Dining Chair

Marc Spagnuolo

The Dining Chair project is unique in that it takes you through the design of a chair prototype. You'll actually see the entire design process as well as the build process from start to finish. If you find the concept of chairs intimidating, this is a great project to break the ice. While we provide plans for the final version of the chair as presented, we also encourage you to take this information and use it to design a chair of your own. With clear step by step instructions, anyone can build a chair.

This chair would look good in many settings and look especially good around the Gaming Dining Table and the Trestle Table. The chair measures 17" W x 18" D x 40" H.

  • 18 lessons
  • 229 min
  • $79.00

Here's what we'll cover:

  1. Getting Started

    What to expect, what tools you need, and what you’ll learn!

  2. Extracting Details

    Examining three existing chairs, we can extract information and specific dimensions for our chair.

  3. Drawing Pt. 1

    The main overhead view of the seat frame is a good place to start with our chair design.

  4. Drawing Pt. 2

    The chair design really starts to take shape with the drawing of the legs and the backrest.

  5. Cut List & Templates

    We can now develop a cut list, rough cut our stock, and make our templates.

  6. Rear Legs

    The rear legs are perhaps the most complicated parts of this project. But with a systematic approach, we can make the process fairly straightforward.

  7. Front Legs

    The front legs receive mortises and simple tapers.

  8. Rails

    The rails are mitered, which makes the mortising pretty tricky. But I have a simple method that you’re going to love!

  9. Crest Rail

    The crest rail is cut and fit, but we make a quick design change that adds to the elegance and comfort of the chair.

  10. Backrest

    The backrest is joined to the headrest and back rail.

  11. Crest Rail & Back Rest Refinement

    Both the crest rail and the back rest need some refinement.

  12. Assembly

    Sub-assemblies make our lives easier as the chair takes shape!

  13. Seat Options

    With three different options, you can really make this chair suit your personal tastes.

  14. Design Critique

    Let’s work through some of the excellent feedback I received about the chair!

  15. Batching Out

    A look at batch-processing and the jigs and techniques that make it possible.

  16. Leg Leveling

    A quick and simple way to get your legs nice and even with eachother.

  17. Finishing

    A Waterlox wiping varnish finish is applied with care.

  18. Final Version Comparison

    We take one last look at the prototype and compare it to our final version.

What will I receive?

  • Detailed cut list and plans including a PDF and a SketchUp file (metric and imperial).
  • Printable PDF files for patterns to make templates for various chair parts.
  • Hours of detailed video instruction showing every step of the build, from design to finishing.
  • All videos and plans are digital and will be available for download upon purchase. 

What will I learn?

  • Chair design
  • Chair construction
  • How to draw a new design
  • How to make project templates
  • Complex mortises made simple
  • Loose mortise & tenon construction
  • Tapering legs
  • Adding decorative elements
  • Shaping and fitting curved back rests and crest rails
  • Assembly strategy
  • Seat options
  • Upholstering
  • How to level chair legs
  • How to think critically about a design
  • How to apply a wiping varnish finish (Waterlox)

What will I need?


These are approximate numbers. You’ll want to buy more for waste and grain selection. Bell Forest Kits are available here (Guild members get 10% off with code). For a single chair:

  • 8.5 Board Feet of 8/4 Hardwood
  • 2.5 Board Feet of 5/4 Hardwood
  • 1 Sheet of 3/4″ Plywood (Seat Platform)


Note: This is not a required list of tools. This is simply what I used during the build. Remember, there are always multiple ways to accomplish a task so if you don’t have one or more of these tools, you can very likely still make this project.

  • Oscillating spindle sander
  • Spokeshave
  • Block plane
  • Small Rasp
  • Bandsaw
  • Router
  • Jointer
  • Planer
  • Table saw
  • Miter gauge
  • Miter Saw
  • Drill
  • Upholstery gun and staples



This was one of my first Guild Projects I purchased, and I am glad I did. Not only is it very well presented, and takes you step by step, but what I practically liked about this guild project was Marc walks you through his design process and how to determine certain aspects of a project. That knowledge alone is well worth the cost of this project because you can take that into other project ideas you may have. Plus, once you buy one project, your a guild member for life! That opens up a world of vast knowledge from other members. This includes monthly guild meetings, TWW Guild Facebook group, where you can bounce ideas and share creations with other members. Throw all that in with the project and that is some bang for your buck! Worth every penny! So find a project you like, and join the Guild!!!

Chris Fehringer
Guild Member

This was by far the most challenging project build I’ve ever done, but I am so pleased with the finished results. Seeing how Marc actually sets about designing and drawing out the chair design really helps get an understating of the project and how the parts and joinery interact.
The instructional videos are great, with clear and concise explanations of what is being done and why at each step. Its great to be able to download and take the videos into the workshop as a reference as you build.
The templates are great, easy to print out and the curves on the chairs are really comfortable.
All in all a great project the with detailed instructions and templates that make a really elegant piece achievable, even if like me you’ve never made a chair before.
Thanks Marc, big thumbs up for this build.

Guild Member

After building a new dining table a year ago it was time for the chairs and along came Marc with a design that more than gained approval from my best half. The curves and angles make it very visibly appealing but with Marc’s excellent plans and instructions it’s still approachable for the hobbyist. The loose tenon joinery allowed me to increase the dimensions a bit with nary a headache. The versatile design easily adapts to a solid wood seat rather than the cushioned seat shown. Even though these were the first chairs I’ve built I now feel confident that I could design and build my own. Thanks Marc!

Guild Member
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About Your Instructor:

Marc is a podcaster, video producer, woodworking enthusiast, and author of Hybrid Woodworking and Essential Joinery. He has contributed articles and video content to FineWoodworking.com, Popular Woodworking Magazine, WOOD Magazine, and Woodcraft Magazine. He is also the host of The Wood Whisperer, an instructional woodworking video series that’s been going strong since 2006. He is also one of the hosts of the Wood Talk podcast. He has taught classes at the William Ng School, Marc Adams School, Weekend with Wood, Fine Woodworking Live, as well as at various Rockler and Woodcraft stores. He also speaks periodically at woodworking events like AWFS and IWF.