Settle Woodworking Plan

Settle Woodworking Plan
Settle Woodworking Plan

“Settle” is an old name for a wooden seat with a high back and raised armrests. This version reflects the early origins of the concept by using wedged-through tenons, one of the earliest carpentry techniques, dating from medieval times. It departs from tradition, however, in the gently curved profile of the ends, which give a more contemporary feel to the whole design. The example shown was made from wide boards of sweet chestnut, a much-neglected wood often mistaken for oak, with its attractive grain figure and delicate pale brown color.

Settle Woodworking Plan


• 3.3m (11ft) of 305 x 25 mm (12 x 1in) hardwood for the ends
• 3.3m (11ft) of 150 x 25mm (6 x 1in) hardwood for the seat
• 4.9m (16ft) of 125 x 25mm (5 x 1in) hardwood for the back and arm rests
• 1m (3ft) of 50 x 25mm (2 x 1 in) softwood batten for the seat braces
• 1100 x 610mm (43 x 24in) of 6mm (1/4 in) plywood or MDF (medium density fiberboard) for the template
• Wood glue
• 8mm (5/16 in) wooden dowels


The design employs a minimum of simple joints, yet it is strong and rigid. The wedged-through tenons are not glued, and the whole assembly can be taken apart whenever required. The seat can be made to any width, but these dimensions are suitable for a two-seater.


Position the seat slightly lower if you want to add an upholstered cushion, maintaining the overall height above the floor of 460mm (18in).



1. Make a full-sized template for the end profile from 6mm (1/4in) plywood or MDF. Use the scale drawing provided (figure 1), plotting the outline on a scaled-up grid to transfer the shape. Mark and cut out the mortise positions at the same time.

2. Begin by edge jointing all the components for the seat and the ends. Rout grooves in the edges of the boards and clamp them together with loose tongues for extra strength, Note the straight batten clamped over the work to keep it flat as the sash cramps (clamps) are tightened.

3. The armrests are laminated from a double thickness of wood, Make a template of suitable shape, cutting a 50 x 25mm (2 x 1 in) locating slot in it. Cut out and shape four pieces, using a router fitted with a follower cutter, Square off the ends of the locating slots.


4. Glue the armrest pairs together and set them aside for the glue to dry before shaping. Note the small block of wood inserted into the slot to keep the two pieces aligned. Remove the excess glue, sand smooth, and round off the edges.

5. Cut the ends roughly to shape, slightly oversize, and pin the template to each in turn. Mark through the template to transfer tile positions of tile cutouts for the tenons on to the workpiece so that both ends are identical.

6. Use a router fitted with a follower cutter to trim the ends to their final shape. Tile bearing on the end of the cutter follows the curved template beneath the work, which should be clamped firmly to the bench.


7. To make the cutouts, drill a hole at each end of the slot and join them with a jigsaw to remove the waste. Cut just inside the line. Pin the template to the reverse of the work, then use the router to trim the slot to size, as in the previous step.

8. Square the ends of each slot with a beveled chisel. A good tight fit to suit the thickness of the tenons will ensure a rigid construction when the latter are wedged in place. Ease the slots with a piece of sandpaper and a wooden block of the right size until a good sliding fit is achieved.

9. The seat is housed in a groove for maximum support. Clamp a straightedge to the inner face of each end to guide the router, aligning the groove exactly with the slots. A depth of 6mm (1/4 in) is sufficient for the housing. When the wedges on the seat are drawn uptight, the seat should fit securely in the housings.


10. Rout a similar 6mm (1/4 in) deep groove in the underside of each armrest to fit over the ends. Square off the end of the groove with a chisel to suit the exact length of the side location. Then radius the edges and sand smooth.

11. Drill two holes for 8mm (5/16 in) dowels in the edge of each end that supports the armrest. Insert the dowel center-paints and slot the armrest over the end piece, pressing down to mark the corresponding hole positions on the underside of the armrest. Drill the holes.

12. Make a template for the tenons, using the diagram (Figure 2) as a guide. Note the alternative shoulder lines that allow the same template to be used for both seat and back rails, the former being longer by 6mm (1/4 in). For the rails, the shoulders are flush to the inside face of the sides.


13. Cut the tenons on the ends of the back rails, and mark out the small slots for the wedges. Set the shoulder lines 915mm (36in) apart on each rail to the internal width of the seat. Trim the corners of the tenons, as shown, and sand them smooth.

14. Use the same template to mark out the tenons on the seat, but note how the shoulders are set forward by 6mm (1/4in) to allow for the housing groove that receives the seat. Scribe along the shoulder lines and cut the ends carefully to shape with a Jigsaw.

15. Drill out the slots for the wedges and remove the waste. Make each slot 16mm (5/18 in) wide, then use a chisel to form the small bevel shown in the diagram. Mark the bevel on the side of the tenon as a guide to keep the chisel at the correct angle.


16. Make ten wedges from offcuts (scraps) of wood. following the dimensions given. The angle of each wedge should fit the tile slot in its tenon exactly. Shape one wedge first, check for accuracy, then use it as a pattern for the others.

17. Before assembly, glue arid screw two 50 x 25mm (2 x 1in) battens to the underside elf the seat to stiffen it and help prevent any deformation of the edge-jointed sections. The battens are 25mm (1 in) shorter than the width of the seat at each end.

18. Assemble the settle, easing each tenon into Its slot and inserting the wedges temporarily to hold it together while you add the components. An assistant is useful at this stage to support the other end of the tile seat and rails.


19. Insert the rails with the slots facing- forward, as shown, and tap all the wedges home. Because the slots are inset slightly from the outer faces of the seat ends, the wedging action will tighten the whole assembly until it is completely rigid.

20. Finally, attach the armrests, locating them with the dowels and tapping them firmly into place. Use a block of scrap wood to protect the surface.


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