Upcycled Carved & Painted Wood Kitchen Chair

Introduction: Upcycled Carved & Painted Wood Kitchen Chair

About: My background is in architectural drafting, and I use these skills to design things I make out of wood. I also make tutorials on youtube about using AutoCAD software, and I also write software for use in Auto…

I have some plain old wood kithcen table chairs I decide to sprice up. The original cahir was just wood, nothing ornate, and they had some old greed seat cushions that were added later that look dated and kind of ugly.

I decided to do some Celtic knot carving on the chairs, and also make some new cushions with velvet upholstery fabric I bought on sale. I am not going to show how i made the cushions in this instructuable, I may do another one at a later date, but nothing complicated - you would probably find heaps of information on that part already.

I have made 2 videos to show how I completed each step.

Tools you need:

V Gouge / V Tool Chisel

Bevel Chisel

Gouge Chisel

Carving or Xacto or Stanley Knife

120 Grit Sandpaper




Paper Towel




Carbon or Graphite Paper

Pencil or Pen

Step 1: Clean the Chair

You need to clean the chair first as if its old, it may have grime on it and it will be hard to trace the design onto the wood if there is.

I used a magic sponge that I slightly wet, wiped the chair down on the parts I planned to decorate, then I dried the wood using a tea towel (or rag)

Step 2: Measure Chair & Attach Design

Using a tape measure, I measured the back rail, dividd the distance by 2 to find the half way point of the back rail of the chair. (In this case 280mm divide by 2 = 140mm mid point)

I then measured the design i had, and centred in on the back of the chair using some tape to affix it to the chair.

Step 3: Trace on Pattern

Using carbon or graphite paper, place it under the paper pattern then using a pen or pen trace over the lines as to leave an impression on the chair rail.

Step 4: Carving With V Tool

Using the V Tool or V Gouge, carve the design. I kind of massacred this part as my chisel was chipped and I should have also sharpened it. Other chairs I did came out much better once I did that.

Step 5: Draw on Pattern

Instead of tracing on a pattern for the chair back legs, I used a set square to draw directly onto the wood.

I measured the chair leg width which was 30mm wide. I divided by 2 to find the centre line which means the centre was 15mm in from each side.

To keep the angle at 45degrees down the leg, I made marks at also 15mm down the legs. Once I did that, i drew lines at 45degree angle down the leg.

Step 6: Stop Cuts

Using my carving knife (or xacto or stanley knife), score the lines you drew with the blade. These cuts are called stop cuts and are used in carving to stop the chisel at certain spots when carving.

Step 7: Carving & Sanding & Drawing Rest of the Design Around the Leg

Using the bevel chisel, angle the chisel slightly towards the stop cuts as you will see in the video in the introduction of this instructable. I add more depth in the corners for better depth and defintition of teh carved design.

Once you have finished the carving, use the 120grit sandpaper to remove the original finish on the wood (if your chair has any). This will allow for the paint/stain to penetrate better.

I also drew on the pattern around the rest of the leg edges then sanded them too.

Step 8: Painting the Carved Designs

For the painting of the design, I made a video which best shows how I went about it, but I have also included images in the following steps too.

Step 9: First Paint Coat

I used a brush with some paint and turps to dilute the colour. Make sure you remove as much tuprs from the brush before applying to the wood. This is so the turps and paint colour don't soak too far into the wood. This will matter for a later step.

Once you have applied a general light coat, use paper towel or a rag to wipe off any excess paint.

Step 10: Apply Dark Coat

To get the dark to light gradient effect, add a thick dark coat of the paint and brush from the dark part towards the light coloured centre of the leg. Use paper towel to smooth the transition. You will need to do this effect a few times during this process of painting the legs.

Step 11: Applying Dark Paint to Deep Carving Recesses

Apply a dark undiluted paint with a brush to the edges as shown. Then use paper towel to wipe and blend light coloured parts towards the dark painted edges.

Repeat the previous step on the top and bottom of the chair legs to deepen the gradient look.

Step 12: Chisel Light Spots & Pattern

Using the Gouge Chisel, scrape over the design tile parts to get a brighter look to contrast with the dark paint. I just scraped enough paint off to show the lighter coloured wood below. (Of course this won't work on a dark wood).

I used the other 2 chisels to make some textured parts on the top and bottom of the chair legs.

Step 13:

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    2 Discussions


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks Penelopy