Guest Appreciation: A Seat for Every Seat

64 Arts, Projects

With one foot still in carpentry we’re going to take a half-step towards the next art for this next project before fully immersing ourselves in

37 House Furnishings and Decorations

When we entertain it’s important that all of our guests have a spot—be it to stand or sit really depends on what type of gathering you’re having. As most of our get-togethers involve a meal or playing games (not of the sporty type), having seats for everyone becomes kind of important to the size of our gathering.

I’ve rented chairs for big parties, and happily do so since the cost is low and it saves us having to store them. We have a couple of folding chairs in the garage that we can bring out for the occasional extra keister or two, but they don’t sit as high as the rest of the dining room chairs, so it’s not the best solution for large family dinners.

Ergo, it’s time to make over my $3 chair.

My $3 side-of-the-road antique store chair.

My $3 side-of-the-road antique store chair.

I bought this chair from a little antique shop that’s no longer in business and, yes, paid a whopping $3 for it. The original plan was to clean it up (it still had a seat then) and use it as a spare chair in my sparsely furnished apartment. That didn’t happen, so it’s spent it’s life in multiple garages and storage rooms until the seat’s rotted out and it’s collected more cobwebs than I really want to think about.

So when I started stripping the antique school desk to refinish it, I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone, and save myself some grief.

Well, that’s not exactly how things worked.

After the first round of stripping and scouring, the chair didn't look that much different!

After the first round of stripping and scouring, the chair didn’t look that much different!

The first round of stripping and sanding barely made a dent in the paint and varnish combo on the chair, so then next weekend I tried again with a heavier stripping pad and even a scraper. I still only got partway through the finish and, by that point, I was so very over this process.

And I reminded myself it was only a $3 chair.

New plan! Screw the refinishing, let’s just paint the sucker. I started out with 2 coats of matte-finish spray paint in a dark brown as an undercoat.

After 2 rounds of stripping and scraping and sanding and 2 coats of paint, it sorta looks like where we started. Not for long!

After 2 rounds of stripping and scraping and sanding and 2 coats of paint, it sorta looks like where we started. Not for long!

That’s where things are right now, since the weather isn’t exactly cooperating—it’s been either too cold or too wet to get any more painting done, plus I need Todd to cut a new seat for the chair and fashion new braces for the legs.

(The brace being the cross-piece between the front and back legs. One was missing when I bought the chair, and we were unable to find any turned braced the right size or length to match, so we’re going to sub in a round dowel rod with the ends cut to fit the existing holes, and go from there.)

The pieces for the rest of the makeover: 3/4" plywood and 2 " foam for the seat, and a 1-inch dowel for the braces.

The pieces for the rest of the makeover: 3/4″ plywood and 2 ” foam for the seat, and a 1-inch dowel for the braces.

Once the new seat and braces are cut, the entire chair will get a coat of a light blue paint and then I’ll distress the edges so that the brown underlayer shows through a bit (like this project from Crane Farms, but not quite as distressed). I thought about using a crackle medium, but didn’t want something quite so shabby chique as all that. Instead I’ll go for simple distressing for a nice aged look.

Then I’ll seal it to prevent more paint than I want from coming loose.

I’ve also picked up some thick foam to cushion the seat with. I’ll cut it to the needed size and shape, bevel the top edges so it’ll look prettier, and then cover the seat with some plush, dark-brown microsuede (I’ve got an entire bolt of the stuff from another project that went nowhere).

Theoretically this chair will match the triptych I painted for the living room (of our last house) that now hangs above our television. The chair probably won’t live in our current living room, but at least it’ll look nice when we bring it out for guests (though I keep starting at a particular corner wondering if I could make it fit with the desk.

This is a rough mock-up of how I see the chair ending up. We'll see how close reality is to idea.

This is a rough mock-up of how I see the chair ending up. We’ll see how close reality is to idea.

Obviously I’m not done with this project, but I want to stay on track with the blog schedule I laid down for myself, so next week we’ll be talking about another facet of home decorating. Once the chair project is done I’ll post that update on the nearest Thursday.

Cool? Cool.

#36 Carpentry | I Get Weak: Shoring Up a Slacking Leg

64 Arts

When you’ve been living with hand-me-down furniture and mismatched this and that, the first bits you buy yourself–even if they come from IKEA’s flat-pack heaven–can mean a lot. So it was that many years ago (at least 6–I don’t really feel like digging through my file boxes to find the receipts, so go with me on this one) I got my first glimpse at an IKEA and decided to snap up a table and chair set for my dining room at a really good price.

Jokkmokk table and chair set

image via

It survived the trip home from Atlanta, me putting it together all on my own (I also bought a spunky orange tool set on that trip–smart!), 2 moves and many parties. And after all of that it’s still going strong.

Well, all but one of the 4 chairs.

Broken chair leg


It was just before the holidays got into full swing when Todd leaned back in his chair to hear an unfortunate cracking sound. Thankfully he did not end up sprawled on the floor–the crack had formed along the back/leg right where it angled in to meet the seat. By the time the holidays were over the crack had gone clear through the wood and it was in need of some serious repair.

Now, with most chairs this one long piece would be separate bits and we could just replace the one board and be done with it. Not so much with this piece, so we did the next best thing:

Gorilla Wood Glue

Our glue of choice, hoping the super-tough hold does

Half of having furniture–wooden or otherwise–is taking care of it when (or before) it breaks. To heal busted wood you need two things.

  1. Something to knit the fibers back together.
  2. Pressure to hold the fibers in place until such time as they’re strong again.

Basically, we’re wood doctors healing a broken bone. Instead of a plaster cast, though, we opted to use something a little different.

First we thought regular clamps would do, but the split was in a more-than-awkward spot for such a fix. Then Todd was going to use something called a pipe vise but we were short the needed pipe. What we did have was a strap usually used for tying down stuff in a trunk or truck-bed, it’s got a ratchet on it so can get very tight which is perfect for our needs.

Todd squeezing glue between the broken bits.

Todd squeezing glue between the broken bits.

First we put plenty of glue onto the break.

Tightening the ratchet strap to use as a vise.

Tightening the ratchet strap to use as a vise.

Then we secure it by tightening the strap as tight as possible to keep the glued pieces together.

Check the bottle of wood glue you’re using to see how long it’s supposed to take to dry and then leave it under pressure a little longer for safe keeping.

After that, if you want to reinforce the section with an extra screw into the wood above or below the break as insurance, it might not be a bad idea.

Ideally we would have caught it when it was just beginning to crack and fixed it then. Since we didn’t, we’ll take these steps and see what happens. Worst case scenario? I have a reason to go visit IKEA in Orlando.

At least it beats duck tape, right?