Benches made from chairs are all over Pinterest. I wanted something fun for our front porch, so when I had the chance to buy some BEAUTIFUL chairs from my niece and hubby grouched about wood not weathering well outside, I was just a little crushed. He softened the blow with the promise that if I could find some heavy wrought iron chairs, he would buy them and help me make a bench.
I finally found "the chairs" on craigslist and bought them from the nicest man. He said they needed some seats and a fresh coat of paint but I saw perfection! Six chairs meant I could have two really great size benches.
We got them home and I couldn't wait to get started. They were each a little unique (tiny bit taller, shorter, arms bent a little different on each) so we put them together in various ways until we found what we liked.
Then Bob used a piece of foam board to make a seat pattern from one chair frame. From the foam board pattern he made a full size pattern on butcher paper. He used the butcher paper to trace out the seats on 3/4-inch plywood.
After Bob cut the seats out, he coated both sides of the plywood with urethane sealant. We knew we wanted outdoor UV fabric for the cushions but he wanted to make sure the wood would hold up well if water soaked through the fabric when the benches got rained on.
On each bench Bob removed the arms on the middle chair and the inside arms on the edge chairs. Then he attached the seat. With the seat attached he was ready to weld the chairs together. We decided that the best look would be if the lines on the chair back continued unbroken.
We already had some rod that matched the smaller rod swirls on the back. The top and bottom rung of the chair backs were larger. At Home Depot he found 5/8-inch concrete anchor bolts. They were the perfect size and reasonably priced. He welded the chair backs together continuing the original lines which helped the bench feel more solid.
I was pretty unsure of the spaces between the chairs at this point. I felt like they looked like three chairs connected together but then Bob gave them a nice coat of paint. Since they were welded together we were able to remove the seat for this.
Now it was time for the cushion and the fabric. We spent way to much time looking for fabric that we liked, was meant for outdoors, and was reasonably priced. Finally we settled on some with a large paisley pattern at Hobby Lobby. Yea for the 40% off coupon! I got a great deal on the foam padding at a local upholstery retail store because it had been cut wrong and had some fading on it.
We placed the seats on the foam padding and traced around them. I wish I had taken a picture of how it was cut because it's funny and easy. We always use an electric knife (you know the kind you use to cut turkey at Thanksgiving). We bought one years ago just for projects. it cost about $10 at the grocery store. We have used it for several years. It cuts upholstery foam like a dream.
Moving on to the fabric; we used a compass with a sharpie in it. We left about four inches all the way around. Before we cut into the good fabric, we used an old sheet and it took forever but Brainy Bob figured out the best way to upholster around the inside curves. You can see his sharpie lines for the cuts on the good fabric
He also cut two 4-inch strips of fabric to help with the inside curves.
The main fabric was cut and the strip of fabric was pinned to it (right sides together)
After it was sewn together the strip of fabric becomes a flab that will allow the cover to conform to the shape of the bench.
The flap folds around the padding and wood. The main fabric can fold under before it is also folded around the padding and wood.
Time to start the sandwich; fabric first, foam padding next then the wood seat.
Below is a great picture of how the flap works. It comes from underneath the main fabric (because the flap was sewn to the fabric right sides together) and wraps around the padding and seat.
The flap is stapled to the seat.
Since the main fabric was not cut away Bob was able to fold it back to create a finished edge before he stapled it to the seat.
Then tons of staples. We decided there were more staples then wood or fabric in this project.
Everything was pulled tight in all directions and stapled down.
The seats have tabs on them. After Bob cut the board out at the beginning of this process he installed T-nuts in the holes he drilled to correspond with the seat tabs.
|Above is a picture of the chair tabs and the T-nuts that were |
pounded into the seat after the holes were drilled to match the tabs.
Hmm all of the drilled holes were covered by fabric so we had to search for them and make a sharpie mark.
Then Bob cut away the fabric and stapled around the exposed edges
Finally the bench seats were ready to be attached to the "bench frame"
Here is one bench placed (morning sun)