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.


  1. Just a tip - If you web the seat on the top of the frame (rather than from underneath, as you have here), you save on materials (padding) and it's much stronger structurally. Attaching the webbing underneath increases the chance of the bottom falling out if someone sits down hard. Also, standard practice is to fold the raw edge of the webbing under so that it doesn't fray, so you basically cut the webbing an inch past the staples, fold in half, then fold again (hiding the raw edge) and staple on top. Love to see people do it themselves - bravo!

  2. Hey Andrew, thanks! That person is me! Actually, I have springs to add to the chair, so I had to web it on the bottom to fit the springs in. Oh, excellent tip on the webbing! I've never seen it that way, and none of the stuff I've read says that, but it would definitely be neater. I hate how the webbing frays! Perfect, thanks. :)