I Fought the Chairs

And the chairs won.

First, welcome back! The Christmas hiatus is officially over. With the holidays, time with family, friends, birthdays, travel, and sickness that left the entire house couch-bound for nearly a week, there was little time for project completion, so let’s jump right in to our latest adventure!

Did you notice when I posted about our table, there were no chairs accompanying it? Well, now we have:

Picked up from our local Habitat
Picked up from our local Habitat

These chairs, like our table, were a steal from our local Habitat Restore, an extension of the Habitat for Humanity nonprofit that builds homes for low-income deserving families in the community. Unfortunately I quickly learned that a deal is not always worth the steal.

This will be a quick how-to of reupholstering and finishing chairs. First, flip them over to find the screws that are securing the seat and remove them. The screws in these chairs were particularly disgusting and rusty, they will be replaced once the seats are reinstalled.

The easiest part of reupholstering chairs!
The easiest part of reupholstering chairs!

Then, it’s time to sand. I actually bought a new tool for this project, a Ryobi corner cat, to help with all the the little corners, thinking our orbital sander would have been too big. This was mistake one. I should have used the orbital sander for the majority of the work and the new corner cat for the edge work, but I used it for the whole project. These chairs were just awful-they must have used a joint varnish and poly because I had to sand all the way to the grain, otherwise the finish was cloudy. This would have blocked any new stain and the final product would have been blotchy (Don’t worry, I have proof for you later).

After 80 grit paper
After 80 grit paper

 

After spending 4+ hours sanding I was ready to throw them out and buy something else because it never should have taken that long. All of the corners and curves took way more time to cover than I anticipated and knowing I would have had to do it again before staining was just torture. But I refused to let the chairs win, and pushed on. Mistake number two.

One of three (of four) chairs partially sanded
One of three (of four) chairs partially sanded

And then my corner cat died. Dead. Caput. 4 straight hours was not a good idea for that little motor. I bought a new one, knowing not to push the power on it. After another 4+ hours sanding (each chair was sanded twice, once to remove the varnish and once to smooth and prime for staining), they were finally, finally ready.

Using a rag, I applied the same stain as the table and at this point they’ve had one coat. They’ll need another before varnish which will really bring the color out.

After one coat of stain
After one coat of stain

Now I’m about 90% done with the first phase of refinishing these chairs. Up next, you’ll see them with final stain and varnish, and I’ll detail how to reupholster the seats.

Have you ever scrapped a project that you decided wasn’t worth the hassle?

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