This time I show how to make a modern chair by sprucing up some Eames style molded chairs with some new walnut mid century modern bases!
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Step 1: Gather Materials and Tools
Step 2: Prototype
The first thing I did was build a prototype to work out the proportions and make sure the design is sturdy enough. I just pocket holed and screwed the prototype together which is a lot weaker than the final product will be. Because the prototype held me bouncing on it, I know the final bases will be plenty strong.
Step 3: Break Down Material
The other nice thing about having a prototype, is it made laying out my pieces really easy.
Once it's laid out, I rough everything out at the miter saw station and band saw.
Step 4: Shape the Legs
The legs sit at an angle and have an inside taper.
After they come off the bandsaw I joint one edge to make sure it's flat and square.
Then I cut the top and bottom angles at the miter station with a stop block to make sure they're all the same length.
Last, I use a tapering jig on my table saw to cut the inside taper. You can see how I made the jig in my video on making the table that these chairs match.
Step 5: Cut the Leg to Stretcher Half Laps
The legs and stretchers will be joined using half laps.
I cut these at my table with a dado stack to remove the material quickly. This could be done with a standard blade, it would just take longer.
The dado stack leaves a rough finish, so I smooth out the joints with hand planes.
Step 6: Drill the Holes for Dowels in the Stretchers
The "X" part of the base will be joined with dowels.
The black guide block is from my Rockler doweling jig, I just took the acrylic piece off so I could build this jig to accurately and consistently locate the holes in the stretchers.
Step 7: Glue the Legs to the Stretchers
Next is gluing the legs and stretchers together. Nothing tricky about this sticky job!
Step 8: Add the Brass Pins
I add brass pins to the leg/stretcher joint for aesthetics and reinforcement.
Each joint will get two pins, with 6 chairs that's 48 holes! So I made a quick jig for my drill press to make this go quickly without having to mark each hole.
Because the legs are splayed at angle, it creates a twisting force on the joint. The angled half laps help counter-act this some, but glue joints are not strong against that type of leverage. The pins will help eat that rotation force before it strains the glue bond.
Step 9: Flush Up the Joints and Brass Pins
When I cut the half laps I left them just a touch proud. Now I use my oscillating sander to flush them up and bring the pins flush with the wood.
Step 10: Join the Leg/Stretcher Assemblies Together
Time to look like a chair base!
The first thing I do is hot glue on some scrap blocks cut at an angle. This will give my clamps parallel surfaces to clamp on to so they don't slip off.
Step 11: Level the Legs
No matter how careful I am, I haven't had any luck with chairs coming out level, so I use this table saw trick.
Raise the blade just a tiny bit, I did about 1/32" of an inch. And slowly run the "long" legs over them blade until the chair stops rocking.
Step 12: Apply Finish
The wooden part is all done, so I go ahead and put on three coats of General Finishes Arm-R-Seal.
I lightly sand between each coat with 400 grit sandpaper.
Step 13: Make the Rear Base to Chair Hardware
The tricky bit.. how to attach these bases to the chair bodies. The chairs are made to be attached with the front about an inch higher than the rear.
This is the rear piece, you'll see how they attach when install them.
Tip: I don't have any metal cutting saws so I clamp my angle grinder to the edge of my bench and make sure the disc is perpendicular to the bench top.
Step 14: Make the Front Base to Chair Hardware
This is the front piece, you'll see how they attach when install them.
The small hole is to screw the bracket to the base.
The large hole is for the bolt that holds it to the chair, and gives clearance for the drill to drive the screw into the base.
Step 15: Attach the Base to the Chair
This part was a bit tricky.
I marked the location for the back bracket and screwed it on, then put the base back on the chair. You can see how the rear bracket kind of slips under the bolt head on the chair.
Then I bolt through the front brackets. I cut down an Allen key to fit in the small space.
Step 16: Enjoy!
And it's all done! These chairs were made to match a table I made. You can find the table build here.
You can pre-order plans for these chairs here at a 25% discount, the sale will end when they are published. Or consider pre-ordering the plan bundle for the table and chairs here for even more savings!
Thanks for following along!
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