Building a tiny chair
In the midst of building a tiny room for a photo shoot, it became apparent that I needed an anchor piece of furniture. After a good deal of internet research, procrastination and then more internet research, I found myself making a one-third scale mid-century modern chair.
I chose this particular chair for a few reasons. One, I thought I could make it. Two, unlike some bulky upholstered chairs, you can see through this one in places, and I thought that might create some interesting shadows. Finally, it's just a cool chair.
I collected lots of photos online of similar chairs and designed my own blueprints. I reduced all the measurements by a third and printed templates. It would have been great to use walnut or cherry, but I ended up just grabbing some red oak from Lowes. Total cost for materials was about twenty bucks.
Anyway, I'll tell the rest of the story via photos. Long story short, I built a tiny chair.
The raw lumber. My wood-shaping tools include a table saw, router and jigsaw.
I used a table saw for most of the big cuts, building jigs like this one to cut angles (and hopefully not fingers).
I used a jigsaw for other cuts like this, which sanded down to fairly nice curves.
All of the main pieces cut and labelled.
I can't overstate how important it was to get every angle just right. I was only using glue to connect the pieces, and unless each joint is perfectly flush, it fails. Fortunately careful math and precision paid off.
Here's the first side, all glued up. I left some excess wood around the joints thinking they'd clean up better if I treated them as a single piece of wood. Not sure this was the best route, but it kind of worked.
The back of the chair has vertical pieces that are round and flare out in the middle. I started with a jigsaw for the raw cuts then sanded down by hand.
The finished pieces. I kept the best seven and discarded the bad one. There's always a bad one.
Interesting tidbit: it's hard to drill a perfectly-positioned hole with a handheld power drill. On the left is my first attempt. I re-cut a piece of wood and created a complicated jig to hold the drill to the wood and made the piece on the right, which is good enough.
Here's the back of the chair all glued up. Everything fit so well I think the glue wasn't even necessary.
The whole chair is put together for a loose fitting. Everything looks good.
The final gluing. I didn't want to use clamps and risk over-tightening something or messing up the alignment, so I just carefully stacked some things on the chair as the glue dried.
It was such a joy to set the chair on its legs for the first time and see that all four legs touched.
The cushions were tough, and I might remake them some rainy day. I built a foam core box, wrapped it in paper to smooth out the edges, then glued on pieces of an old t-shirt to add some padding. Then I carefully wrapped the final piece of fabric and glued it on the bottom. It's not great. The upper cushion is worse, as I didn't smooth out the corners enough.
I stained the chair and finished with a semi-gloss clear coat. In hindsight, I should have given it a darker stain to hide the grain, since the grain is not to scale. But it's not bad.
So that's my tiny chair. I'm making a tiny matching end table to go with it, but it's not done yet. I think I'm going to make a tiny desk lamp, too. Then maybe a tiny couch. And a tiny cat.