Being deeply attracted to the aesthetics of the claw foot bathtub couch, but a bit shy about the thousand plus dollar price tag to buy one of these retail, I decided to build one on my own.  The process was exploratory and based largely on trial and error since there's not great documentation on how to cut cast iron or refinish a bathtub on your own.  With that in mind, this Instructable outlines the process in 34 detailed steps so that folks can get an idea of what techniques work and which ones don't should they attempt to repurpose an antique tub for modern furniture purposes themsleves.

All in all I'd say the project takes "much longer than a weekend" to complete, and is best done with the help of another person - if only just to move the several hundred pound bathtub from place to place.  However, once done, you'll have a one of a kind piece of furniture that really speaks for itself.  Having made it, instead of bought it, will really speak to your abilities as as a creator of things, and that's cool too if you're into that sort of thing.

Step 1: This Idea Is Not New

Let me start by saying that this idea is not new.  First shown in 1961 in Holly Golightly's apartment in the film "Breakfast at Tiffany's", it was then re-created by Jared and Jill Morrison of Ruff House Art for Phillip Morris of all folks a few years ago.  This was followed by a New York Times article covering the concept of a claw foot bath tub couch (when I first got turned on to the idea) which then prompted several bespoke retailers to try and recreate the work.  

There is currently a reproduced DIY version on a french blog, however it provides zero instruction, and takes a slightly different design approach by using an elevated seat.  There's also a retailer on Etsy called Redux Tubs out of Canada who is selling the couch from $1,100 and up.  Finally, my co-worker Carley has also wanted to build a bathtub couch for some time.

I think I am merely riding the groundswell of claw foot bathtub couch interest, as we all our - I simply have taken the time to document the process so that we may have the opportunity to make bathtub couches while hopefully learning a bit from my mistakes.  I in no way take credit for this idea.

