Thursday, April 21, 2016

Dining Chair - Part 12 - Completion

Monday was a good day.  After not getting much done last week, it was great getting back to the shop.  I started off using steel wool to knock down the shellac finish on the second of the three chairs in progress and then waxed and polished it.
Love that shine
The steel wool creates so much steel dust, but I do like the feel of the chair better than after using sandpaper.

Next it was on to the seats.  I cut up the plywood and got it to fit in the space with about 1/16" clearance all around.
A nice fit
I used a crosscut handsaw to cut the plywood and that left ugly break-out on the back side.  But I knew I was going to round over the back edges to about 1/4" lines, so I didn't worry about it.
Starting the round-over
 The top edges were also rounded slightly.  I did  a test fit with the fabric in the seat space to make sure it would fit after upholstering, and that was a nice snug fit.  Then I bored the holes for air relief.
Holes bored for air escape
I love using the brace and bits.  These are 3/4" holes and the bit goes through the plywood like a hot knife through butter (OK, maybe refrigerated butter, but still ...).

Next up was the foam material.  I cut that to shape using the plywood as a guide.
Two inch thick foam
On the upper surface, I created a chamfer about 1".  Marked it out using a sharpie ...
Chamfer marked out
... and cut it using our kitchen knife (I got a "look" from the wife), which I had sharpened up on the diamond plates and oiled with the oil-soaked-rag-in-a-can.
It really helped to oil the knife blade
And here's how they look with the foam in place.  Things are really starting to take shape.
Chairs with foam
With these things taken care of , it was time for the upholstery.  When Karene got home, we laid out the fabric and marked out the seats with masking tape.
Three of four marked out
I had made the original chair last fall and used vinyl for the upholstery.  We decided to go with a different look, so that chair will get reupholstered.

I learned a little about sewing terminology and technique recently.  I was concerned about the fabric fraying after I cut it.  The lady at the fabric store said to use "pinking shears" to minimize fraying and fortunately my wife has a pair.
Pinking shears
My mother always had these (she used to make lots of her own clothes) and I thought they were just decorative.  Little did I know.  These worked great and the cutting began.
Zig-zag cutting pattern
Didn't get much done Tuesday, but Wednesday I got all the upholstering done.  I used the "Sellers" compression jig to press the plywood over the foam and fabric.  The jig is as long as my bench is deep, so I can clamp directly to the underside of the benchtop.
Compression jig in action
This really works great.  I clamped the jig until the 2" foam was compressed to about 7/8".  This will give nice tight upholstery when all is done.
Compressed foam
Stapling the fabric to the plywood is fairly straight forward until you get to the corners.  Sellers shows how to cut away some of the fabric and fold it to get a nice tight corner.
Corner #1 half done
It can be challenging to get the corners right, but with just a small amount of practice, it gets better.
Corner #4 complete and upholstery done
I'm using some staples that came with my old house - really - found them there.  These things are at lest 20 years old and probably a lot older.
I'm mumbling: "It's a Swingline.  It's my stapler."  (reference to Milton in "Office Space")

This box just barely lasted through this project, but just in case I got some more.  The new ones look a little different (cheaper), but fortunately the old ones lasted with just a few to spare.  Curious to see if the new ones were bogus, I tried out them out and they fit my stapler just fine and seemed to work good, too.
Bought this ~15 years ago for reupholstering chairs of an old dining table
Well, this project has finally come to an end.  I brought the chairs in and fit them at the table.
Out with the old ...
... and in with the new
Another view
And another
This project has taken over three months!  Damn I'm slow!  But getting faster and more confident with each project.  Thanks for reading.


  1. Sweet looking set. I am still very much amazed at how well you got the DF to behave. Double triple Kudos.
    BTW my mother was dress maker - those are called pinking shears and they are used to cut the fabric to rough size.

    1. Thanks, Ralph. I didn't pay any attention to my mother's sewing, but fortunately she taught me a little about baking and cooking. She could do it all in terms of family chores.

  2. GREAT job and your chairs look fantastic! I made 6 of these chairs, actually 7 if you count my prototype a few months ago. Four side chairs and two arm chairs all in cherry. They compliment the cherry Trestle Table I made last October (Norm Abram plans). Keep up the good work and documenting your progress. Terry

    1. Terry, thanks so much for the comment. I'm very interested in how you added arms to this design. Would love to see them if there are pics accessible on the internet.

    2. You can view a picture on Paul Sellers Woodworking Masterclasses website in the Dining Chair gallery. The chairs are around the trestle table.

    3. Oh, I've seen those before posted by "Yehyeh". Very cool dining set! Didn't recognize your "real" name.

    4. Yehyeh is Chinese for grandfather. My wife is Chinese so she wants my grandchildren to learn a little Chinese. Did I read somewhere that you are planning on making the Paul Sellers workbench? I'm thinking about building that myself. Some nice pics in the gallery.

    5. I went with a different bench design when I built mine last fall. It borrows a bit from Sellers design in the legs and bearers, but has no aprons and no tool well. I researched quite a bit from Scott Landis' "The Workbench Book". I've no doubt that Paul's design would be great, but I don't like the idea of a tool well and the aprons make it hard to get at planes stored under the benchtop. Good luck to you if you build one.

    6. Would you mind telling me the make/model/size of the vise you installed on your workbench. Yeah, I'm not a big fan of those big aprons either, but if I do build that design, I'm sure it will be "modified". Read on your profile your in NorCal. I live near Patterson, Ca..

    7. Terry, my front vise is item #10G0413, the 10-1/2" Quick Release Vise from Lee Valley. My benchtop is 3 1/8" thick and I had to add a packing under the top so the front of the vise wouldn't stick up above the top. It has an unusual QR mechanism and takes some time to get used to, but so far it works fine. I've been using it for about 5 months.

      I'm over in Mountain View. If either of us are in the other's area, it'd be great to talk shop.

  3. These are awesome Matt! Great work all they way through.

    1. Thanks a lot, Greg. Now if I can just get some of my own "flair" into projects like you do. That'll come in time ...

    2. "Flair" is one way of describing my "decorative" embellishments. The first step towards developing your own flair is that you must be completely willing to risk destroying the piece that you just made. LOL.

      By the way...the wavy slats are a nice bit of flair in these chairs.

  4. NICE!!
    I'm guessing you built the table also?
    Really like the idea of selecting an area of the fabric, haven't thought of that, brilliant!


    1. Bob, the table was my wife's before we got together. But a new table is probably going to get on the list after a few other things.

  5. Hi Matt,
    really well done. The chairs are looking great. I still like the wavy backrest.
    I'm often complaining about having not more time and being slow. But on the other hand maybe it leeds to being more precise or to work properly.

    1. I agree, Stefan. I feel like I'm getting faster and better as I go along.