In this Instructable I’ll explain how I made this Children’s chair out of scraps. You may not have the exact same materials lying around but you can take inspiration from it to apply to any other surplus materials you may have to make something similar.
The main part of the chair comes from the top of a bar stool. Long story short, I have 2 purple bar stool chairs which you can’t buy any more. The base of one of them broke and was irreparable despite best efforts, so I bought the cheapest one I could find in the same range (identical bottom) so I could replace the bottom. The red top was left over and I wanted to make it into something rather than sending it to land fill.
Most of the work in this project is making the legs, and these used to be garden fence posts. They had held a fence up for a good 20 years and were rotten at both ends, but the middle parts of the posts seemed OK. A neighbour offered to put them on his bonfire, but I preferred to at least try to make them into something, and I’m glad I did.
I do use a small piece of plywood, this was left over from another project. Screws were lying around the workshop, and the finish was also left over from another project. I did use felt pads for the bottom of the legs but I already had them and I also used some M6 bolts which was the only material I had to purchase specifically for this project.
- Bar stool chair top, or any thing else that would serve as a chair top.
- Scrap wood: Can be old wooden fence posts, offcuts, anything reclaimed you can re-use
- Screws: Whatever you can find
- Double sided tape
- Finish: Whatever you have left in a tin from an old project
- Felt pads
- Super glue
- M6 bolts
- Metal detector
- Table saw
- Edge jointing jig (home made – Links to how to make your own)
- Chop saw
- Random orbital sander (hand sanding works also)
- Drill, wood bits, and counter sinking bit
- Paint brush
- Angle finder
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Step 1: Sawing the Legs
Before I took to the fence posts with power tools I checked for any hidden metal that might damage a blade. I found a few giant nails that were best pulled out with some grips with a twist. Where some were stubborn, I left them be, marked where they were, and made sure I cut around them.
Note: Where I removed nails and they left a big hole, I decided not to fill the hole. I felt like keeping the holes in the legs from when they were fence posts were a nice reminder that the legs have been made from reclaimed wood.
Once all nails were removed it was time to start copping the fence posts to size. In my case I had some rotten wood to get through, so I used a chop saw to cut away the rotten ends until I hit solid wood.
I cut 4 pieces into lengths no shorter than 40mm.
Because my table saw has a maximum ripping height of 80mm, and the edge jointing jig swallows 10mm of that, I performed a rip cut down one edge, enough to leave me with no more than 70mm width. I had to do this in 2 passes, one on each side as my saw struggled to get through that much material in one pass.
Then, using the edge jointing jig (see links in step 1 to make your own) I shaved about 1mm off to give myself a perfect face.
I like to check my blade is 90 degrees to the base of the edge jointing jig before cutting as I have an entry level table saw which isn’t very accurate for precision cuts. I checked this using my angle finding tool.
I then flipped this face down and did a rough cut then a clean cut on the 2nd face giving to perfect faces which were 90 degrees to each other.
Step 2: Cutting the Taper on the Legs
I wanted the legs to be tapered to suit the style I was going for and after some tinkering worked out that the taper needed to be around 8 degrees. To cut this I set my angle finder to 8 degrees and drew a line on my edge jointing jig. I then placed each leg blank on the edge jointing jig in line with the line that I had drawn, and performed a rip cut on the 2 sides remaining that had not yet been cleaned up.
Step 3: Cutting the Ends of the Legs
The last cut left to do was at each end of each leg to give me 4 legs of the same size. I also wanted the legs to flare out on 2 different planes, so these had to be cut at 2 angles at the same time. To do this I used my chop saw with the angle set to 30 degrees on the vertical and horizontal axis.
I cut the smallest end first, making sure all were cut at the same at the same point, then used a makeshift end stop to give this distance to the larger end of which I cut at the same angle.
Step 4: Making the Base
To make the base for the legs I traced around the top of the bar stool on to paper, then cut it approximately 75mm smaller from the traced line so that the edge of this base would be out of sight.
I transferred this cut out onto a piece of 18mm plywood (leftover from a previous project) and cut it out with a jig saw.
Step 5: Fixing the Legs
I marked out a square on the base and used double sided tape to temporarily stick each leg in place. I then drilled a pilot hole through the base (using my angle finder to make sure the pilot hole followed the line down the shaft of each leg). This was to prevent any splitting. I then countersunk each hole and screwed in the longest screw I could find into each leg. I repeated the process for a 2nd screw to ensure the legs were as strong as possible.
I then drilled 4 holes in the base which aligned with 4 threaded holes in the base of the bar stool
Step 6: Finishing
I used a random orbital sander to smooth out any rough cuts.
I also applied a chamfer at the bottom of each leg to help prevent and splits or chips if the chair is to be dragged across the floor at any time in future.
I then applied 2 coats of a varnish with a walnut stain making sure I sanded with a 240 grit paper between coats.
Once dry I stuck a round felt pad on to each leg with some superglue. The felt pads I had were self adhesive, and square in shape, however from experience I’ve found adding some extra strong glue helps to keep them secure, as does rounding off the corners to prevent them from coming unstuck.
Step 7: Final Assembly
Once everything was dry, I used the M6 bolts through the holes I had previously drilled to fix the base to the top making the most of the existing threads in the base which is where the bar stool would have attached.
What was left was a kids chair with a unique style that my children love to use every day, and all it cost be was £3, about $5, for a pack of bolts.