Welcome! Forums General Woodworking Discussions Projects Reproduction of an Old Chair

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    Matt McGrane

    I have (in storage) a dining table and six chairs that my grandparents bought when they were first married in 1920. Six or seven years ago I disassembled the captain’s chair because it was getting fairly rickety and my intention was that someday I would rebuild it anew. Thanks to the skills I’ve gained from this website and Paul’s instruction – particularly from the dining chair project – I was finally able to do it.

    The chair is made from poplar, as I believe the original was. It’s got many curves which made it challenging. It also has details that I’ve never tried before and I had to devise a way to create them. The original chair was put together with dowels, many of which were pinned with small nails, but I used mortise and tenon throughout. The finish routine started with shellac, then two coats of a stain, two coats of polyurethane and then paste wax. Maybe my version will last 100 years, like the originals.

    For anyone who wants to read more about this build, you can read about it on my blog at “https://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/” in the October and November 2016 entries entitled “Nana’s Dining Chair Rebuild”, Parts 1-7.

    And for anyone who gets frustrated with their woodwork, believe me: the skills accumulate and with practice, you can do so much that you might never have thought possible. This stuff is awesome!

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016: http://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/

    Peter George

    That’s impressive Matt! Well done.

    Peter in
    Biggar SK
    "New York is big, but this is Biggar"


    Terrific job Matt, I think you’ve improved greatly on the original.

    David B

    That really came together nicely, Matt. Nice to see the final project with the decorative work you did with the plough tool you made.

    Question though: You put on shellac BEFORE you stained it? Does that slow/prevent any stain absorption?

    Beautiful chair.

    Thomas Angle

    Nice looking chair.

    Arbovale, WV

    Proverbs 18:13
    13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

    Derek Long

    Down the rabbit hole you go, Matt. I think you’re addicted to chair-making. Nice work.

    Derek Long
    Denver, Colorado

    Matt McGrane

    Hey, thanks a lot everybody. I really appreciate the comments.

    – David, the shellac is supposed to seal the wood so that you get a more even stain. Some woods, including this poplar, can show areas of different stain absorption, often called blotching. The shellac is supposed to even out the follow-up stain coat. In retrospect, I think I should have used at least one more coat of shellac because there was still some blotching.

    – Hi Derek. I used to think that if you can make chairs, then you can make just about anything. Not sure if that’s really true, but it sounds good. Chairs are really challenging, but so rewarding. They satisfy one of the most basic needs of humans – taking a load off those tired feet!

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016: http://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/

    Mike I

    Very impressive work. Well done!

    Richard Guggemos

    Congratulations and wow!

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