The 20 Very Best Dining Chairs
Dining-room chairs are a unique category of furniture. Unlike couches (for which prices can range from a couple hundred dollars for a West Elm loveseat to hundreds of thousands for a Finn Juhl), some designer options are often rather close in price to their direct-to-consumer counterparts. Because of this, and their small footprints, dining chairs are an easy way to experiment aesthetically, whether you’re looking for a Shaker element or something pink and velvet. To surface the best-looking pieces (that are durable and budget friendly), we asked 16 experts — including design historians, architects, and interior designers — to share their favorites. Below are some thoroughly vetted choices, including a historically significant Viennese café chair with its own Wikipedia page and the startlingly inexpensive, thrice-recommended Article Svelti, which architect Ming Thompson describes as “the perfect piece of furniture for when you want to add color but don’t want to spend $3,000 on a red couch.”
Best overall | Best less expensive | Best square-backed | Best cantilevered | Best vintage | Best cane | Best postmodern-influenced | Best Windsor | Best curved | Best for extra-small spaces | Best Scandinavian | Best clear-plastic | Best bentwood | Best velvet | Best customizable | Best contemporary | Best stackable | Best heirloom | Best Shaker | Best stool
What we’re looking for
Material: In general, dining chairs are made of materials that make them comfortable and solid enough to sit in for hours but lightweight enough that you won’t pull a muscle or gouge your floor as you move them around. Most options on our list are made of wood, steel, plastic, or a combination of the three. For a plastic chair, UV resistance is a useful feature; it will prevent it from fading in the sun — something to which even indoor chairs are susceptible.
Style: In a search for a stylish dining chair, you’ll likely encounter too many worthwhile options rather than too few — from zany postmodern squiggles to exemplars of pure “chairness,” a quality design historian Charlotte Fiell defines as “how a kid would draw a chair.” One way to narrow your criteria is by considering an item’s visual footprint. Translucent plastic, panels made from rattan with an open weave (also known as caning), or thin wooden spindles make for a lighter silhouette, better for small spaces, while a solid back, heavy fabric, or wide legs are more visually dominant.
You may want to consider how a style complements your other furniture — either through resemblance or contrast. Lightweight, industrial chairs might have a similar silhouette to a postmodern coffee table; if you’re buying wooden chairs, you may want them to match the finish of other wood furniture. Still, don’t overthink it: if the main thing your chairs have in common is that you love them, that’s also a great design scheme.
Price: In most cases, you’ll be buying multiples of a dining chair (although some of the experts we spoke to, like The Little Book of Living Small author Laura Fenton, say it’s okay to mix and match). Start with your budget and table size and work back from there: You may want a less expensive option to fill a six-seater table, or you can splurge on a pair of design-y chairs to round out a set you already own. We’ve sorted the list by price into four tiers, all per chair: below $100 ($), below $200 ($$), below $300 ($$$), and above $300 ($$$$).
Another option for saving on chairs is to buy vintage, which Charlotte and Peter Fiell (co-authors of Chairs: 1,000 Masterpieces of Modern Design, 1800 to Present Day and Modern Chairs) recommend as a way to “get more for your money.” A good rule of thumb is to search for a design or style that has been continuously produced for many years — like a Parsons chair or Marcel Breuer’s Cesca chair — and set alerts on eBay, your local Craigslist, and resale sites like Chairish and 1stdibs. Listings for popular styles come up fairly frequently, giving you a choice of vendors in your area, and they’ll still be around years later if you need to add more to your set. (Some popular vintage chairs are still in production, but many are quite expensive new, so buying vintage is usually still a better deal.) It is harder to find a pristine vintage chair, but if you don’t mind some signs of wear or doing a light cleaning yourself, it can expand your range of affordable options.
