Zig Zag Chairs with the design from 1934.

Zig Zag Chairs, they look cool don’t they.  I saw a post from Tools For Working Wood‘s facebook page about New York Custom Contracting building a zig zag chair for a Festool demo.  I was like I have a Domino Joiner!  I should be able to make that.  So I ordered a 5’x5′ sheet of 3/4″ Baltic Birch from Boulder Lumber (free delivery! take that big box stores) that arrived in a few days since I ordered on a friday.  I have the Festool Domino 500 and thought the 8×50 domino’s should work.  I think New York Custom Contracting used 8×100’s but they must of had the Domino 700 which does crazy deep tenon’s.  The original design calls for bolts at the miters.  I think the Domino’s look nicer.

Now all I am missing are the plans!  Tools for Working Wood carries How to Construct Rietveld Furniture that gives complete measured drawings.  So I ordered up a copy and waited for it to arrive.

This is pretty straight forward, I cut  all the parts to width.  Now there are all sorts of funky angles on this chair as you can see.  I cut first to the largest width of each panel and stacked them up. 1 5×5 sheet is enough for three chairs.

I needed to set up a tenon jig, not to cut tenon’s but to cut the steep angle on the table saw.  I also picked up a CMT Digital Angle Gauge (this thing is spectacular, easy to zero, super easy to set the blade to whatever angle is needed).  My bosch contractor saw with a 80 tooth blade struggled on these miters I will not lie.  The saw did make the cuts cleanly as long as I went slow with feeding the plywood.  That steep angle makes for a very deep cut and at 80 teeth, one needs to be gentle.

With the miters cut I finished up the length cuts and the slight miter for the tilted back of the chair.  I then laid out all the parts and cut the angles on the sides with the festool TS55 Panel Saw.  Note these don’t fit perfectly as there are quite a few angles going together on the 45’s so I sanded after glue up. Sorry no pictures of the sawing.

Below is the chair mocked up before gluing.


Gluing was interesting how does one clamp these things?  I don’t have a picture but I set up some stops and used tape to hold the miter closed and upside down to the table.  Once the glue had setup I used the Domino 500 to seat a loose tenon perpendicular to each face so they lock together the miter joint.  The tenon’s will not fail as they are solid!  So its left to the ply to fail and its 3/4 Baltic Birch with many layers so not likely.


Next its glue the back on.  Easiest way to do this is with more tenon’s.  If one ever does this, that angle on the back is pesky!  Lets just say I know this from experience, you have to make sure you have the Domino lined up correctly or you are cutting a new back.  The plans call for dovetails here and well thats tricky on that angle and I love the Domino 500 so Domino’s are it.



The domino’s did not go all the way through as I did not have a 700 which can cut much deeper.  They went damn close though.  I was able to file the complete hole with a file but that was not as clean as a 700 could do.  The first chair was a mock up really so I didn’t mind experimenting.  For the next two I did not try to go all the way through.  The dominos went just beneath the surface of the other side. In fact, one burned through when sanding but that is fine I like the look.








All sanded and ready for finish.


The three of them stack nicely.


I actually sent these out for finishing as I don’t have a room or garage to spray them in.  They were sprayed with varnish.  They came out quite nicely and are a hit with the visitors.  Not bad for a sheet of plywood.


If anyone is interested in the design Tools for Working Wood carries the book which has measure metric drawings of all of Rietveld’s designs.

12 thoughts on “Zig Zag Chairs with the design from 1934.

  1. last question 😉 Did you use dominos inside the miters, routed at 22.5? Or did you just route perpendicular to each face so they lock together? Basically, do you have dominos at 3 different angles or just at 2 angles per miter?

  2. Its really a project for the 700 as it has longer dominos. I use the 500, from both sides. They lock the panels. The fillers and the dominos provide the support, the dominos are not likely to shear, they are solid beach.
    It would be difficult or impossible to domino the miters,

    • I finished it over the weekend. Used 4mm dominos on the miters and 8mm for locking. Basically, I have dominos at 3 angles in each miter. It seems to be rock solid. Thank you for your help.

      • Impressed that you got the miter domino’s, it would have helped with the glue up! Nice work on the build, I had someone 350 sit on mine, they are still kicking around looking just as interesting today.

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