It is customary to make the width of the seat at the back a trifle less than at the front, in order to avoid the optical illusion of its appearing wider at the back than at the front, as is sometimes the case when the sides are parallel. This difference in width is about two or three inches.
Hepplewhite gives as the general dimensions of a chair: width in front 20 inches, depth of seat 17 inches, height of seat frame 17 inches, (bis chair seats are about 1-2 or 1 inch above the frame)-total height 3 feet 1 inch.The height of a chair back is a matter of design, and it may be proportioned accordingly. It may, or may not, be inclined to the seat; its side posts may be slightly inclined, while the middle slopes considerably, thus providing a hollow in which the shoulders of the sitter rest comfortably. Modern chairs usually have the back inclined, though chairs for use in the entrance hall and dining-room are, perhaps, made with the back vertical.
The amount of slope given the back depends on the use to which the chair is put. An easy chair reclines the most, and just as a low chair is deeper in the seat than a high chair, so, too, may the back slope more on a low seat chair than on a high one. A chair with arms may also have a back more inclined than one without.
The appearance of stability is largely influenced by the inclination of the back. So much so, that it is found desirable in most chairs to slope the back legs outwards a little to counteract the apparent tendency of the chair to upset. An arbitrary rule is: the slope of the back for a chair without arms should not be more than one fourth the depth of the seat and chairs with arms not more than one half.
The legs and rails of chairs should appear firm enough to support, not alone the chair, but the person that sits in it. For chairs with straight legs, whether turned or square in section, the matter of strength is one of size only. The bandy-leg, however, requires more care that the curve may not be too great. Rococo work defies the laws of wood structure, yet it may be properly made so as, in a measure, to reconcile the critic to its eccentricity. In describing the rococo table leg (page 14) it was told1 how to overcome the apparent, as well as actual, weakness of this form of support, and what was said then will apply as well to chair legs.
'Many chairs are more or less upholstered. It may be the seat only that is thus treated, or the entire woodwork, except perhaps the legs, may be hidden by a covering of upholsterer's work.
The simplest methods of upholstering seats are the two padded -1
varieties in which no springs are used. No. i, Plate XI., shows a cheap way when a hard seat is not objectionable, and it is desirable that there should be a little elasticity. In the illustration the padding is fastened directly to the frame of the seat so when complete it appears the same as an upholstered, spring seat. In some instances the padding is fastened to a separate, loose frame resting in a rebate of the seat frame, and if the chair is turned bottom up the seat will fall out. Such is the way Chippendale and Hcpplcwhite chairs are often made.
The foundation for the padded seat is webbing stretched as tightly as possible across the frame, front to back, and side to side. The widths interlace, over and under, each other so as to make a firm plaited mat covering the frame. On top of this a piece of burlap is stretched and tacked all round the edge of the frame. On the burlap is spread sufficient curled hair to make the requisite padding of the seat, and this is held in place by a piece of muslin, or cotton flannel, drawn tightly over it and tacked to the side of the frame. The webbing and burlaps are tacked to the upper edge. The seat is now ready for any cover that may be chosen, and when at hand the upholsterer spreads it over the muslin cover and tacks it to the frame. The tack heads are afterwards covered by a gimp, which is usually glued on, even though nails are afterwards driven in to apparently secure it. The seat just described is the simplest, as well as the cheapest form of upholstery permissible in good work. It has the * disadvantage of being hard, and in a short time the webbing becomes stretched so the seat sags in the middle.
A better seat, requiring a little more work, is shown in No. 2, Plate XI. It differs from No. 1 only in the amount of hair and the way it is used. As there is more hair than in the first instance, the seat frame is made lower that the extra quality of hair may not raise the seat too high.
The hair is placed on the webbing foundation and covered with burlaps. The edges arc then stitched by passing a needle in at the side, out at the top, and then back again to the side, and so forth, until the entire edge of the seat has been sewed in this way. When the edge becomes quite hard and firm with the amount of hair that has been stitched in it the middle of the seat is also sewed through and through until it is a trifle lower than the edges. This makes a firm, somewhat hard, hair cushion with its edge a little higher than the rest. The hollow is then well filled with hair, and over this the
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