The Construction of the Antique English Windsor Chairs
No one would ever want to take a genuine antique English Windsor chair apart to examine its construction. But if you did, you would probably find that no type of glue had ever been used to help hold the chair together. You may ask how such a solidly built chair could stay together in this way. The answer would be by the use of wedged tenon joints.
The idea is that a round hole is bored into one of the two pieces to be joined together, i.e. in this case it would be the seat. The hole would match the shape of the end of the leg that is to go into that hole.
The leg is then slotted into place and wedges are used to ensure a tight fit that will not move or give way. Thus no glue or other fixings are needed, and once the wedges have been cut to fit the hole with no excess sticking out, the joint is complete.
The same process was also used to ensure the spindles remained tight in their respective holes once they were added to the chair design. Indeed every joint that was required in the creation of an antique English Windsor chair would be done in this way. It would ensure that the joints would not become loose over time. The wedge would be shaped like a piece of cake, with the outer edge thicker than the edge that had been driven in alongside the joint. This would make it very difficult for the joint to fail, particularly as it had been created by a master craftsman.
The reliability of this type of joint is borne out by the fact that it is still used very commonly today. But it was an essential skill for chair makers creating English Windsor chairs in times gone by, and the strength provided by such a joint is indicated by the age of the chairs that are available to buy as antiques today. If you see an antique English Windsor chair at any point, the chances are good that you will see evidence of these joints if you take a closer look.