A Very Simple Jig for Boring Leg Holes in Windsor Chair Seats

Alright.  All the really good guys use sliding bevels, mirrors, try-squares and any number of other arcane methods to help them bore holes in a Windsor seat plank.  I’m a devotee of tradition.  However, I’m not a slave to it.  I’m working on a little Stick Windsor (practice chair) and decided that what was really important here was getting the thing put together with some semblance of accuracy.  So I used the little boring jig pictured below.  While I’d like to take credit for it, I cannot tell a lie.  The idea came from Thomas Moser’s book, “Windsor Chairmaking”.


I actually put the entire assembly (with jig) in the vise, in a vertical position.  This made boring the elm much easier.  That said, I did work up more than a few beads of perspiration.  Elm is tough.  Of course that’s why it’s great for seat planks.

I decided to use cylindrical tenons turned on the lathe, for this chair.  This means that I won’t need to do any taper reaming.  If I were going to use a tapered type undercarriage on a “one off” project, I probably would not go to the bother of building the jigs (one front, one back).  However, if I was doing multiples, the jigs would offer a significant advantage.  The guide blocks are simply screwed to the supporting 2×4, so the same jig could be used for varying seat widths.

Two other thoughts in closing:  First, If I were going to use the jig in a production basis, I’d make the guide blocks from something harder than Douglas Fir, hard maple or even Elm would hold up much better.  (But the “DougFir” was here.)   If I decided to become a complete “sell-out”, this same set up could be used with a drill motor and long stem spade bits by simply putting an appropriately sized spacer underneath the jig, leaving adequate clearance for the spade.  Did I just say that?  This is supposed to be a blog about working wood by hand!  Well, I said it and I’m not going to take it back.  You’ll see what I mean when you start cranking that brace and the bit starts to bite into that elm!  Whew, is it tough!

Explore posts in the same categories: Period furniture building, workbenches and work-holding

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