels.
If you want to know what any of the various Morris chair techniques look like, this is your answer.
Vegan, vegetarian, or just an animal lover?
Check out the process for making traditional faux leather Morris chair cushions on Practical Upholstery.
If you’re interested in recovering your old Morris chair cushions, check out Ms. Betties “Mission With The Morris Chair” project.
We love the idea wrapping a feather down around an old, deflated cushion to give it back some height.
By know you have reviewed the morris chair plans and decided to try one out. But do you need some extra help with sizing mortises for your Morris chair?
Popular Woodworking Magazine has great detailed tips, as well as a short video dedicated to sizing mortises for morris chair plans.
What about some assistance with laying out mortises on curved parts ?
Popular Woodworking Magazine to the rescue again! This helpful article introduces a handy tool for this process, called a “stick.”
Okay, so there aren’t any instructions with this Morris chair plan, but it’s just too beautiful not to include on this list.
Lumber Jocks arbor bow arm Morris chair will inspire you to add some woodland detail to your project.
If you want to learn more about the history of the Morris chair and its evolution to present day, check out the following links: