Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fixing a Chair

I had a number of things to work on this weekend, but with the cold weather, I decided to tackle some inside projects. One of those was fixing a barstool that has had a broken support.

I don’t know what happened, but the kids broke one of the cross pieces in a bar stool that’s in the kitchen. The four legs are each connected by two sets of cross braces, as shown below. The lower one at the bottom of the picture was actually broken and missing, resulting in a creaky chair that Tia was worried about.


I had been thinking about what to do here and decided to make my own new cross brace, after all, I have a lathe.

My first step was to cut a piece of pine down to about the right size. I measured the space, and the hole depth in the chair and added a bit of pad, about 1/2”. I then used calipers to measure the center diameter of an existing brace (1 1/4”) and the ends (3/4”). With all that written down, I put the wood on the lathe.


That’s the square piece of wood on the lathe, and the dust collector behind it, which works OK. Not great, and something to fix. I don’t have a chuck, which is a hassle. I used friction to hold things there and started turning.


Using a lathe is pretty easy, and I made a lot of shavings and dust, as you can see. Once you get the hang of it, the hardest part to me is relaxing your shoulders as I find I tense up with this piece of wood spinning around.

I started working the piece round at the edges.


This is early on, and you can see that it’s still square in the middle of the piece, looking at it sideways (short sides) and in the middle (long ways). It took me about 30-40 minutes, with a few breaks, to round this off. Once that was done, I started to slowly turn the center down to the 1 1/4” diameter.  Once the center was the right diameter, I worked my way towards the edges, bringing those down.

I found that making pencil makes at the center, and the ends, helps me to focus on how much to turn down.


This is near the end, and as you can see, it’s tapered. Not perfectly, and not even, but not bad. I found that I had to take it off the lathe and go compare it a few times with the existing braces on the chair. Once I thought it was done, I cut off the edges (couldn’t turn them all the way down, and tried to fit it in the chair.

It was too long, of course, so I turned down the edges thinner, and then trimmed them again, getting it in the chair, as you can see at the top in the first picture.

Now it’s time to stain it. I glued it in first so it would be in there, and I’ll work on the stain this week.