Old Lumber to a New Chair





Introduction: Old Lumber to a New Chair

About: Freelance woodworker by nights and weekends.


About 26 years ago I began building my log home (you can see the process here) using the trees in the property. At that time I had purchased a chainsaw mill (see it in the link above) in order to cut the beams for the timber frame structure inside the house. I had two leftover boards that had been sitting outside all these years until I decided to put them in the dry last year. A few weeks ago, I decided to make something with them and the project turned into this chair.

Step 1: Worthy Board.

I was really surprised to find this oak board almost without any rot after 25 years of exposure to the elements. Most oak lumber this size would have been totally decomposed after five to seven years. The board cut in half and sides planed served as the seat of the chair. You can clearly see the unique character a chainsaw mill creates on boards. The last picture shows the discovery of nail after I ran my super magnet over the board.

Step 2: Carving the Seat.

Both pieces were held together with pipe clamps while using pencil chalk to freehand draw the shape of the seat prior to carving it out with a chainsaw blade attachment on a grinder. The rough cut was then cleaned out with a 60 grit sanding disk and scraped with steel scrapers.

Step 3: Cleaning the Seat .

Some more scraping to take as many visible scratch lines as possible will reduce the need for sanding (2nd picture).

For the legs, I managed to find a narrower and thicker beam with the same characteristics in my wood pile. It must have been put up at the same time as the seat board. A rabbet cut all the way around the beams will serve as a support for the chair seat. Also, cuts were made in the seat to accommodate the beams. Due to the irregularity of seat boards, there are gaps between the seat and the beam which will be either filled with epoxy or left alone.

Step 4: Making the Legs.

Next, the tenons were cut on the legs to support the armrests and using french rules, the legs were shaped on the bandsaw.

Step 5: Armrests.

Mortises on the armrests were dug out to receive the tenons and then cut on the tablesaw. One side of both legs and armrests were planed to create a contrast between the rustic and finished sides of the wood.

Step 6: Assembly and Finishing.

All the roughcuts were slightly sanded to expose some of the wood grain and then the entire surface was brushed with a wire brush to remove dirt in the grooves. The armrests were glued and clamped together prior to assembling the two halves of the seat to the legs. After a final sanding to 320 grit on all the planed surfaces two coats of Watco Teak Oil was utilized to finish the project. This chair will be another conversation piece to our studio's addition.

Thank you for looking

I welcome all your comments and feedback.



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    12 Discussions

    I love the chair. Great job!

    Thank you Dogfish7. Appreciate the feedback.

    It sure is an interesting conversation piece and a great use of recycled wood for decks and gardens.

    I don't understand, is this really meant to be used as a chair, or is it just a decorative accessory with butt slots? Because if it is really meant to be a chair, it seems like it would be hideosly unstable with only two legs, and also those armrests look like they would be terribly uncomfortable.

    It's a beautiful job, don't get me wrong, but to call it a chair seems to be stretching the bounds of plausibility. "Chair shaped artwork" seems more accurate.

    1 reply

    Yes, it appears that way. You can sit on the chair and lean back up to 20 degrees without experiencing any movement. Off course the chair does not have a back and it is not designed to serve as a recliner. The armrest are actually quite comfortable. I think the piece does serve a dual purpose; it can sit against a wall if a backing is desired or it can be used as a garden chair and it can also serve as a decorative piece or all the above. Maybe I should put a warning label on it, "DO NOT USE WHILE INTOXICATED".

    This looks like some professional work. Beautiful. If you would have put a price to it now, what would it be?

    1 reply

    Thank you for the complement ryoursoul. We have a studio that people come to by appointment. It is tagged at $230. Pretty reasonable I think.