late to the party here, have read 80% of all of the responses....
i agree that i dont get why you are using wood, other than wood is used in eames lounge chair so that = validity.
for the designs you are looking at you can use leather to give 90% the same look and its probably a better material for what you want.
leather can be very thick, dried and formed, also laminated to do the things you are trying to do with wood and im guessing the process might be easier? look at a brooks leather saddle, or even just a real horse saddle... leather is a beautiful material and can be worked to do many types of things