Photo: Marcus McDonald
Article Svelti Chair $79 UV-resistant polypropylene | $ Multiple experts told us that Article’s Svelti chair is a prime example of thoughtful design at an accessible price. The plastic construction is durable and “absolutely kidproof,” according to Hunker editorial director Leonora Epstein. She appreciates the chair’s versatility: “You can take it outside. You can use it as a desk chair. You can use it as a dining chair.” Thompson likes that the chair comes in “great colors that are really matte” — like bright orange and a cool moss green — useful for buyers who want to add a trendy shade to their home but don’t want to commit to a larger or more expensive piece in a non-neutral color. Strategist writer Emma Wartzman, who used them as dining chairs for two years before moving them to the backyard, says, “They’ve held up great. No signs of wear and tear at all.” $79 at Article Buy
Best less expensive dining chair
Ikea Ivar Chair $40 $40 Pine | $ Writer Laura Fenton likes this chair from Ikea’s classic, inexpensive pine-furniture set, which she says “has been in the catalogue as long as I can remember.” She calls it “a great affordable option” and that it’s surprisingly versatile: “The lines are really simple and clean, so they can skew more modern, traditional, or country.” Plus the unfinished pine is easy to customize. “You can paint or stain them to the color that suits your décor and easily refinish them later if your tastes change or you pass them on to someone else,” she says. $40 at Ikea Buy
Best square-backed dining chair
Hay Elémentaire Chair $125 $125 UV-resistant polypropylene | $$ To design the Élémentaire chair, Hay partnered with the Bouroullec brothers — both preeminent French designers. Despite being made of plastic, the chair that resulted is “comfy, not hard on your back, and designed to be used all day, not just to look nice in a corner of your living room,” says Antoine Pons, owner of Momentum Design Store. He also appreciates the price: “It’s an affordable way to own a collectible from great designers.” $125 at HAY Buy $125 at Design Within Reach Buy
Best cantilevered dining chair
Ikea Clear Tobias Chair $105 $105 Photo: Retailer Polycarbonate plastic, chrome-plated steel | $ Former Strategist writer Leah Muncy owns two of these “extraordinarily comfortable,” wobble-free Ikea plastic cantilevered chairs. They accent four rattan chairs around her six-seater table, but the Tobias chairs are so much more comfortable that “my roommate and I only sit in the [Ikea] ones,” Muncy says. Strategist contributor and furniture reseller Billy Domineau also includes the chair on his list of ten Ikea pieces that are made to last: “It’s durable, versatile, and surprisingly comfortable,” he says. $105 at Ikea Buy
Best vintage dining chair
Mullca French School Chairs $102 Photo: Retailer Steel, plywood | $ I bought four of these steel-framed, plywood French school chairs while searching for a dining chair under $100, and they’ve become one of my favorite home purchases. The chairs are quite sturdy, easy to clean, and comfortable — they’re effectively my working-from-home office chairs, too, and they’re comfortable enough to sit in for hours at a time. Although the Mullca chairs are vintage and no longer available new, they were mass-produced in their prime and are easy enough to find on resale sites like Etsy and Chairish. They come in several styles and colors; if you’re trying to match a specific color you can’t find online, spray-painting the steel components would be a quick DIY workaround. I’m not their only fan — Dimes Square bar Le Dive has a bunch of them with cherry-red frames. $102 at Chairish Buy
Best cane dining chair
Affordable Seating Cane Wood Restaurant Chair $171 $171 Wood, cane | $$ Interior designer Charlie Hellstern discovered this woven cane-backed restaurant chair while searching for an affordable, nonplastic dining chair for a client. Several experts we spoke to caveated their love of cane furniture by mentioning its susceptibility to damage, but “choosing a chair made for restaurant use” like this one is a “good way to ensure durability,” Hellstern says. “Caning is one of the most ancient techniques, and I love how classic the look is with black-stained wood.” $171 at Affordable Seating Buy
Best postmodern-influenced dining chair
Best Windsor dining chair
Best curved dining chair
Industry West Ripple Chair $195 $195 Polypropylene | $$ For those looking for a quieter piece of furniture, interior designer Caitlin Murray says this chair’s open design and monochromatic colors make it a “soft addition” to an existing look. The polypropylene, she says, is durable and “very wipeable.” She recently bought a few in the matcha shade to furnish an outdoor dining area in a client’s Laurel Canyon home; the result, she says, felt like sitting in a tree house. $195 at Industry West Buy
Best folding chair for extra-small spaces