History accurate as of publish date September, 2012.
Did you have any issues with the tub being back heavy after it was cut? Ours wants to tip backwards now that the front section has been cut out and all that weight has been removed.
Did you have any issues with the tub being back heavy after it was cut? Ours wants to tip backwards now that the front section has been cut out and all that weight has been removed.
<p>Great instructable! I made one, too - it's a little different.</p>
<p>The wife thought the one in the 'ible was OK. Then she saw this one! It appears I am now looking for an old bath.</p>
<p>Thank you. The original idea was not mine :)</p><p>For cutting, instead of a circular saw, I would recommend using a regular grinder with a very thin cutting wheels (~0.045 in). It is easier to control. </p>
<p>But... Is it really that comfortable?</p>
<p>haha this is the most clever piece a furniture I have seen in a long time!</p>
<p>I made a Bathtub turned Loveseat for my girlfriend Shannon since she's a huge Audry Hepburn (and Breakfast at Tiffany's) fan. She was so happy with hers I decided to make an Etsy page for them, The Rustico Shop.</p><p>I also made a facebook page detailing the process I went through to make it : )</p><p>Let me know if you want any advice on making one of your own!</p><p>Facebook.com/RusticoShop</p><p>&mdash; Derek </p>
<p>Would it be easier to do this project with an acrylic tub? or do you think the dust would be more harmful, so I should still to an iron tub?</p>
<p>How would I cut the tub? </p>
<p>This is great! I'm about to refinish my claw foot (for bathing purposes) and am considering using the same interlux topside paint. My husband has some left over form our sailboat. Any thoughts on how the paint may hold up if it's used on the interior of the tub? Would occasional water exposure create any issues with this type of paint. Someone told me the &quot;pressure&quot; of the water against the tub wall creates problems with certain paints. Any thoughts? I know just enough about painting to be dangerous... Thanks for the post and any info! Great job!</p>
The Interlux paint is specifically made for boats - seems like water exposure would be just fine. Go for it and report back your findings to us!
and WHY has this not won any awards?
Amazing!!! Thank u for all the detail instructions! Would u be willing to make one and sell it for an affordable price? I know it will defeat the idea of making it but I would really love to use it as a prop for my daughters birthday party. If your interested please let me know. Thank you. cervantesmarisol@rocketmail.com
Well done! Looks like a bit of work but surely with all the effort. <br> <br>Good job.
Great for a home in the desert! nice cool tub sucking the heat out of your body,though. <br>not to comfortable for cool climates. Try laying in a cast iron tub without enough cushions covering the metal.Brr r that's cold!
Hi, great project. You might want to try using a powerfull jigsaw with a metal cutting blade, going nice and easy, on slow speed, It worked great cutting an old gas bottle to make wood burning stove. <br>David
Foam is indeed expensive. Try a Joann's Fabrics store with a 50% coupon (from their email newsletter) , that's how I get mine these days.
some shops give scraps away for free, i guess you can make foam-flakes from them (messy!) and fill a cushion with those, then it looks a bit puffier. <br>
That's a great tip - I will definitely check that out. Maybe that's the best way to take the plunge and buy a matte cutter as well? Thanks!
re. foam from couch left outside in the trash-DON'T use it! Bedbugs might exist-they are a major problem in North America now, and they get into everything! <br> <br>Your instructable is really really well done. Thanks :0)
Man of many talents; job well done. <br> <br>I wonder if it would be more efficient to cut the porcelain out and use a plasma cutter? If you were to make another one, I would find a friend that has one. Cuts that take 20 minutes on the bandsaw only take about 25 seconds with a plasma torch. <br>
You are totally right about this - we have a group here in town that casts iron a couple of times a year, and we use plasma cutters to trim sprues and clean up overlaps and mold defects. It is far simpler, to do than any kind of saw I can think of and like you mentioned literally lightning fast. That said, If i was going to use a saw, I think I would use a reciprocating saw instead of a circular saw and or grinder to make the cut.
worth the effort of a lot of hard graft <br>I think I might have saved the 'offcut' side and took that to the powder coaters to experiment with they may well have tryed several differant coatings free as they would be finding out what works
Nice work... you're such a crafty homemaker! :) <br> <br> <br>You left out the step that explains how to procure a hot chick to sit in it, though.
That's significantly a more complex and lengthy process then what can be covered in just&nbsp;<em>one step...</em><br /> <br /> Thanks for the compliment!&nbsp;
So I suppose one can't just order a half dozen from a local organic grocery store or anything, huh? <br> <br>Damn. Well, there go my decorating plans.... <br> <br> <br> <br> <br> <br>As for compliments, I don't give them out very often, but I'd consider doling them out like cheap parade candy if it'll keep you posting detailed instructables like this one that are relevant to my interests... instead of, say, guides depicting the art of making goofy fish faces in order to increase one's chances for procreation. I'm all for your new direction of more wood and less lip. ;) <br> <br>Now how about making an instructable on making a decent custom chuck so one can sand and polish wood rings on a lathe after the centers have been cut (and assuming there isn't just one fixed size)? It'd be helpful if it could also securely hold bent wood rings.
I made one goofy face Instructable five years ago and it still lingers even after making over a hundred others since then! :) <br /> <br />Regarding your decent custom chuck request, have you thought about getting a tapered dowel, putting some silicone high friction tape around it, sliding the ring down the taper until it sticks and just spinning the dowel in a hand drill, or lathe? Seems like that would work great for the outside of the wooden ring...as for the inside surface or bent wood ring, that's a bit harder to polish...I'll stew with the question though and see if anything comes to mind. I have a new shop of my own now, and seeds for even more and better shops are being sowed. Hopefully I'll be able to deliver more Instructables relevant to you interestes. <br /> <br />My hiatus from Instructables seemed to coincide perfectly with your increased presence on the site. Your Instructables are awesome and I'm sorry that I haven't had a chance to talk with you sooner! I particularly like your food sculpture ones - including the cheese board and grapefruit mouse pie. <br /> <br />What you are doing with repurposed fabric to make sculptural items is also spot on and very good. <br /> <br />It's a pleasure reading your Instructables and I really appreciate the time you've taken to document your work. You sound like you are a very busy person. If there's ever anything I can do to help or support you within this community please don't hesitate to let me know. I wish you and your family all the best, and thanks again for your comments.
