My son’s high school, in Hall County, Georgia has a tradition for seniors on yearbook day. Not only do they receive yearbooks first, but they also get to bring their own chair to sit in on the gym floor, instead of sitting on the bleachers with the rest of the student body.
It is not uncommon to see “chairs” such as traditional rockers, lawn chairs, even recliners. However, several students make their own. That is what my son chose to do. So, for inspiration, we scoured the “Google-net” to see what weird chairs we could find. That is when we stumbled across an art exhibit-type site and saw a chrome shopping cart-type chair. Sorry, we don’t recall the Web site, so we cannot provide the link. Anyway, we said “Hey, we can do this fairly easily. We just need a shopping cart.”
The next day, my son set out to find a cart in decent shape…not an easy task. After calling upon several stores, he lucked up when he asked the manager of a chain grocer. The manager told him that a cart from a competitor store showed up at his store and it would be a huge favor to him if my son would take it off his hands. “Winning!”
So, in a couple hours, we turned the shopping cart into an awesome senior chair. Here’s how we did it:
1. A metal shopping cart (in decent condition)
2. A set of bolt cutters
3. A couple screwdrivers (for removing corner bumper guards and advertisement frame)
4. A file (for the rough metal edges)
5. Some strong heavy-duty zip ties (unless you want to spot weld … which I do not know how)
6. A solid concrete block (or two)
7. Some seat cushions (lawn chair-type cushions will work well for this)
8. Braking casters (Optional)
Step 1: OBTAIN a GOOD SHOPPING CART
Find a shopping cart in good condition. Now, remember, it is illegal to take a shopping cart from any business without permission from the store management. Don’t call me if you get arrested for swiping one. I will NOT post your bail. I'm just sayin'.
Step 2: REMOVE CHILD SEAT
We started by removing the child seat back and bottom. This was fairly simple and literally only took about two or three minutes. The bottom of the seat back pivots at the bottom of the cart. All we had to do was straighten the two pivot points enough to disconnect it from the cart. We chose not to cut it, because we wanted to use it as a foot/leg support. The bottom part of the seat was repurposed to work as a head rest. To get the right angle of the back support, we had my son sit in the cart and we pushed the cart’s back up to a comfortable position. Then using a few heavy-duty zip ties, we tied it to the cart bottom. (Sorry, we failed to get a good picture of this step.)
Step 3: MAKE FOOT/LEG SUPPORT
Next, we removed the corner bumper guards, and the little plastic advertisement frame, with a screwdriver. This was to access the top horizontal wire framing. We started at the small end of the shopping cart…the end opposite of the handle. Using the bolt cutters, we cut the corners off of all but the bottom horizontal frame wire to maintain strength. Then, we carefully bent the end piece down to the proper angle for leg support.
Step 4: REMOVE THE ROUGH EDGES
The most time consuming step was done for safety’s sake. We had to file down the rough metal edges on all cuts made. After all, who wants to sit in a chair that scratches you or gives you tetanus?
Remember the child seat back? We attached it to the end of the cart to serve as an extension of the leg support. We re-bent the ends around the bottom horizontal frame wire and then used zip ties to join it to the bottom of the freshly cut leg support. We also removed the seat belt. (This is a good place to spot weld the pieces together. Since I cannot weld, I chose to use the heavy-duty zip ties.)
We also repurposed the old seat bottom to use as a headrest/support by attaching it to the top of the new seat back. This was fairly simple to do by re-bending it around the wire frame near the cart handle.
Step 6: A GOOD CHAIR NEEDS ARM RESTS
Knowing that every chair needs arm rests, we cut the top horizontal frame wires close to the handle on either side of the cart. (We had to remove the plastic edge guards to get a close cut. They popped right back into place afterwards.)
Then, we laid the cart on its side onto a concrete block. Using the force of my calf muscles, I pressed each side of the cart outward to get the proper angle. (This took more strength than I was expecting.)
Step 7: FINISHING TOUCHES
While my son and I were bending the arm rests, my daughter made a sign to put in the advertising frame which we attached to what is now the leg support. (It’s kind of like a vanity plate.)
We threw in some stadium cushions and attached a hammock pillow and it was done. Lawn furniture cushions would be ideal for this, but we didn’t have any to spare.)
Step 8: TA-DAA!!!
All in all, it turned out very well. It turned out to be a pretty cool chair for a pretty cool senior.
*** As an option, you can replace the cart’s wheels with braking casters. We chose not to do that.***