Roorkee Chair Course

Presented by Hugh Anderson.


The Roorkee Chair belongs to the genre of Campaign Furniture. In the days of empires, there was a need for rugged, sturdy and simple furniture for military campaigns. Originally designed to be used by British Army Officers in India. They needed a chair that was light in weight, could be folded up, carried around easily and loaded onto a pack horse. Named in honour of the headquarters of Indian Army Corps of Engineers at Roorkee, United Provinces, India and mainstay of the Army and Navy Stores catalogues, the Roorkee chair was among the most popular models of campaign chairs used by British Officers from approximately 1898 to the start of World War ll. It also needed to be comfortable and able to adapt to use on uneven terrain without breaking. It is an engineering masterpiece, using minimal materials and able to provide comfortable seating, especially on uneven ground, due to the tapered mortices and tenons which join the rails to the leg.

It has had a revival in recent years, thanks to Christopher Schwarz who has researched and written a comprehensive book on Campaign Furniture (although it appears to have been continuously available in South Africa as a safari chair). It was inspirational for many modern furniture designers, especially Kaare Klint, generally regarded as the father of modern Danish furniture design. His “Safari Chair” was popular in many European and American homes.

The chairs were originally made in either mahogany or oak (or whatever local timbers were available) and the seat material either leather or canvas.

The design for the class is based on the Roorkee chair in Schwarz’s book, with minor variations in aesthetics, process and hardware, gleaned from the experience of making many these chairs over the last five years.

The timber needs to be a hardwood, such as The timber can be finished in a variety of ways, either shellac and beeswax, or a wipe-on finish like tung oil, Minwax Poly or Osmo.

The leather is an Italian 3.5-4.0mm double butt belt leather, available in a variety of colours, such as black, brown, tan or cognac is available in 3.5mm hides.

The leather work should present little difficulty to a wood worker. There is the layout on a leather hide of templates for cutting of the leather for the seat, back rest and thigh strap, and the use of a strap cutter to produce all the straps needed. Straps are attached to the seat and back leathers using copper rivets, they are not sewn.

You will have a most comfortable chair to relax into, and possibly one of the best chairs to take camping to sit around a camp fire.

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What you will learn

  • How to make a Roorkee Chair

What you will get

  • A beautifully crafted Roorkee Chair to take home!

What to bring

  • Nothing! All materials are included.

What to wear

Comfortable clothing. Steel capped boots are recommended.

Appropriate for

From Beginners to advances

The Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking was founded by Alastair Boell in 2007. After graduating from the world renowned North Bennet Street School, Boston (USA) Alastair felt that there was a great need in Australia for an educational facility that focuses on traditional skills.

The Guild is committed to preserving and advancing craft traditions in furniture making. We are also committed to promoting a greater awareness and appreciation ofcraftsmanship. In our classes we emphasize the skillful use of hand tools and power equipment and an informed use of appropriate materials. We are passionate about what we do and want to share information, ideas and skills with all our students young and old, from beginner to advanced.

The Guild offers 13 Open Courses a week where students are able to bring in their own projects. Also during the year on a regular basis we offer a number of short intensive classes on varying woodworking topics. Our student to teacher ratios are very low with a maximum of 8 students in the open classes.

The school itself is conveniently located two minutes from the Blackburn Rd exit off the Eastern Freeway. Parking is readily available right at the school’s door.We promise to do our very best to provide you with endless opportunities in a stimulating and supportive community.

We invite you to take your place at the Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking.

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Refund Policy

Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking requires 1 month's notice via email prior to the start of a class or event for a full refund or transfer.  

Refunds and transfers will not be processed if cancellation occurs within 1 month of the event commencing, unless we are able to replace the booking. We do not offer refunds for missed classes. There are no fees for refunds or transfers. For cancellations prior to the 1 month cut off, email Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking to organise a refund or transfer

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Terms & Conditions

Anyone partaking in any classes or coming to any events at Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking or organised by Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking must agree to these terms and conditions.


I agree to take on full responsibility for any damages, injuries and for physical and/or personal property, which I might incur whilst participating in classes and/or events organised by Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking.


I agree to give Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking unrestricted publishing rights for any photographs or videos taken at Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking classes and events or on Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking's premises. (For use of Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking marketing materials).


Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking requires 48 hours notice in writing prior to the class for a full refund or transfer. 


In the event that a class is cancelled, students will be notified via text message or email and entitled to a full refund or credit.

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