Wednesday, January 11, 2012


The chair is finally in the house!

Soon after I finished the dining table, I wrote that I'd start building chairs.  That was in mid-November.  By the second week of December, I wrote how the chairs were proving to be difficult.

Tonight, chair #001 came in doors.
The difficulty in making chairs is that you will have at least some angled cuts.  A char that has four straight posts for legs and a flat seat will likely be uncomfortable.  The chair I ended up building was a hybrid of project plans on (here and here).

The back of the chair frame is made of two 2x4s that I cut with some curvature.  This makes the chairs look more professional and more inviting to sit on.  The difficulty I had at first was trying to cut a curved shape with a circular saw.  It just wasn't possible.

After a few wasted 2x4s, Pamela convinced me to buy a jig saw, which ended up being a great buy.  I've used it on holiday crafts and other home projects.  Having the right tools doesn't ensure a great outcome though.

I struggled to free hand the curved parts of the chair frame.  The end result is that this chair I've completed will likely be one-of-a-kind.  I think for the next chair, I'll use a short piece of 2x2 and trace the shape onto the 2x4 by sliding the 2x2 along.  I'm guessing if you were to really get into chair production, you'd produce a model to use over and over.

The next real headache was very unexpected - as I was assembling the frame together, I ran out of room to maneuver while screwing the pieces together.  The Kreg Jig drills angled holes and you are given a 6" square-headed driver for your power drill.  Well, the 6" driver plus the length of my drill meant I couldn't get inside parts of the frame to screw it together.  I ended up using a ratchet and an adapter to connect the driver to the ratchet.  "Screwing" the pieces together with the ratchet was not fun.  Later, I found a 3" driver at Home Depot that worked better.

Now, this all happened in the week or so following Thanksgiving.  The momentum really died after that.  My plan was to take a 2x8 or 2x8 and cut/sand a curve into the face to create a seat back.  I tried and tried, but failed.  There just wasn't a way that I could create what I was picturing and have it look even half decent.  My guess is that better woodworkers steam and bend boards for seat backs, as opposed to the cut/sand method.

So, with my tail between my legs, I didn't go out to the garage much for a while.

One day it really hit me - the chair would never get finished if I wasn't willing to compromise.  Also, Pamela had mentioned a few chairs she saw at stores that she liked, so I knew the clock was ticking.

I decided to attach to 2x2s across the back as supports.  In the end, I'm actually pretty pleased with how they look and feel.  Since the frame angles backwards, it isn't uncomfortable at all.
Getting there
With the frame all together, I gave it a final sanding then stained it to match the table.

Lastly, Pamela and I went to Jo Ann's where I bought some 1" high density foam which is aimed at seating applications.  The cushion size almost exactly fit my frame.  Pamela gave me some fabric she had purchased before, and viola! the chair was done.

Well, I had trouble fixing the seat+cushion to the frame because I didn't drill my pocket holes correctly and I didn't have the right kind of screw.  The screws came in the mail today.

Like I said, Chair #001 may be a one and only.  Depending upon how many chairs I want to build to sit around the table (probably two or four with a long bench on the other side), I'll look to improve my process and make matching chairs the next time around.

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