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Recycled Office Chair "One Mans Junk" | Scrap Pile Project

Here is my inspiration. 
 We have had this office chair kicking around for years. 

 It is still very comfortable and the proportions are great even though it is in very rough shape.

And here is the junk . . . the bottom off a modern office chair that I salvaged from someone’s garbage about two years ago.

The plan . . . to replicate to the best of my abilities my inspiration and mate it to the junk. I plan to use poplar and no adhesives. I will not be staining the chair, however I may paint it if I can find a zero VOC paint.
As I work through the project I invite suggestions to “tweak” the chair just ever so slightly . . . just keep in mind that I will not be using any adhesives or stains.

Let the journey begin...

I went to the local lumber yard to get some 8/4 poplar. I found a nice board that was 12” wide and had them cut off 36” . . . that made 6bf @ $3.25 bf = $19.50.

I then spent some time examining my inspiration. The seat is actually 1” thick made from several t&g boards. I opted to go with pocket screwing the boards together. Here is the blank.

I also dressed by 8/4 blank that I will use for the arms and back of the chair.

I then dug out some cardboard to make templates for the seat, arms and back of the chair.

I was a little later getting out in the shop today as an unexpected errand popped up.
The first thing I did was trace out the patterns on the wood. You can see the seat and the arm pieces sketched out on poplar.

I then checked the thickness of the arm pieces . . . I needed 1 5/8” and they were a tad over 1 ¾”. The back pieces of the chair were also 1 ¾ and had to be taken down to 1 1/8”. I dragged out the planer and a few passes later they were in spec.

Next it was off to the bandsaw. I did some practicing on scrap to get a feel for how the machine works and then it was off to the races. Betsy . . . I did cut reliefs after I took these two pictures. I cut reliefs in all the other pieces which made it much easier to cut. When I was done I had about 100 little bits on lumber on the floor.

Oh . . . this was the garb I was wearing when working with the BS.

Here are the final pieces. A little bit rough in spots, but a little sanding should smooth everything right out.

WARNING . . . even though bandsaws are probably one of safest power tools in the shop, they can still inflict damage. Whenever I used power tools I wear the tight fitting mechanic’s gloves. I was thankful I was wearing them today. I was getting close to finishing and I was a little tired and not paying the correct amount of attention and this is what happened to my glove. It just nicked my finger. LESSON . . . be careful around all power tools.

Here is my shop companion for the day . . . his name is Chicklet.

I hate sanding.
Have I mentioned that I hate sanding. If I have not . . . I hate sanding.
I left off the previous section with the pieces all cut with the bandsaw in need of sanding. Have I mentioned I hate sanding. Here are what the pieces look like up close.

I recently purchased a drum sander kit for my drill press for $28 . . . I think it is a good deal. I was hoping to use it exclusively for sanding these items, however when I carpet taped the matching pieces together they were to thick for the largest drum. Arggggg !

Yes my drill press has found another use . . . a hat rack.
I broke out the DeWalt random orbit sander, my workmate and shop vac. I clamped the hose of the vac to the underneath of the workmate to catch wayward dust, donned my hearing protection and dust mask and started with the 60 grit to get rid of the nasties.
What seemed like hours later . . . I was done. I did have to use my drum sander for the inside arc of the arm . . . boy did it work fast.
Here is what I was left with before I went in for the evening.

Next I think I will be tackling the skirting underneath the seat and\or the scooping out of the chair.
Oh . . . did I mention I hate sanding.

I decided to attack the scooping of the seat. I had some concerns when Betsy reminded me about the pocket screws. The first thing I did was to determine how much, if any, room I had to scoop. Using a scrap piece of board and a freshly drilled pocket hole I estimated I had around 1/8 “ to play with. Great . . . now how do I scoop. Hmmmm.

After I sketched the scooping on the seat I took out my Mastercraft (Canadian Tire store brand) plunge router and ½ straight bit. I set the plunge for 1/16” and tested it in a piece of scrap. It was good to go. I popped a couple of homemade bench dogs in my bench, clamped the seat down and fired up the router. I must say the dust extraction port hooked up to my shop vac really cut down on the dust. This is what it looked like after I got done with the roughing out.

