Monday, November 23, 2015

Wooden chairs with storage compartments

Not too long ago I made a very nice drawing/art table for my office.  I'd like to build a chair that matches the table - something better than the aluminum folding chair that I currently use.


I once made a chair using 2x4's - but that thing was rather heavy and far from comfortable.


Ana White's website has what looks to be a simple wood chair.


I'll use her chair as a guide for my own, changing a few little things here and there.  The biggest change is that the seat will lift up offering some extra storage.


I started by salvaging some scrap material I already had.


I made all the measurements for the cuts to be made.


After measuring and marking what I had, I went to the store and bought the other materials I needed.


Most of the cuts will be made using the miter saw.  I'm going to start off by cutting the wood needed for the 2 back legs.


The back legs will consist of 4 boards. 2 boards for each leg.


I marked the shape of the legs on one of the pieces of wood.


Then I cut out that piece with the jig saw.


I then applied glue to the 2 sets of legs...


...and clamped them to my work table to dry.


The above processes was actually my second attempt at making the chair legs.  My first attempt involved me gluing the pieces of wood together first, and then cutting.  This did not work out so well for me as my jigsaw blade was not long enough to cut through all that wood at once.  The result was a very uneven and jagged chair leg - which I wound up throwing on the scrap pile.


So, while the 2 sets of legs that did work out well dried, I decided to cut the other boards I needed.


Before long I had most of the boards cut.


The boards I glued earlier were still drying, so I decided to drill pocket holes in the boards that needed them.


The back legs still weren't ready when I finished drilling holes, so I began assembling what I could with pocket screws...


...but without the back legs I couldn't go very far.


So I did some chores for a while and then came back to the back legs.  When they were dry I clamped the 2 legs together...


...and I used my planer and belt sander...


...to get them both to be the same shape.


With that finally done, I continued assembling the chair with pocket screws.


I also made sure to use my clamps specific for pocket holes to aid in assembly.


Before long I had all the legs on, the frames and the supports...


...and then the back.


So far so good!


Next I started cutting a large sheet of plywood for the top and bottom of the seat.


The making of the top was the easy part.


...the bottom was a slightly different shape than the top, and required notches on each side...


...so it could fit around the legs.


After a little trimming, I drilled holes and screwed the bottom to the chair.


There won't be an abundance of storage in this chair, but I can keep a few pencils or some stencils inside.


The top was simply attached to the chair with some hinges.


So now the seat can open...


...and close.


Although not really necessary, I cut a few pieces of wood at 45 degree angles...


...and glued them to the bottom and sides.  Since there is a bottom screwed to the seat frame, the angles don't really do much.


Once those corner pieces dried I began sanding the whole chair.


While I was sanding I noticed a few things I forgot to do.  The first being to fill all the pocket holes with plugs.


The other thing I forgot was that the bottom of the chair wasn't completely flush with the side.  So I used some home-made shims and glued/nailed them in place.  Once the glue dries I can sand everything to be flush.


I also added a little wood filler here and there before I called it a night.


The next day I went back to sanding.


 I used my belt sander to sand down the plugs...


...and shims.


Then I used my mouse sander with some medium grit sandpaper to sand the areas that had wood filler.  I also sanded all the edges and rough areas with this sander.


Then I used my palm sander with fine sandpaper to make all the surfaces smooth.


Next I cleaned it up...


...and prepped for staining.


Since the chair will be for my art table, I'll be staining it the same color.  I started with the inside of the chair...


...then all the tops and sides...


...and ending with the bottom. 


Once the stain had dried I began applying some clear coat spray on the inside and bottom.


I used clear coat for the insides since it would be hard to neatly get those areas with a paint brush and polyurethane.  But once those areas were dry I stood the chair upright and applied polyurethane to the rest.


As always polyurethane take several hours to dry.  Each time it was dry I sanded with a fine sanding sponge, cleaned it up and then applied another layer of polyurethane.  After several layers this chair was smooth and shiny.


Next I was going to put some felt bumpers underneath the lid, but they raised the height of the seat too much for my liking, so I didn't bother with them.


After a final sanding and cleaning I was done!


Then I brought it to it's new home at the drawing table.


This thing matches my desk almost perfectly.  The color is the same, but the seat is glossy, whereas the table is matte.


Inside the seat I put some boxes with my chalk and color  pencils as well as some pastels.


To give you an idea how large the seat is, below is a blue cushion I had on the folding chair I was using.


Now here is the same cushion on my new chair.  The seat is very large, but that's quite all right.  It feels good to sit on.


I found some leftover 2x2 seat cushion foam I had which almost fits the seat.  I think in the future I may attempt making a seat cushion for this chair.


The chair also fits nicely under the table.  Also when I sit on the chair at the table my legs don't hit the bottom of the desk.



This was a fun build.  It took me a total of 3 days to make and I really like it.


But remember that first chair leg I tried to make?  I decided to try and fix it up.


Using my jigsaw was not overly helpful.  As I mentioned earlier, the blade is too short for the thickness of this wood.  So I went about correcting the shape using primarily my block plane.  This took a very long time, but eventually I got the shape right.


I smoothed the leg with my belt sander...


...and then traced the shape of that leg onto the second set of glued boards.


Then I started the tedious process again, cutting what I can with the jigsaw...


...and then fixing all the bad cuts with the block plane.


Once the 2 shapes were close, I clamped both legs together and began sanding everything.


Until finally I had 2 identical legs.


I'm also going to use some leftover wood I have to make the rest of this chair.  Namely I'm using leftover wood from my old futon.


I cut all the pieces to size at the miter saw...


...and I trimmed off the brown paint with my table top planer.


Putting the frame of the chair together was the same as before.


For the top/seat of the chair I'll have to go out and buy a new sheet of wood.  But for the bottom of the chair I connected 3 pieces of leftover plywood and screwed it to the bottom of the frame.


And with the new piece bought, trimmed and attached I have a second storage chair!


Next came all the sanding, filling, and sanding followed by staining...


...and polyurethane.


And I'm done!


Both chairs came out pretty well, and are both slightly different.  The second chair's seat used a different type of plywood giving it a different look.  The back rest of the second chair also uses smaller pieces of wood.


For the chair in my office I decided to store my clamps which I use often for my various projects.


The second chair actually wound up in my workshop, and it's a great place to store all my brushes.


Now I'll have to make some seat cushions.  But that's a task for another day.


A few weeks later I made one little revision, which was to add a small handle to the front of the chair.  This handle made it easier to move the chair closer to my work table when I was practically sitting on it.  Since the bottom of the chair has no leverage, the handle is super useful.  


Thanks for reading!

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