An Old Chair, Revisited

About a year ago, my husband found this chair abandoned in an alley and did what any chair hoarder’s collector’s spouse would do and brought it home for me. He’s a keeper, that husband of mine.


After that, it sat. And sat. And sat. Until I finally decided to get to work on it. Since the wicker seat was broken, removing it was the first line of business. I used a box cutter and started chipping away.

Once the wicker seat was removed, I began sanding the chair. Sanding, by the way, is the bane of my existence. I’m not good with nooks and crannies, and there are a lot of them in this chair. I did my best but didn’t worry about it being perfect.

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Then the chair was just a skeleton and that posed one problem: there was no place to sit. Pretty important, don’t you think? To solve this problem, with my Dad’s help, we traced the shape of the seat on to a piece of plywood and cut it out of the wood. This left us with another problem: plywood doesn’t come bent to the curve of a seat.

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To bend the plywood into a seat shape, I soaked the wood for hours in the bathtub. From there I placed it on top of the chair, clamped it down in the front and stacked as many bricks as I could on top of the seat (which ended up being 20 or so, like Jenga – brick edition!). I left it until the wood dried through and then removed the bricks. The first time didn’t do the trick so I repeated the process by soaking the plywood (for longer this time) and stacking bricks on top of the seat.

Eventually I was left with a decent dip in the wood, appropriate for a chair.

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This is how the chair stands today, waiting to be finished. I was originally planning on staining all of the wood and upholstering the seat in a nice, durable fabric but the staining just scares me. Another solution would be to paint the main chair body, but stain the middle strip of bentwood.

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The final decision really all depends on where I will use it. Since it will most likely be a multipurpose chair (desk chair during the day, dining chair when hosting family and friends), I’d like it to be cohesive with my other dining chairs. However, I have no plans for those either. Not until I narrow down a replacement dining table.

So for now it sits, collecting dust and waiting for it’s life to move on. What are your opinions?

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  1. Sarah says: Reply

    That chair has a great skeleton, so whatever you decide to do will be gorgeous!

  2. It does, doesn't it?! It almost makes the decision a little more difficult – I want to compliment the great shape.

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