As we were preparing for our move, I was in major purge mode. I was sending things to Goodwill and the dump like it was my job. My old kitchen chairs were on the “Do Not Move” list. I was determined not to let them make the cut. My husband, Matt, kept shooting this one down. Every time I’d move them to the get-rid-of-area, he’d scoot them back. I’d take them to the carport to haul away and he’d slip them into his office.
One Saturday, I started working on my new craft desk. I look over and I see Matt pulling out the kitchen chairs. My heart lept, “Ah finally he’s getting rid of these things!” Then he started tinkering. I have been asking him to make me a bench for years. When he pulled this thing together I was stunned. Not only did he repurpose our old kitchen chairs but I think he created something really special – the bench I had always wanted.
I wanted to share with you the basics of how he did it, so you can repurpose some chairs of your own!
Matt started by removing the cushions from the chairs. As with most of the projects we do, our little helpers wanted to give us a hand.
We then lined up the three chairs that were in the best shape. In order to have arm rests on the ends of the bench, we used the two arm chairs that traditionally sit at the end of the table. Matt removed one arm from each chair to “open up” the bench.
He then squared up the chairs. Our chairs have a nice square front, whereas they have a bit of a funky curve in the back. I know a lot of chairs have more rounded legs and features that could make it difficult for the chairs to sit flush together. This is where you will need to do a little problem solving and get creative. Susan from FrouFruGal created a Chair Bench with her husband. Her tutorial inspired Matt and they have some great steps on squaring up and connecting the chairs.
Using wood glue and C-Clamps Matt attached the front legs together. Once the legs were glued he then sunk a few deck screws into the legs for more support.
C-Clamp Tip: To get the most out of your C-Clamp connections you want them to be really tight. This however can create some indentations in your wood from the clamps. To avoid scuffing up your projects, use some scrap wood or even slip some thick cardboard in between your clamps and your project.
We decided this bench was going to go in the foyer at our new house. Inside the foyer you see our stair case with the black wrought iron stair spindles. Instead of going with the silver bars on the chairs we wanted them to be black to tie in with the staircase. While the glue was setting on the legs we used painters tape to wrap a portion of the chairs and spray painted the rods.
We had some Pine 1×4’s laying around from other projects that we used for the bench. Matt measured them to hang over the front edge by one inch and over the side by two inches.
He used deck screws and screwed the boards directly into the chair frame. If you want the screws to disappear from your design, make sure to sink them in a little deeper than the surface of the wood. Depending on the power of your drill and softness of the wood this may be easy. However, if you pre-drill your screw holes with a small drill bit, this helps in sinking the screws deeper.
As you can see, Matt also cut a small notch in one of the boards so that it could fit around the arm rest.
Because the front legs were square they were easy to attach and secure. As I mentioned, the backs of the chairs and the legs have some curve in their design. We knew the bench boards would provide support for the whole piece by securing the chairs together even more. Regardless, Matt wasn’t satisfied with the back having no other attached support. (Can you tell he’s a perfectionist?) He created two pieces like the one you see below to add some reinforcement in the gaps. Again, they were secured with deck screws into the frames of the chairs.
Once all the boards were attached, he went back and filled the screw holes with carpenter’s wood filler.
I decorated them with some of my pillows and placed three baskets underneath. This is the “Drop Spot” for the kids as they come and go from the house. It’s been incredibly helpful getting them to have a pair of tennis shoes and sandals in these baskets. Rather than wrestling them to go back upstairs and find shoes, this helps us to get out of the door faster in the mornings.