Hey sports fans. I am VERY excited to introduce you to a new member of the Sawdust 2 Stitches team! April is an amazing blogger and talented diy’er, and lucky for us, you will be seeing more of here around here!
WELCOME April, and take it away….
Hi, I’m April from Uncookie Cutter. I am so excited to be contributing here at Sawdust 2 Stitches. Corey has been an idol of mine for awhile, so getting to work with her is a treat. I’m here to share my modern dining chair upcycle.
A little about me…In January of this year, my husband and I packed up our two kids and three dogs and moved from Virginia to small town Oklahoma. I told my Realtor I wanted a new house in a new neighborhood. As it turned out, we couldn’t find one that we really feel in love with–there always seemed to be something missing. Then, on a whim, our Realtor showed us what she described as a very “UncookieCutter” house and after a million inspections and with a bit of fear, we decided to go for it. We loved the layout, the huge yard and the fact that we could all bike right down the road to the elementary school. However, it needed a lot of work, so I started UncookieCutter to document our journey here trying to make this house a home.
For the past couple of months I’ve been working in the dining room. I upcycled an old piece of wood into a hanging shelf and then built my concrete top table, inspired by Restoration Hardware. Everything was going so well until I realized how expensive dining chairs were. I have never bought a traditional dining set, we’ve been eating off of a cheap 4 person set for years. We could never have people over for dinner, because we had nowhere to sit. The size of our dining room won’t allow for much more than a 8 person table, so that’s what I built. I needed six side chairs. I wanted them to not have fabric (remember the kids and dogs I mentioned?) and I wanted them to look a little modern, funky and fit with a table with a concrete top. So I searched and found THESE chairs, which I thought were beautiful.
However, these chairs cost $168 a piece. That would’ve cost me over $1,000 plus the cost of the end chairs. I floated this by my husband, who just laughed. Rude. Anyway, I had to come up with another idea.
So I honestly thought about making chairs, but a good chair has a slight backwards lean to it and unfortunately I don’t have the saw to make cuts like that. So, I needed to find some old chairs with solid bases and, low and behold, after a LOT of searching, I found some! I couldn’t believe it, but a library was closing in a nearby, even smaller, town and I grabbed one to bring home and see what I could do with it. I turned it into a chair that was similar to the one I wanted, but actually fit in the space better and cost about $20 per chair, making it $120 for six. Score!
The fabric was in pretty bad shape, but the frame seemed strong, so I got to work ripping the fabric off.
Once I had all the fabric off and removed all the zillion or so staples, I sanded the whole frame down and filled the staple holes with stain-able and sand-able wood filler. Then more sanding until they were all smooth.
Next, I had to make the seat for the chair. I took some craft paper and made a rough template a little bigger than I wanted it.
I cut one board template with my circular saw and used that template to cut out the rest, but left a little extra to allow for slight changes from chair to chair.
Like I said, I cut the boards too big on purpose, but worked with my jigsaw until they fit right into the back of the chair, then I traced each board so that I could cut the seat to match up to the frame exactly.
I bought some very pretty “craft board” in the lumber section, but I think any plywood would work. This was made from real wood and I love the grain it shows. Now I had to figure out how to make the top piece for the chair back. Most chairs have a curved back to make them a little more comfortable. Like I mentioned before, I don’t have too many fancy power tools, but I still wanted to bend the back a little bit. My father in law was visiting as I was trying to figure it out, and he told me about a presentation he once saw where they soaked the boards in water and then bent them, so I decided to give that a shot.
Yes, I realized I should not leave my jig in water, I moved it and replaced it with a flower pot, but forgot to take a picture of that :). I left it soaking in the water for a day or more. Then I took it out and “molded” it to the top of the chairs with clamps.
Once I got it just so, I let it sit out in the sun until it was completely dry.
I learned a couple of things trying to “bend” wood. First, it has to be soaked all the way through or it will crack. This will take at least a day for this size board. Next, you have to let it dry in the mold completely or it will loose it’s shape when you take it off to stain. And lastly, if you look at the pic above, I should have tried to make the grain of the board run horizontal instead of vertical. I did it this way because I wanted to use every piece of the board, and it worked, but I did crack a couple and I think they would not have cracked had I gone the other way with it.
Once it was nice and dry I went ahead and popped it off to be painted.
Now that the chairs were stripped, filled and sanded and both of the seats and backboards were cut out and “molded” I was ready to paint. I wanted the chair part to look like metal, and I’ve always been impressed with Rustoleum Metallic spray paints, but since I had six chairs and a small budget, I decided to stain them with some leftover stain and then spray paint them. So I started by staining them with Minwax Ebony.
Then I spray painted them all with Rustoleum Flat Iron. I then put a couple of coats of spray poly on.
Next, I painted the seats and backs with one light coat of Minwax Special walnut to start
When the stain was all dry, I mixed a small mixture of leftover white trim paint with water (about 50/50 mix) and used a paper towel to lightly rub it over and blend it in. Then 3 coats of polyurethane.
It worked better to finish the back of the backboard piece and leave the front unfinished for now. Then I re-clamped it onto the chair, and then countersunk some screws into the board and attached it to the chair.
I waited to finish it so that I could sand down the holes without messing up the stain. Once it was attached, I went ahead and finished the front side.
The last thing I did before bringing them in was I glued the seats to the chairs.
Once they were inside, I added these feet. I tried a couple of different furniture feet and these were the only ones that slid nicely, didn’t fall off and didn’t scratch my floors.
Now they really were done! I got them all set up with my table, which you can see all the details on that HERE.
So, instead of spending over a grand, I spent about $120 on boards, stain and spray paint to upcycle these old chairs.
That was it! And they are actually pretty comfortable. I’d love for you to visit me over on UncookieCutter or follow me on social media. A big, huge thank you to Corey for asking me to guest host and I’ll be back soon for some more!
April – Uncookie Cutter