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Comparison of Traditionally Made Windsor Chairs to Factory Made Chairs

Because I firmly believe that an educated consumer is my best friend, I have included many pages on this website to share my viewpoints on Windsor Chairs and especially, why the chairs that I make are better than factory produced chairs.

This page is intended to show the advantages of a traditionally made Windsor Chair when compared to a factory made chair. Obviously this information is based on my opinions and impressions. The comparisons I make are between a chair that I make and a similar chair that is currently being sold. The chair that I selected for comparison is from Restoration Hardware. It is a good quality chair and less expensive than one of my traditionally made chairs.

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Restoration Hardware Continuous Arm Chair
This is the chair I will use for comparison. To be realistic, I am not using an inexpensive chair, but rather I will use this good quality model from Restoration Hardware. This chair is still substantially less expensive than mine, and that of other traditional chairmakers, retailing for $300.

Two Continuous Arm Chairs - Mine on Left, Factory on Right
This picture gives you a sense of the overall lines of the two chairs. In my view the chair on the left has nicer lines and better composition. The arch shape on the back of the right chair is very heavy looking and makes the chair look top heavy. Also, the splay (angle) of the front legs is larger and better looking in the chair on the left. Finally, the shape of the arms in the chair on the left tends to make the chair look more inviting.

Seat Comparison - Mine on Left, Factory on Right
In this picture, notice how the seat on the right is fairly thin and flat. The seat on the left is much more contoured (or saddled) and also is more attractive with sweeping curves across the front and a pronounced pommel. Also the seat on the left appears to be very thin, but...

Seat Comparison - Mine on Left, Factory on Right
Notice how the seat in the chair on the left is really much thicker than the chair on the right. This offers the advantages of allowing much deeper contours (which translate to more comfort) as well as deeper sockets to receive the legs yielding a stronger chair. By tapering the front edge of the seat, it introduces graceful lines, makes the composition of the chair work better, and allows the seat to be thicker for strength while making it thinner for aesthetic reasons. Also from this picture and the previous one, you can get an idea of how much more bulky the factory made spindles are than those of the traditionally made chair.

Back Comparison - Mine on Left, Factory on Right
In this view you can see the incorporation of bracing spindles in the chair on the left. These extra spindles add visual interest. They are especially desirable in a continuous arm chair to reduce flexing of the back which might eventually cause the continuous arm to crack at its bend. You can also see the differences in the shaping of the arm/back.

Weight Comparison - Mine on Left, Factory on Right
And for the big finish... I know it is difficult from these pictures to sense the strength of traditionally made chairs, especially since the material usage is so efficient and construction techniques are so effective. I did include this picture to try and give an illustration of the relative weights. I am not sure if it is clear from the picture, but hopefully you can see that I have basically counter-balanced the Restoration Hardware chair with two of mine. I don't want to overstate the case and say my chairs weigh half as much, but as you can see, they are certainly much lighter.

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