Introduction: Thrift-shop Chair Upgrade

About: Everything I make is done with love and imperfection.

I found this awesome chair at a thrift store and with a bit of attention and love it has claimed its rightful place as my favorite reading chair.

Step 1: Materials

Here is my old chair. To upgrade it I used:

  • sandpaper
  • metal brackets
  • wood glue
  • wood filler
  • crazy glue
  • tung oil

Step 2: Sanding

The first step was to sand off the old, flaking varnish from all of the wooden parts. Photo 1 shows a before picture with photo 2 after sanding - I love how the grain stands out!

I was careful around where the fabric meets the wood because I didn't want to cause any friction burns into the delicate fabric.

Step 3: Repair Structure

After looking over the chair closely while sanding, I found few cracks that needed repairing.

First, I reinforced the legs that had cracks with metal brackets (photo 1).

Any splits that I found I filled with wood glue and allowed to dry. None of them were bad enough that they required clamping or reinforcing with screws - but this is something that you should consider when evaluating a split.

Once the glue was dry I smoothed wood filler into the split, allowed to dry, and then sanded down again. Photo 2 shows the most difficult split after wood filling but before I sanded it smooth. Although it looks like it is in the centre of the wood, it is still only close to the surface.

Step 4: Fabric Check

The original fabric of this chair is the reason that I bought it. I love the colour and the pattern. Although it is faded and worn in a few spots - it is in pretty good shape.

As I had no desire to recover, and no chance of finding the same fabric, there wasn't much that I could do to repair the few splits. I used crazy glue to seal any fraying edges, which I hope will keep it from deteriorating any further.

I beat out as much dirt (and sawdust from my sanding) from the fabric as well.

Step 5: Renew Wooden Parts

Tung oil is a natural finish that I used to bring out the grain and protect the wood. Photo 1 shows the difference it makes in bringing out the grain and infusing the wood with colour and life. I played around with the idea of staining the wood before oiling, but on a test with the oil I saw how much richer it made the colour of the wood and I decided that I didn't need a stain.

I applied the tung oil with an old sock, being careful around the fabric joinings.

This was the last step in making the chair ready for reading - a simple upgrade of a thrift-store find that didn't take very long, but likely extended the life of the chair.