Tuesday, August 11

Industrial Chair Makeover

We've seen many dining chairs come and go during our few years in this house. We started with folding chairs, then upgraded to a pair of $3 yard sale chairs, followed by a a set of four hand-me-down chairs (that never made the blog. oops.). We loved the set of four for it's style (and as we've grown to a family of four we needed it!) but they were pretty old and decrepid. One chair broke completely and the remaining three were constantly in need of some repair or other. So when I came across another set of yard sale chairs for just $1.50 each I decided it was time for another switch!

I found the chairs at a church rummage sale, and they were actually some of their old classroom chairs. We looked through the whole stack to find four that were in the best shape with no big cracks, gouges, or broken feet. We hauled our prize home where it sat on our patio for approximately nine months collecting spider webs. *facepalm* Why do I do this to myself? Why? Once I finally got started it took just a couple hours of total work time to sand, stain, and paint. So again we learn the DIY lesson - JUST GET IT OVER WITH. Here's how I did it....

I may never figure out how to get a good picture in front of this window. Sorry, guys.

BUT WAIT! Did you think I forgot the before picture? Not this time.... BOOM.

I know, it's not much to look at. I think one of the hardest things when I'm yard-sale shopping for furniture is seeing the potential. When it came to these guys I loved the wood/metal combo and the curved lines, but I still wasn't totally convinced. It was the kind of purchase where you think "Well, it's going to cost $6 for the whole set. So if I hate it, it's okay."

I started by sanding down the seats and backs with our beloved random orbit sander (one of our most used tools!) to bring them down to raw wood like in the picture above. It was a little tricky getting the curve of the back completely sanded. In the picture below you can see some darker tan patches still hanging out. It's important to get rid of even little smudgy spots like that because they will show up when you stain it! The black streak is a gouge that I didn't sand all the way out because the chairs are made of plywood and I didn't want to risk sanding all the way through the outer layer. 

Then it was time to stain. I decided to completely finish one chair before tackling the rest since I wasn't sure I would even like it when I was done. I tried an espresso stain at first but it was too dark so I sanded it back off. Next up was Minwax Dark Walnut that fit the bill. I brushed it on, let it sit a minute, then wiped off the excess with a paper towel.

Once that was dry, I finished the wood with two coats of water-based polyurethane. I use the cheap natural fiber brushes from Lowes that are around $1 each. After the first coat I used a very fine sandpaper to smooth out any tiny bubbles before applying the second coat.

The next job was painting all the metal. I started by using painters tape and garbage bags to completely cover the wood seat and back, leaving only the metal exposed. Here's the back:

And here's the bottom. I didn't worry about the middle of the bottom since it will never be seen.

I used a fine sandpaper to rough up the metal just a little then wiped off any dust. Then it was time to spray paint! I started with oil rubbed bronze... and when I pulled the tape off, again I didn't like my first choice. So I re-taped everything and painted over it with a satin black.

So. Much. Better.

I really like how the back turned out. Here's the before:

And the after:

Once the first chair was done, I liked it! So I tackled the other three. After a side-by-side comparison shot, of course.

They were done in (almost) no time. We mixed up our style this time with an industrial vibe thanks to the combination of metal and wood. And so far we've been loving it.

And that's how we ended up with an industrial set of dining chairs for just $6.

And this is how two little boys had tons of fun while I worked on it.

What furniture have you made over lately? Anyone else working on chairs?

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