The Most Comfortable Seat in the House




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Ah, the best seat in the house.  There is something just quite right with the way it feels when you sit down on it.  It is inviting and familiar.  Make yourself at home.

OK, this is more a fixer-upper story and a fable of breathing new life into a piece of furniture destined for the trash heap.

This chair at my parent's house has been around forever so it could be a half a century old.  I don't recall how it was acquired but it is typical of chairs found in Chinese restaurants. Usually the surplus furniture or discards from there would be reused by frugal immigrant workers and passed along.  Maybe that would explain the Asian fascination with IKEA, the same purposeful design mantra that you would find in a restaurant supply house.  My mother would always sew a seat cushion from fabric scraps she had from the garment factory.  Anyway, we had a bunch of these chairs when we were growing up.  They served as nightstands, TV dinner trays, homework study tables, bookcases, clothes racks, places to put your stuff, and to be cleared off when guests needed a seat.  The best was when my brothers and I would stack them up in various configurations to mimic a jet fighter, yes, two chairs laid down back to back was the cockpit and two chairs over would be the sliding canopy.  They also served as the framework to erect tents when you threw a blanket over them.  And it made a good maze to chase and play with the dog.

As you can see, the seat panel has been worn through the generations of use.  What to do.  Yeah, you could just chuck it and get a new one but the legs and back are still sturdy.  It would be a shame to toss out something with sentimental value.  Lemme see what I can do to fix it up.

Got a good story and picture of your favorite chair?  Chairs like most furniture are conversation pieces.  If they could only talk. Post it and tell me about it below.  I don't have a penny for your two cents but I do have a couple of one-year Pro memberships to pass on for your tale.


Step 1: Assess the Situation...

One old beat up chair.

If you sit on it, your butt goes through the chair.

The seat panel is worn through.  It was a thin veneer plywood to begin with.  It has been thinned by use and cracked under pressure from things sitting on top of it.

I know the chair has been through some scrubbing with a bucket of water and soap.  That is how you cleaned things in the old days.  There was no such thing as a can of furniture polish that you spray and wipe.

Everything except the seat bottom is still serviceable.

The proper fix is to remove the seat bottom layer from the chair frame and replace it with a similar thin piece of plywood.

I believe they were slightly formed to fit the curve of one's bottom either by some carving or steam bending of the plywood.

That would take some time in the workshop along with some heavy duty tools to remove the seat bottom and form a new one.

There is an lazier easier way!

Step 2: Sugru to the Rescue...

Looking through my scrap wood pile,  I do not have any thin cabinet grade plywood to replace the seat bottom.

But, I do have an old oak toliet seat.  Hey, oak is expensive!  I reclaimed an old oak toilet seat during one of my bathroom renovations.  I guess you would kinda of think it was funky but I sanitized and sanded off the original finish wearing a face mask.  Maybe I thought the brass hardware from it could have been used for something steampunky.

I also have a bunch of Sugru.  That's the silicone putty that's the rage today.  Meet up with the ibles staff at a Maker Faire to score some.

The Sugru would also solve the problem of how to attach the toilet seat to the chair.  I could screw in the hardware that goes to the toilet seat cover but then I would have to get some brass mounting screws to match.

Screwing in from the top of the toilet seat would not be good if you don't countersink and plug in the screw holes.  People do like that riveted porthole look though.

Screwing from the bottom would be tricky as not to puncture the surface.  Mini-L brackets would require a lot of pilot hole drilling.

Just glue would not be good to adhere to a failing veneer surface.

You take the Sugru out of the packet, knead it for a bit to activate it, and mash it on something like a wad of gum.  The Sugru will allow us to accomodate the uneven surface and pin the toilet seat to the chair rim where it will provide support.  

Step 3: Plant It There...

Take a few dabs of the Sugru and place it where the toilet seat contacts the chair rim.

I guess I could have ripped out the broken seat bottom panel and cleared it out but I left it in as a visual reminder to block out the thought that this was a commode chair.

Press the assembly together.

The seat may be used immediately but avoid shifting or getting ants in your pants.  Sugru should cure completely overnight.

Maybe a nice tung oil finish for this one

It does seem to be ADA compliant  with normal seat height.

Pull up a chair but always keep the seat down!




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    10 Discussions


    6 years ago on Step 3

    I worry that prolonged sitting in this chair could lead to some of the same ailments that present with prolonged sitting on a toilet seat in a more... errm... typical situation.

    Exacerbation--or even development--of hemorrhoids, as well as blood-flow issues stemming from the compression of the posterior thigh are both concerns raised in the medical literature, typically in regard to patients who tend to read the entire Sunday Times (and do the crossword) while enthroned.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    As one who has sat reading too long (and learned better since), in the 'game of thrones, then stood up only to find I had no control over or feeling in my legs..promptly falling to my face.. I can attest that long sits in that chair might be 'comfy', but could cause either a medical, home owner's or both insurance claim if the person were as big a fool as me!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I remember one chair I pretty much grew up in, it was one of the UGLIEST brown chairs you'd ever seen, but when you sat in it it felt like you were sitting in/on a cloud. It was an old lay-z-boy rocker and glider. My mom hap picked it up from a curb alert basically. There were many nights and days that I would just sleep in the chair rather than going to my own bed (and I had, and still do, a water bed!). lol Through out the years it had been stained with various items such as juices, nail polish, and paint. My mom and I loved that chair, but sadly we had to get rid of it to make room for new couches, I hated to see the chair go since it had such a huge part of my child hood. I still remember curling up in the seat and using the arm rest as a pillow, yes it was that big.

    3 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    My wife and I had a lovely couch and chair (the kind that felt like a cloud) recovered and brought back to life. Our idea was to re-envigorate and bring back a gorgeous 1910's 'Hotel Lobby' style couch (that actually had been a rescue from a very upscale hotel that opened in 1872). At the last minute I asked the upholsterer to match the original material as it was so lovely... Sometimes just letting go is the right decision. We later discovered, through casual shopping around, that for the same cost we could have bought three sets of very nice new furniture! The upside? After 25 years it still looks like the day we got it from the a new couch!


    Ha, every time I see a lady with a rose print floral dress, it reminds me of the pattern we had on the old couch.

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    5 years ago on Introduction

    I have a chair with a particular creak when only Aunt 'L***s' sits on it. My wife and I have a wee chortle imagining that the chair is very specifically saying, "Oh! My god! Look! It's Aunt L***s' butt headed for us again! BRACE!", anyway, we think that is what that particular chair is saying because it remains eerily silent at all others times when others are using it...

    This was not what I expected when I seen the pic but once I started reading it reminded me of a chair from my childhood. Growing up we use to visit my grandparents back in the hollar where you had to pump in sunlight to see. Anyway when we would visit I was always given this little chair that granpa had made way back when my mother was little, and grandma used as a stepstool. The chair looked like a adarondac (sp?) type chair but the seat was made to be removed. For years I played and sat on that chair. Then getting to a certain age boys get to when things start to make you think. I got to really looking at the seat and seen that the chair that I was playing with was actually a potty chair. The back of the chair, that had a hole in it, could be detached from the chair and swapped for the seat. It was a multipurpose chair that had suddenly grossed me out! I never sat in that seat again. Thanks for reminding me of that chair. I havent thought about that in over 35+ years.

    1 reply