Arrmet Pocket Folding Chair From $130 Photo: Retailer Polypropylene or wood, steel frame | $$ For a dining-chair set you can bring out for a group and fold away when you’re not hosting, Fenton recommends these “clean-looking” chairs from Armett, which collapse “extremely slimly” compared to similar models. The design is “nice enough that you wouldn’t be sad to sit on it every day” and “a major upgrade from the Ikea ones my parents pull out of the garage when they have extra guests.” From $130 at Design Public Buy
Best Scandinavian dining chair
Normann Copenhagen Form Chair $277 $277 Photo: Retailer Polypropylene, oak | $$$$ According to Thompson, Normann Copenhagen is known for producing “beautiful furniture that’s super sturdy and built to last.” (Her firm has used its pieces to outfit offices, which demand furniture that can stand up to constant use.) She particularly likes the Form chair, which, in addition to a comfortable molded-plastic upper, has oak legs that offer a little more weight and gravitas. $277 at Finnish Design Shop Buy $395 at Royal Design Buy
Best clear-plastic dining chair
Best bentwood dining chair
Best velvet dining chair
Anthropologie Velvet Elowen Chair $398 $398 Photo: Retailer Cotton velvet, hardwood frame, brass legs | $$$$ These Anthropologie velvet chairs have the unusual endorsement of being “rabbitproof,” per Biggs, who uses them around a breakfast table in the room where she keeps two free-roaming pet rabbits. The velvet is “really plush,” she says, but its “dense weave” makes it tough enough to withstand animal-related wear and tear. Fur brushes right off — “I don’t even need to use the lint roller,” she says — and the bales of hay that Biggs stores near the chairs don’t damage the fabric. $398 at Anthropologie Buy
Best customizable dining chair
Eames Molded Plastic Side Chair From $295 From $295 Photo: Retailer Polypropylene, steel | $$$–$$$$ One of the most imitated plastic-chair designs, the Eames molded chair, was first introduced as an entry in a MoMA low-cost furniture competition in 1948. It’s a favorite of Tyler Watamanuk, author of chair-centric newsletter Sitting Pretty, who has sought out the chairs since buying a “terribly built” knockoff in his mid-20s. Compared with other historic chairs, its customizable range of materials, finishes, and heights is “seemingly endless.” Maddie Bailis, manager of new product and merchandising at Alex Mill, is a devotee of Eames side chairs. She owns a vinyl-upholstered pair that she rescued from a renovation of her family’s synagogue in a Philadelphia suburb as a 10-year-old; she reports that they’re still in good shape. From $295 at Design Within Reach Buy From $295 at Herman Miller Buy
Best contemporary dining chair
Best stackable dining chair
Arne Jacobsen Series 7 Chair $633 $633 Veneer shell, chrome-plated or powder-coated steel frame | $$$$ Originally developed for kitchens and canteens, the Series 7 chair is an “absolute icon of Scandinavian design,” according to Charlotte Fiell, who owns a set from the early 1960s and says that “they look good with more use” — especially the wood, which “builds up patina with age.” Fiell likes that the chairs come in plenty of colors, “stack well,” and have “a curved seat that looks like a smile.” $633 at Design Within Reach Buy $600 at Hive Modern Buy
Best heirloom dining chair
Carl Hansen & Søn Wishbone Chair From $635 From $635 Photo: Retailer Wooden frame, paper-cord seat | $$$$ Several of our experts recommended the Wishbone as their holy-grail chair. Watamanuk describes the chairs as “sturdy” and “comfortable,” and Thompson has had her set for more than a decade. Thompson mentions that Hans Wegner designed the chair in 1949 as part of a series based on portraits of Danish merchants sitting in Ming-dynasty chairs — a bit of backstory she values: “I love that there’s the Scandinavian purity but also the decorative, beautiful back that refers back to classical Chinese furniture.” She adds that the chairs are durable enough for a family with kids — albeit with a cushion added to protect the paper-cord seat. Her kids will spill “a whole bowl of spaghetti and meatballs on the chair,” she says, and the chairs have been just fine. From $635 at Design Within Reach Buy From $790 at Danish Design Store Buy
Best Shaker chair
Shaker #5 Side Chair $2,400 for 6 $2,400 for 6 Photo: Retailer Wood, cotton canvas | $$$$ “All I care about are Shaker chairs,” says Harper’s Bazaar fashion news director and Opulent Tips newsletter writer Rachel Tashjian. She recommends the Etsy store Llanfair Partners, which sells “really beautiful” pieces that are handmade to order, like these ladder-back chairs with a woven cotton canvas Shaker tape seat: “Can you imagine sitting in that chair and singing a plain, simple song?” (Although some items are listed as having just one left in stock, “it’s a ruse,” Tashjian says — the manufacturer will “make anything” if you request a custom order.) $2,400 for 6 at Etsy Buy
Best multipurpose stool
