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How To Make A Mid Century Modern Chair – This project was also part of my school woodworking class. I wanted a furniture project that would really mean something to me. Hmm… what could make more sense than a chair that I sit on 24/7?! How about a chair with a really cool design? So I started looking for chair design inspiration and found Shaun Boyd’s Mid-Century Modern Lounge Chair. It was a beautiful piece, like all his channel projects. I knew this was my project, but since there were no programs available, I made my own. (Update: Sean now has plans on his website.)
Below is a list of the tools I used. Other means may be used as substitutes. As always, take proper safety precautions when working with machinery.
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Using images of Sean Boyd’s chair, I began to create sketches and full-size drawings of what I wanted my chair to look like. While I’m sure it’s not an exact replica, I think I’ve captured the unique style of the chair pretty well.
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For convenience, I have converted my full-scale drawings to CAD drawings, which you can find as a STEP file below. This will help you visualize the chair more. I also added details such as pins, tongue and groove joints and screws. I tried to make everything as accurate as possible. I have also made full scale PDF drawings which are also below. Note: These are large documents and should be printed on large 44″ x 34″ paper or stapled to multiple 8.5″ x 11″ sheets to achieve full scale. See this guide on how to “lay out” documents on multiple sheets of paper.
The prototype was quick and cheap because I used cheap scrap 3/4″ painted pine and plywood. I also didn’t bother building the “L” frame and seat parts. I made the legs using the same process as in this instructable and used them as templates for the actual legs.
The legs and arms are made of 5/4-inch oak. The leg assembly consists of three parts: the front leg, the armrest and the back leg. I was able to get two pieces from each section out of the 7 1/4″ wide board, so I only used the 3 5/4″ pieces of board. I cut 3 pieces from an 8 inch long board and then the leg pieces with the prototype legs. I made sure the leg went over the edge with a straight edge. on the board (this is the reference surface for that miter saw) and then roughly cut off all the legs of the band saw.
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Now I used double sided tape to stick a pair of identical pieces together. I made all the miter cuts on the miter saw and cut both pieces flush. This ensured that the two sets of legs were identical.
I marked the position of the pins on each offset joint and made sure the line matched the other side of the joint. I then used a 3/8 inch drill bit and a rotary drill bit to drill the holes for the pins. I set the depth of each hole to just over half the length of the lid.
I let each joint dry and after making sure the holes are lined up I can get ready to glue the leg pieces. I hand tightened the screw clamps parallel to the face of each joint. This will create creases that will give me something to hold on to when I glue the joint. I then applied wood glue to all the joint surfaces and clamped them all together with 4 bar clamps in one joint. I wiped off any glue stick with a damp cloth.
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Once the legs were dry, I used double sided tape to stick the two sets of legs together. I used a spindle sander and hand belt sander to get the parts down to final size. Another approach would be to use a router template to match the legs exactly to the prototype template.
All seat pieces are made from 3/4″ x 7 1/4″ oak. First I cut out all the board pieces I needed.
Then, using a dado stack, I formed 1/4″ x 1/2″ tabs on both sides of the pieces to form the vertical pieces. I then ripped three vertical stretchers from each 7 1/4″ wide board.
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I also ripped off the horizontal extension pieces from the table saw. I then cut grooves into the horizontal stretcher with the dado stack and spring board.
After I checked that the frame would fit, I sanded the sides of all the stretchers with 220 grit because that will come later. I also cut ten 1 inch spacers to give the stretcher the proper spacing.
Next, I glued both the seat frame and the back frame. I used 4 bar clamps for one glue to keep the horizontal parts under even pressure.
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Once dry, I used a 1/4 inch circle on the portable router to align the horizontal of the portable on both frames. Finally, I sanded everything down with 150 and 220 grit sandpaper.
Two blunt L-shaped brackets will be used to connect the seat to the backrest. The band saw was rough cut from the same 3/4 inch oak planks.
I used the same process as when making the legs. fix with double-sided tape, cut the corners at an angle, drill holes for the dowel and glue.
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After each “L” was dry, I added a 1/4″ circle with a portable router, then sanded everything down to 220.
Next, I sketched out where the seat and back will rotate in the bracket. I drilled ten pilot holes with a drill bit smaller than the wood screw threads in one bracket. I then aligned the mounts and moved the test holes to another mount.
Assembling the seats is a two-man job as there are many parts that need to be aligned. The seat is glued without screws. Bolts will be added later to provide structural support.
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First, I glued the two frames to one L-shaped bracket and let it dry for about 10 minutes. I then clamped the second L-bracket and let the entire unit dry for 24 hours.
I then lengthened the pilot holes in the seat frame (bolt length) to prevent the oak from splitting. Also, I used a lock washer to hold the bolt heads about 1/8″ below the face of the “L” bracket. After all the wood screws were in, I plugged and sealed all the screw holes with oak wax and sanded them. I made sure to line up the grain of the dowels with the grain of the surrounding wood to flush. Some of the cork grain blended so well with the wood that it was hard to tell there was even cork there.
Before attaching the legs, I rounded off all the sharp edges on the router and sanded the 220.
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I then glued one leg of the chair to the seat and made sure the legs were attached at the correct position and angle. After about 10 minutes I glued the second leg and made sure it was in the same position as the first.
While the glue was drying, I glued several small wooden rectangles into the grooves of the horizontal seat shelf. This completely hides the groove and prevents dust from accumulating in the groove.
After 24 hours I drilled pilot holes, countersunk and drove some 2 inch deck nails where the legs attach to the seat block. The bolts went all the way through the seat frame. This helps to avoid high forces weakening the adhesion of the adhesive. I also hid these screws with matching oak candles.
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To prepare the chair for the finish, I sanded away any imperfections and wiped away any dust with a cloth.
After the oil had soaked for 24 hours, I applied a coat of polyurethane and sanded it with 500 grit sandpaper.
For the final touch, I burned my name into the back of the chair with a thin pointed wood burner. This makes the chair now an official family heirloom.
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How repeated spraying turned into a complete 1959. Austin Hill sprite restoration. Liebregts from Cars We found these two vintage mid-century chairs at the Brimfield Fair about two years ago and paid $400 for the set. They originally left the hotel in PA, although I didn’t get any more info, I was so busy trying to find them.
About two years ago, I looked online and at vintage shows for something I could afford, but most of the vintage pieces were around $400 per chair, which was more than we could afford.
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