Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Parlour Chair Makeover: Prepping the Frame & Applying Jute Webbing

Last week I picked up a chair from from a guy in Fowler's Corners on one of my trips to Peterborough.  It looked like someone had started the chair as a DIY project and then lost steam (What?  I have no idea what that looks like!)  They'd completely stripped down the chair and succeeded in stripping off half of the original finish, but that was it.  That being said, that's still a lot of work!  I snapped up the frame for $25 and tossed it into the car.

When I got back to the workshop, I stripped off the rest of the lacquer and peeling finish and gave it a good sanding by hand.   As per usual, I forgot to take a real "before" the above will have to do.

 I wasn't sure how I was going to refinish the wood, but after the sanding I realised it wasn't in the greatest shape to stain and seal, so I opted to give it an aged look with an all natural homemade stain and some dry brushing with latex paint.

The paint dried very quickly as it soaked into the wood and once it was dry I brushed on a quick coat of Miss Mustard Seed's clear furniture wax.  I buffed it, and then threw the frame in the car again.

It's so easy to toss a chair around when it ain't nothin' but a frame!

The next day I applied a second coat of wax and gave it a good buffing.  That's when I realised I should snap some photos!  In the close ups of the arms you can see the dry brushing's easy to do and give a weathered and worn look which was perfect for this old and beat up frame.

The next step was to apply new jute webbing to the chair.  The burlap will support the springs in the chair's seat as well as the foam and fabric for the back.

I was able to put my DIY Gooseneck Webbing Stretcher to good use for this part.  It's working like a charm so far and I don't have any complaints.

For an excellent tutorial on applying webbing to a chair frame, check out Studio Swiss's online tutorial. It gives you all the info you need, plus a Swiss accent!  You should probably eat it while eating some Lindt chocolate.  Probably for the best.

I find the stretching of the jute webbing fairly straightforward.  You just want to be certain that your webbing is well-spaced and centred (I didn't do an excellent job of that here...always room to improve!), and that the webbing is pulled very taut - it should sound a bit like a drum.

The webbing on the seat needs to be more substantial than the webbing on the back of the chair.  The seat webbing will support the springs and weight of an individual, whereas the webbing in the back will get less strenuous wear and is mostly needed to offer some back support and to act as a foundation for the foam and fabric.

Stay tuned for the next installment where I'll sew in and tie my springs and get the seat ready for upholstering.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

DIY Gooseneck Webbing Stretcher

I like to save money where I can.  I'm focusing more on upholstery these days and one of the necessary tools you'll need if you're going to be rebuilding furniture is a webbing stretcher.  There are different versions of this tool, but the most user-friendly version looks like this:

This is a gooseneck webbing stretcher by CS Osborne & Co, the muckity mucks of upholstery.  And while this version even bears my maiden name (can you see it?), I just couldn't part with the $40 - $60 it was going to cost me to order one of these online. 

I found a version like this at a local Fabricland for $37, but still....I couldn't justify it and I felt like there had to be a better way! 

Usually searching online for DIY or 'make your own' versions of things yields lots of options, but in this case, not so much.  It took a couple of searches before I found this eHow article on How to Make A Webbing Stretcher which was somewhat helpful, but devoid of pictures. 

Then I came across this weird french anime DIY blog which had a couple of pictures.  There was also another foreign language site with a couple of other pictures, but I cannot for the life of me find it to share with you now. 

So, with a little scrap wood, some nails and screws I had on hand, and an old paint roller, I came up with this:

Not too shabby, right?  True, it's not going to last forever, it certainly doesn't have the durability of the $60 models above, but this one cost me NOTHING and will serve my purposes for the moment, so I say it's a win! 

Here's what you'll need:

Block of scrap wood approx. 4"x4" (I used pine, it's soft and easy to bang the nails into)
Wood Glue
4d or similar nails
1/2 inch screws
Old paint roller handle
Power Drill & Drill Bit
Rubber, thick material, leather, or foam scrap
Staple Gun
Hand chisel & Hammer

I cut my scrap of wood to the dimension I needed with my jigsaw.  I didn't measure it, just guesstimated the size I needed based on the width of my jute webbing. 

Then I used a wire cutter (or tin snips) to cut the heads off of 14 nails.  Maybe wear protective eyewear for this step, those little heads can fly! 

Using my awl, I punched starter holes into the pine block.  I put seven nails in the first row and seven in the back row, but I staggered their placement.  I put a dob of wood glue onto the hole made by the awl before knocking in the headless nails (pointy ends up, headless ends down!).  Yes, the heads get a bit dinged, but you don't need them super-sharp anyway.  With the wood glue they feel very sturdy. 

Then I chose a drill bit that matched the width of my paint roller handle.  I drilled a hole into the wood about an inch and a half from the top of the wood with the nails in it.  Your measurement for where to place the hole could be different, it will depend on how your paint roller handle is shaped.  If you take a look at my first picture, you'll see there's a bend in the handle which sits about 1/2 an inch below the start of the wood...aim for something like this and drill your hole accordingly.   

You're drilling a hold to push the roller-holding part of the paint roller handle into the wood.   I used a small 2 inch roller so that the roller wouldn't extend beyond my wood.  You should, too! 

After drilling the hole, I used a chisel to chip away a divot/groove below the hole.  This is for the arm of the handle - to help it lay flat against the wood. 

I filled the hole with wood glue and then bashed my roller handle into the hole and kept bashing the handle until it laid mostly flat into the groove. 

Then I placed 5, 1/2 inch screws into the wood to add extra holding power to the handle.  Larger head screws would be ideal here, but I just used what I had on hand. 

The final step was adding my protective piece of rubber (I actually used a strip from an old non-slip, foam type mat) to the top of the wood.  I'd say you need about a 3"-31/2" long  by 2 1/2" wide piece of rubber or thick material or leather for this.  You want to use this to pad the top of the stretcher because this is the part of the stretcher that comes in contact with the frame of the furniture piece you are upholstering, and you don't want to mark the frame (especially if it is a visible, outer part of the frame!).   The foam I used isn't what I'd recommend, I'd recommend rubber if you can find it, but again, this is what I had on hand and can be replaced. 

I centred the foam and then stapled it down with my staple gun.  Et voila!  A free, make your own webbing stretcher! 

She ain't pretty, but she can help you do this:


And in case you're wondering, care of my new idol (and girl crush!), Amanda Brown of Spruce Upholstery in Austin, Texas this is how you use a gooseneck webbing stretcher:

And if you've dabble a bit in DIY upholstery and are looking for more info, teaching and lots of awesome pictures, I highly recommend Amanda's book, Spruce: A Step By Step Guide to Upholstery and Design

Happy stretching!