Kiosk48th Recycled Box Stool $131 $131 Photo: Retailer Recycled plastic | $$ Bailis describes this recycled-plastic stool from Danish brand Kiosk48th as her “secret fifth dining chair.” She uses it as a side table, pedestal, or plant stand, and “when I have more people over for dinner than I have chairs, I can just throw a pillow on it.” The speckled plastic is “a nice way to bring in color to an apartment without feeling like it’s going to eat the room.” [Editor’s note: The price at Kiosk48th is an estimated conversion of Swedish krona to USD.] $131 at Kiosk48th Buy $245 at End Clothing Buy
• Diana Budds, senior story producer at Curbed
• Maddie Bailis, manager of new product and merchandising at Alex Mill
• Sophie Collé, furniture designer
• Leonora Epstein, senior content director at Hunker
• Laura Fenton, author of The Little Book of Living Small
• Charlotte Fiell, co-author of Chairs: 1,000 Masterpieces of Modern Design, 1800 to Present Day and Modern Chairs
• Peter Fiell, co-author of Chairs: 1,000 Masterpieces of Modern Design, 1800 to Present Day and Modern Chairs
• Charlie Hellstern, interior designer
• Julia Noran Johnston, founder and president of Business of Home
• Leah Muncy, former Strategist writer
• Caitlin Murray, founder and principal designer at Black Lacquer Design
• Antoine Pons, founder of Momentum Design Store
• Aran Simi, vintage dealer
• Rachel Tashjian, Harper’s Bazaar fashion news director
• Ming Thompson, architect at Atelier Cho Thompson
• Emma Wartzman, Strategist writer
• Tyler Watamanuk, author of Sitting Pretty newsletter
• Michael Yarinsky, co-founder of Office of Tangible Space
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
How to Choose Chairs for Your Dining Table
Don't pass on a stunning dining table just because it doesn't come with chairs. Your table and chairs don't have to match. Your chairs do need to suit your table's scale and style. Here's what to consider when you choose chairs for your dining table:
For comfort, the respective scales of your dining table and chairs must be compatible.
If you measure from the top of the table to the floor, most dining tables range from 28 to 31 inches high; a 30-inch height is the most common. From the top of the seat to the floor, dining chairs frequently range from 17 to 20 inches high. That means the distance between the seat and tabletop could be anywhere from 8 to 14 inches.
The average diner finds a distance of 10 to 12 inches the most comfortable, but it varies by the thickness of the tabletop, the height of the apron, and by the size of the diner.
To find the seat-height-to-table-height distance you find comfortable, test a table (or tables) with a mix of different chairs.
You can visit a furniture store with lots of kitchen and dining sets on display. Or, simply pay attention to your comfort level when you dine out. Keep a small measuring tape in your purse or pocket so you can note the exact distance when you find one that fits.
Don't just measure from table's top to the seat. If the table doesn't have an apron, measure from the bottom of the tabletop to the top edge of the chair seat. If the table has an apron, measure from the bottom of the apron to the top of the seat.
Note whether the chair seat is hard or upholstered. Upholstered seats tend to compress when you sit. If the padding is thick, the compression may be substantial. To get an accurate reading, measure from the top of the upholstered seat to the floor while the chair is empty, and then have someone measure it again while you sit. Add the difference between the two to your ideal table-to-seat distance.
Tip If you visit a furniture store to test different chair and table heights, tell the salesperson what you're doing so she doesn't lose her spot on the "UP" list—a system used in certain stores to help determine which salesperson will be assisting a customer.
Width and Depth
Scale isn't just about compatible heights. You also need chairs that actually fit under your table. If they don't, your diners won't feel comfortable and you'll damage both table and chairs.
The chairs you place at each end of a rectangular or oval dining table should slide under the table without bumping into the table legs, or into the base of a pedestal or trestle table. Those guidelines also apply to every chair you use with square and roundtables.
If you plan to use two or more chairs on each long side of the table, make sure there's room to slide them underneath with bumping each other or the table's base or legs. If the chair seats touch, diners feel cramped and uncomfortably close. The same is true for roundtables; leave at least two inches of space between each chair.
Arm and Back Heights
If you use dining chairs with arms at any type of table, make sure the tops of the arms don't brush or bump the bottom of the tabletop or apron. In addition to the inevitable damage your chair arms will suffer, diners may not be able to sit close enough to the table to eat comfortably.
