Friday, March 22, 2013

Squared2 Dining Chair

I tell my students that stories are often about a journey the character takes.  The character wants something, but an obstacle gets in their way.  Often, the character must change something to solve their problem and achieve a resolution.  The change, I've told my second graders, is what we call learning.

A week ago, I started two journeys.  The first was building a dining chair: the most time consuming wood project I've tried to date.

The second was even more life changing; even more of a learning opportunity.  I decided to sponsor a 6 year old girl in Bolivia through Compassion International.

My Compassion journey will hopefully last 15 years or more from today, so the learning has just begun.  The dining chair journey is near its end, so I will share my learning about it here today.

My first dining chair, freshly painted.
1 - 2"x4" x 8 ft. Already owned
4 - 2"x2" x 4 ft. Clear Douglas Fir $17
2 - 1"x2" x 4 ft. Already owned
1 - 1"x4" x 8 ft. Already owned
2" pocket hole screws $4
Valspar shimmer powder $7

Miter saw, jigsaw, block planer, sander and sand paper, wood glue (Titebond III), cordless Hitachi drill, Mini Kreg Jig kit, 1 1/4" pocket hole screws, Glidden flat "oops" teal, sample of Valspar "Mystique" in Satin  Already owned

The amount I paid is based on pricing in Hawai'i. 
My first Squared2 dining chair cost $28 to build and finish with much of the wood already owned, leftovers from having my kitchen cabinets built.

I followed the plans for Ana White's Squared2 Chair, based on West Elm's overlapping squares chair design.  During my weeklong journey of building this chair, there were certain things I had to test and change from the original plans.  Here are some notes about the roads I took:

1.  I cut the 2x4 @ 37" instead of 36" or an even 3 ft.  I did this because I wanted to allow for space at the bottom of the squares design for a 1" seat cushion.

2.  I cut the 2x4 with my brother's jigsaw because we don't own a circular saw.  It was so rough and uneven, that I spent a good hour planing the wood until the two back legs were even enough.

3.  To adjust for the additional inch of the back legs, I measured the rectangular space in the middle of the back support and adjusted Ana's 1x2 cut list to fit the space I had.  My measurements became:  2@8", 2@6.5", 4@5.75" for the 4 larger 90 degree Ls.  I kept the smaller 90 degree Ls the same dimensions: 4@2.5" and 4@3.25".  Unlike the plan, I made all the spacers between the 90 degree Ls the same width: 4@3". 

I used my Mini Kreg Jig to make pocket holes for attaching all pieces of wood.
My brother's cordless drill is now my favorite drill of the 4 drills my brothers own.  It's smaller, so it fits well in my hand.  It's light weight, it lights the drilling area, and its powered by a Lithium Ion battery that charges quickly.  Love it. :)
Placing my Mini Kreg Jig under to attach the front legs and seat frame to the back legs.
I clamped the seat frame and back legs together, ensuring the chair could stand upright without a wobble before I screwed the two together using the underside pocket holes and pocket hole screws.
One flaw in my execution (of the many) includes that the seat back was slightly angled, but I cut all my 1x2s with straight cuts.  Had this portion been too long, I would have fired up my Miter saw at 5 degree increments until I got the right angle, but I will likely leave this be, since it will be covered by a seat cushion.
I added shimmer powder to the Valspar Mystique sample paint in an effort to create a shimmery shell or "pearlescent" effect for my "sea garden" theme.
I painted the areas inside the squares the "oops" teal color my brother purchased for about $3.
The completed chair, even with my bowing seat bottom, another flaw.  I didn't realize the wood that had been lying across our stairwell for months had bowed and would stay bowed even when I screwed the boards together to make the seat.
Now, I just need to build 3 more.  Or maybe just 1.  These chairs are larger than any other chair I've seen, which is great for my husband perhaps, but not so great for short little me.  :)  Maybe I could build 2 large chairs and 2 smaller versions without it looking too odd at our not-yet-built dining table.

I didn't realize building a dining chair for the first time would be such a journey, but I've learned so much that the second time around will probably be a cake walk in comparison.

Check out some other kitchen projects:


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