I used my RO sander to knock down the edges . . . and they I took Russel’s advice. I put the sander away and dug out some sheet paper. I spent the next little while going through the grits smoothing down the edges and taking out the rough spots. I must say it was much more . . . personal . . . I got to know the seat much more intimately just using hand power.
This is about ½ way through the sanding.

I’m pretty much done here although I need to spend a little more time on the fnishing touches. You can see the scoop in the seat.

At this point in time just about every woodworking tool I have is spread around the shop. I'm going to need to spend some time putting some things away.

I find it quite neat with woodworking that after hours toiling with chunks of wood, crafting them into miscellaneous shaped pieces that they all fir together (relatively well we hope) to resemble a final product. Today I worked on the Front Rail, Back Rail, Back Posts, Back Stretchers and seat.
I first went upstairs to take some measurements off the model. I then made the Front Rail and Back Rail (which I attached to the Back Posts).

I then proceeded to notch the back to the seat for the Back Posts and did a simple test fit. Sort of looks like a chair doesn’t it.

Then I worked on the Back Stretchers. I have test fitted them as well. Getting the curve was a little challenging – do you know how I did it?

Time to attach the Back Stretchers. Firstly I had to do some marking on the inside of the Back Posts so I would get a good idea on where to drill the recessed holes for the screws. I drilled pilot holes from the inside out and used those holes to guide the bit for the recessed screws.

Here I am at the DP. I actually managed to take this picture myself using the timer function. Yea . . . I know . . . all cameras have timers, however I did not realize there was one on mine. Why read instructions on something if there is no possibility of bodily harm? Anyhoo . . . this was the third take. The first was one caught me walking back to the camera thinking “did I set the thing correctly”. The second one caught a picture of my skinny butt bending over to pick up the chuck that I dropped on the floor. And the third . . . well here it is.

This is the final product of the Back Stretchers attached to the Back Posts.

This is how I got the bend in the stretchers. Last year I purchased 200bf of 15/16 poplar and there was one piece that was 16” wide. I said wow . . . make sure that I get that one. Within 2 weeks of having it in my shop it developed this “nice” curve. What better to use it for than a chair.
I attached the back to the seat of the chair.

This is what it looks like when everything underneath is attached – front, back and side stretchers.

Next on the list is the arms. I placed them up against the chair to see what it will look like.

I then cut the end of both arms to match with the uprights. The next step is to remove the area that I have marked in red. The area to be removed would taper into the front curve.
I’m debating a 45 degree router bit, make a jig for the bandsaw or use a spokesheve.

I decided on using the BS as it tilts to 45 to taper the arms.

Next I had to notch out the arms so they would fit over the seat and make a couple of spacers to go between the arm and side stretchers.

Arms installed.

Here is the chair ready for final sanding and touch-ups.

A mess of plugs to fill the screw holes.

The base that will attach to the seat. This is the “junk” piece of the project.
My main task was to plug all the holes where I used screws . . . not the pocket screws as they are all hidden.
I popped the fence on the BS and lined everything up. This is the first time I used the fence . . . its 4” high and came standard with the saw. I like it.

After I ran the plugs through I was left with this.

Instead of using any type of wood glue to hold the plugs I use a secret formula . . . here it is. And its not some weird type of blueberry jam . . . it’s the clear liquid in the bottom. However the liquid is edible and its primary use is in the food industry. Can you guess what it is?

And here is the chair all plugged up. I dipped each plug in the “secret formula” and tapped them in each hole with a small hammer. The formula should dry in about an hour or so and will hold the plugs tight. Oh . . . when looking at the picture I realized that I missed one screw hole. Darn !!!

Next step is cut them all flush, sanding, clean the base and connect it with the chair.

Im getting close to the final product.
Here I am flush cutting the plugs. They are still a little proud, but sanding will take care of that.

I decided to spare you by not including pictures of me sanding. I just have one word – dusty.
Here it the base that will be attached to the chair.

I had a piece of spruce that was kicking around the shop for some time. This was the perfect opportunity to put it to use as the “adaptor plate” for the base and chair. It was a little long so I used the TS to trim it up.

Test fit of the block that will attach the base to the chair.

After a quick trip to the local hardware store and some careful measuring I have it completed. My . . . I mean DW’s . . . new office chair. I hope you enjoyed my blog . . . thanks for reading.

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