The final scale concern when choosing chairs for a mixing room table is the difference between the table height and the overall chair height. Make sure the backs of your chairs are taller than the top of the table. Taller is better, but a height difference of two inches is the absolute minimum. The chairs look squatty otherwise.
In addition to choosing tables and chairs of compatible scale, the pieces need to look good together. The styles must be compatible too.
Choosing tables and chairs with a common element usually ensures that they'll look good together. That common element can be the period, the color undertone of the finish, or the level of formality. It can even be a single design element, such as the furniture legs or feet. That said, don't choose tables and chairs that share all of the same elements or you might as well just buy a matching set.
If you have an 18-century mahogany double-pedestal dining table with a gleaming French polish, it's not going to look right paired with distressed pine ladder-back chairs with coarse rush seats. It's also not the right table for a mismatched collection of metal ice cream parlor chairs or folding French garden chairs made with wooden slats.
A planked farmhouse table with turned legs is the better choice with any of the chairs from the previous paragraph, but it won't look right with the Chippendale ribbon-back chairs that are ideal for the mahogany table.
However, upholstered Parsons chairs or painted Hitchcock chairs both work with either of the aforementioned tables.
The Parsons chair—an upholstered slipper chair with dining chair proportions—has simple lines that are neutral enough to work with most table styles. Its level of formality depends primarily on the fabric used to upholster it.
The painted finish of the Hitchcock chair makes it compatible with most wood finishes. Its woven seat makes it casual enough for the farm table. The gold stenciling and classic shape make it dressy enough for a formal table.
As with most decorating rules, there are exceptions. When mixing a dining table and chairs, the exception is when the pairing works because it's so outrageous.
If you mix an uber-sleek contemporary zebrawood dining table with a set of early American maple chairs, it just looks like you have no taste and no sense of what's appropriate.
If you mix that same table with a collection of carved-and-gilded chairs prissy enough to make Marie Antoinette look like a casual gal, the look is deliberate and avant-garde.
You'll still get some raised eyebrows from your more provincial pals, but the fashion-forward folks on your guest list will wish they'd thought of it first.
The Best Wood for Chairs
The author making a reproduction (right) of the chair Thomas Jefferson sat in when writing the Declaration of Independence. All woods are the same as the original: maple legs and arm posts, poplar seat and mid-arm back, hickory spindles, white oak arms and crest rail.
I stared at 150 chairs, every one of them so loose as to be dangerous to sit in. “I have tried everything to no avail,” the owner said. “Do you know the glue they advertise on TV where one drop between two blocks of wood holds a car suspended in the air?” he asked me in exasperation. “Well I must have used half a pint on each chair, and they still came apart.”
“I’ll admit you cabinetmakers have some secrets. Will you fix the chairs for me?”
I said no, explaining that the chairs were made out of the wrong kind of wood and that they would never hold together for any length of time. He stalked off, obviously convinced I was out of my mind.
The preceding is a true account of a conversation between myself and the owner of a large, beautiful restaurant located on the banks of the Delaware River. The chairs in question are normally referred to as “captain’s chairs.” The original chair from which these were copied has proved to be a sturdy and practical design, made since the early 1800s. Why then were the chairs I was asked to repair not only falling apart, but incapable of restoration? Because the complete chair—legs, seat, spindles, and back—was all of soft white pine!
It seems impossible that a large manufacturer would devote great sums of money and many man hours of work producing chairs with such an obvious fault. And yet, hardly a week goes by that I don’t come in contact with chairs made with the wrong choice of wood.
A chair, especially the plank-seated chair, takes greater stresses, strains, and shocks than any other piece of furniture used in the home because of its everyday use in kitchens, dining rooms, and general living areas.
Imagine the stress placed on the legs and back of a chair that a 200-lb. person sits in three times a day while eating. First, the chair is dragged across the floor, then the body lowers into the seat, shoving forward a few inches with the full 200 lb. of weight on the base. Finally, the squirm and the wiggle to settle in! During serving and passing food to others, the weight is constantly shifting back and forth on the different legs of the chair. Now comes the balancing act! 200 lb. are thrown entirely onto the two back legs. Next is the coming down with accumulated speed to an abrupt stop, then the shoving of the chair to the rear with all the weight intact, and the final dragging to a place of rest.
Isn’t it a wonder that these chairs have held up as long as they have? Here are the reasons why.