Nothing ever dies on the internet... and if you're using the vague terminology &quot;goofy face,&quot; I'm sure many more of your instructables would qualify. ;)<br><br>The taper makes the ring unstable on one side, even with friction tape. Even when one is sanding carefully, the ring often wiggles loose and then flies away, sometimes breaking.<br><br>I've also tried using a rubber stopper with a bolt through the middle and a large washer on each side... the rubber stopper gets shorter and thicker as you tighten the nut on the bolt. That technique also has some... problems.<br><br><br>I've got a bunch more projects that I haven't posted instructables for, either due to time constraints or being unfinished. Lately I've had some problems getting some wiring to work with a vibration motor, a couple switches, and some UV LEDs. Once I sort through that mess, I'll have more soft sculptures to post (but the circuits are an integral part of it, so I'm not about to jump the gun just to post patterns for adorable but worthless felted wool stuffed animals). I probably won't post the felt lego organizer I made, because one of the corners is crooked. It's a nice solution to how LOUD legos are when you're sorting through them in a large plastic tub, though (in case you know anyone with sensory issues).<br><br><br>If you're interested in fabric sculpture, I'm still working on a zombie doll pattern (here are some early prototypes) http://www.flickr.com/photos/jocafa/7927660700/in/photostream The pattern itself is done (no pictures of the final shape), but I'm still working on the printable zombie illustration. I can send you the file once I finish, if you like...<br><br><br>but only if you enter my needle and thread contest.
It seems a shame to sand and paint such a strong, durable and beautiful finish as porcelain enamel. <br>It's why they were built that way, to be timeless looking and last forever. <br>Isn't that why you wanted the cast iron porcelain tub in the first place?
When you buy a used tub off of Craigslist the porcelain will likely be badly damaged and stained. I'm sure it's possible to use cleaners and polishers to restore the porcelain to it's full finish, but the tub I picked up was beyond that point and needed to be completely refinished. I agree, ideally the porcelain could be restored and there'd be no need for so much sanding and painting.
Looks Great! .... My wife wanted me to do this with our old claw foot tub and I told her it was impossible to cut! Thanks ... I think LOL. As far as finish goes I'm with you on the boat paint, but I was thinking to rattle can the outside (dull black w/gold feet) the issue is I do want to use it outdoors. What do you think? <br>thanks, Noah
If you want to use it outdoors then I'd say to maybe just use the boat paint all over You can get it in other colors. It's a really thick HQ polyurethane paint that I think would protect well. The Rustoleum paint on stuff would work well outside as well. In my mind I see you being able to build up thicker coats with a brush then with the rattle can for greater protection. <br /><br />In any case, the major obstacle to outdoor use is the cushion. I need to make a good outdoor cushion with a mesh kind of fabric that still looks good. Have any ideas on making DIY outdoor cushions?
ya for outside that may be the only way to get it to last more that one rainy season. Cushion: a closed cel foam def. but here in Cali with our long dry spells I just store our outdoor cushions when the rainy season begins and pull them out for parties and nice days. cheers.
It would be cool if you took the lamp stand beside the tub and mounted a hollowed out shower head with a light bulb in it.
Very cool idea!
I sandblasted the brass and copper fixture that I pulled off the tub with this in mind. <br /> <br />It's not pictured in the Instructable, but the plan was to make a lamp out of it by installing momentary switches at the base of the faucet handles. As they screw down (tighten the faucet) it actuates the switch. Screw up (loosen the faucet) and the light turns off. <br /> <br />I'll get around to making this lamp and keep it next to the couch to complete the effect.
You CAN erase the marker with alcohol
The entire surface gets sanded and painted so the excess of marker on the tub went away easily.
I meant it could have been erased before it got confusing. ;~)
Ha ha - now I understand your comment...yeah, that would have been a good idea :)
Looks Awesome! On cutting out the side of the tub, I wonder how a plasma cutter would work. Would it cause the porcelain to spall badly or even not cut at all? <br> <br>I've done cutting jobs that require lots and lots and lots of angle grinder work and while that works and all, I wouldn't mind finding a shortcut.
Might it help to keep the leading/cutting edge of the wheel rotating down onto the porcelain side so as not to flake out the enamel? <br>Similar to the way one would avoid splintering out of end grain in wood.
I also would go with a diamond wheel. <br>You can even get them that will fit your circular saw and grinder. <br>They're meant for tile so porcelain will be no trouble and you should get a clean unchipped edge.
that seems like a lot of trial and error. i wonder if resting the tub on its side in a make-shift larger tub (made from plastic sheeting) and fill the larger tub with colored water (food coloring, perhaps?) then prop up the tub with blocks until you get the lines right --since water is self leveling. then mark with a sharpie.
I'd try to get a good line with use of shadow rather than dunktank.
You would also think through &quot;Which painted sides will show when in place?&quot; and not waste sanding effort on back and bottom.
But then I wouldn't have done the project "all the way" Gotta go "all the way" with these things.

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Bio: I've worked for Instructables off and on since 2006 building and documenting just about everything I enjoy doing. I am now the Creative Programs ... More »
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