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Rustic Pub Chairs

February 26, 2018 Leave a comment

Chairs for Club Cardinal

I had barely setup Susan’s new pub table on the front porch when it was pointed out to me that the chairs we had intended to use were too short. It turns out they were counter top height chairs (seat at 24″)  not high top height chairs (seat at 30″). I was going to “solve” this problem using the avoidance technique but guest after guest would politely suggest that I, “should get Susan some taller chairs”.  So…. I hunted around to see if there was any safe way to raise the existing chairs by  3 or 4″ but short of welding on leg extensions, I didn’t like of the solutions I saw. So I hunted for an easy build and came up with a plan from DIY Projects with Pete. (Thanks Pete!)

DIY Pete Bar Stools

Build Notes on Pete’s Plan

If you are interested in obtaining these free plans for yourself, you can click on the photo above. The main alteration for my build was in the choice of material. Pete used 2×4 red cedar for its rustic appearance and weather resistance. I’m in Florida and although it appeared that I could purchase this lumber at my home center, it was going to be almost 3 times that Pete quoted for his project. I fell back to good ‘ole Southern Yellow Pine (SYP) as my lumber choice. It would be more work, but I would mill up 10′ – 2×10’s which would cost me about the same as one red cedar 2×4. Each 10′ SYP 2×10 would yield 4,  5’-2×4’s. I would rip of each leaving the center pith for fire wood.

The PDF version of the plan called for  one box of 2 1/2 Kreg Screws ($6) and I should note that you will need 48 screws per chair so if you are making 4 of them, you will need a box of 250 screws ($20) not the $6 box of 50. I didn’t compute this on my first shopping trip. (on the website Pete links to Amazon and the qty 250 box).

Also on the PDF the cut list, each of the various items were listed as quantity 6 which only applies to the 6 “short” pieces of each chair. The website appears to correctly list the quantity of each cut. There was no mention in the plans about which cuts and how many pieces should be taken from each of the 4- 2×4’s so I used a free cut list program (Cut List v4.1.12) to help me. This was helpful especially as I was milling my own lumber. Although I started by thinking the cut list through, the plan went wonky as I rough cut the 2×10’s outside with a circular saw before bringing them inside for further milling. I likely wasted a little lumber by not knowing exactly how long to rough cut each piece. I did mark them as I rough cut them but this was followed by the “fog of shop-work” and no doubt I mixed up pieces.

Milling up SYP into 2x4's

A lot of work later, I had the majority of the chair pieces milled up. I wasn’t yet worried about the actual seat material as I really wanted to just get building. I left them at 3 1/2″ width but reduced their thickness just a little mostly to remove grunge and clean up the faces. If you decide to thickness your lumber, the actual dimension doesn’t matter but you probably should thickness all of your stock for a consistent look. You don’t have to go that way but it will make aligning parts more straightforward. Seat material can be any thickness, just make sure you take this in to account when planning your seat height. Also be mindful that your pocket-hole screws (and other screws) are for 1 1/2″ stock so if you mill thinner you must plan your joinery accordingly.

Chair "ladder" fronts and back pieces.

Building the Ladders

Another builders note that I would like to add is the difficulty which I had keeping the pieces aligned while driving the pocket-hole screws home. In Pete’s video, it appears as though he simply has the pieces laid on his workbench and screws them in one at a time. He mentions that you can use clamps as needed to help with the process. I started by marking, then aligning the center pieces and clamping the entire structure together with 3 long F-clamps. The problem I had been that, try as I might, the faces of the two pieces never ended up flush to one another. I could keep the pieces from moving side to side, but could not for the life of me, keep them flush. The glue wasn’t helping.

Chair back "ladders" joined.

By the time, I was putting together the 3 ladder back, I decided to change my method. What worked for me was to first mark, then point the first stile upward (center up). I would then apply glue to the end grain of the first piece and clamp it in to position with several F-clamps. This not only kept it aligned but also made it impossible to shift forward as I drove the screw home. I noticed that it also helped to drive the screw slowly and not ram it as the screw bottomed out. In fact if I stopped before the bottom, I could usually get the other screw seated without anything shifting. If this sounds complicated I would sum it up with, “clamp it hard, drive it gently”. To make clamping the center (rail) pieces easy, I placed an F-clamps on either end of the stile to keep it oriented, leaving both hands free to join each rail.

Rinse and Repeat

The chair fronts (small ladders) were built in a similar manner to the backs. I continued to both improve my clamping alignment, while at the same time attempting to simplify it. I also purchased some shorter screws, 2″ versus the 2 ½”. I think it was a combination of my pocket-hole depth and the thickness of my milled stock but I had screw tips coming through my show face on far too many occasions. Don’t make the mistake I did and use your hand plane with screws just under the surface. Not good and I basically had to rehab my sole and the blade to put it back in surface. Not happy about that one 😦

Assembly

Assembling the chairs required connecting the front and back ladders with 4 stretchers. The method I used was to attach the 4 stretchers to the front ladder first. I then took both pieces to my table saw using the table as a known flat surface. Rather than lining up the parts, I favored lining up the feet as a priority so that the chair wouldn’t rock. This meant some of the stretchers didn’t line up perfectly but this was my choice. Using two long F-clamps on both sides of the chair I made sure the feet were set, then carefully glued and screwed the two pieces together.

Finish

Completed Pub Chair Completed Pub Chair

Well, I’ve been busy but Susan finally decided to paint them orange (Persimmon) so my plan is to put on two coats of color and then a clear top coat. Meanwhile, we’ll use them in their “natural state”.