Early chairmakers invariably used hard maple. It was easy to come by, but more importantly it is very hard, will resist impression, and does not splinter. Its fine, dense grain makes it easy to turn on the lathe. It also has tremendous resistance to abrasion, a quality especially needed where the legs of a chair meet the floor.
Base stretchers, too, were generally made of maple, only occasionally with white oak or hickory. In those cases I believe the chairmaker took into consideration a possible bending stress on the middle of a stretcher caused by the weight of feet that might be placed there. Whether the amount of stress was enough to put up with the more difficult turning qualities of the woods is debatable. In any event, although the stretchers are not to be considered as important as the legs in terms of abrasion, they too must be of a very hard wood.
Here the chairmaker’s choice was influenced a great deal by the way the seat had to be contoured and shaped. Structurally they could have used a hardwood, but they knew that scooping out a comfortable seat would require at least a 2-in.-thick plank to allow for ample depth to receive the legs, back, and arm posts. The scooping-out process was done with an adze, a large chisel, and shaped scrapers. It was laborious and time-consuming, so in the interest of ease and economy they chose softwoods to make the seat. The chairmaker knew that the greater thickness of softwood would allow the legs and spindles to be deeply seated and, at the same time, weigh less, so they chose either pine or poplar, and only quite rarely a hardwood.
There were many types of chair backs, but for this discussion let me make two categories: the low back and the tall back. The low-back chair is called a “captain’s chair,” the type I referred to in the incident with the restaurant owner. This chair is very comfortable because of the large rolled and contoured shape that forms the back and the substantial arms. I have seen no exception to the use of either pine or poplar for this purpose. However, the short-turned spindles were always of either hard maple, oak, or ash. The great dimension of the softwood back and arms allowed the hardwood spindles deep penetration.
The earliest type of low-back was a Windsor chair, which used pine or poplar for the back rail only, and here again it was thick enough to allow deep penetration of the spindles. The arms, which were thinner and therefore did not allow the spindles to be deeply seated, were either of white oak or maple.
The tall-back plank-seated chairs, which have spindles that run from the seat to the top or crest, are almost always of split-out hickory (wood split rather than ripped to rough size to ensure straight grain). A wood is needed that allows for movement—a wood that will give and spring back. Because of the small diameter of the spindles, the wood must have resiliency and an ability to resist fracture. Hickory is the only wood I know of that combines all these qualities.
When there is a thin, bent piece of wood incorporated into the back structure, it is almost always of split-out white oak, a wood that can be steamed and bent to rather small radii without fracturing. It also has great resiliency and hardness. Bent mid-arm rails, cresting rails, and backs are invariable made of split-out steam-bent white oak.
The decision regarding what woods to use for a specific chair part was to some degree made easier for the earlier chairmakers because most of their chairs were painted. Or perhaps they were painted because the chairmaker used various woods. In any event, chairmakers today may want to use other woods than those used by the earlier craftspeople for esthetic considerations.
There’s no reason why not as long as one follows these guidelines:
Use hardwoods where there will be shocks and abrasions.
Use softwoods only in great thicknesses.
Never join softwood to softwood.
In other words, do not use a wood for a purpose for which it is unsuited. Following is a list of some available woods and the purposes to which they are suited, in my opinion. Others may disagree on ·specific points. For instance, hickory could be used to make a chair seat and structurally it would stand up. However, its density and hardness make it extremely difficult to sculpt to shape, and its weight would be a disadvantage.
Walnut, Cherry: Good for all parts but has limited steam bendability.
Birch: Good for most parts, but very hard to sculpt.
Beech: Same as for birch, but fractures too easily when making thin spindles.
Sycamore: Great grain for seats, but has a tendency to warp. All right for legs and stretchers, but not for spindles.
Red Oak: Has a very coarse, unattractive grain, but may be used for most parts.
White Oak: Perfect for steam-bent parts, good for spindles and other parts. Too hard and heavy for seat.
Maple: Perfect for legs, stretchers, and posts, but too hard and heavy for seats. Can be used if desired.
Poplar, Pine: For seats in 2-in. thicknesses or better and for heavy back and arm sections. Do not use for any other parts!
Ash, Hickory: All parts except seats.
Mahogany: Great for most cabinet furniture, but really not suited for plank-seated chairs except as pine and poplar are used.
Spruce, Fir: No use.
Sign up for eletters today and get the latest techniques and how-to from Fine Woodworking, plus special offers. Sign Up