Easy Shop Chair from Construction Materials

After my son and I made his miniature Nicholson Bench, I had a fair amount of 2×12 and other 2x material left over.  You could make this chair from a single 10 foot long 2×12.  I wanted to keep the build simple by using only 3 power tools (as mentioned on The Dusty Life podcast) so I kept the joinery simple and used only the circular saw, cordless drill/driver, and a 6″ random orbital sander.  However, those were not the ONLY tools I used.  I have a tendency to over complicate things such as the joinery between the seat and the legs.  I could have just used a ledger with screws to hold the seat in place but I wanted to make a dado as you will see in the video.  The goal for this chair was to learn angles and how to make a comfortable chair from a combination of geometry and sizing.

If you choose to make this chair I would change one thing: cut a radius the front of the arms for your hands to rest and/or make the top of arms slope down from back to front to allow your arms to rest naturally.  For me this chair was to serve a single purpose in my shop and that was to replace the old and very uncomfortable stool I sat on while recording The Dusty Life podcast.

Here are a few shots of the model I followed.  For the seat, I set it sloped at about 8 degrees and put 1-1/2″ taper on the sides from front to back so the rear legs sat closer together and the chair was not as boxy.  The back edge of the chair had a 3 degree bevel cut to allow the chair back to register at that angle to the seat during assembly.  The side edges of the chair back had bevel cuts to match the seat taper so the arms matched the sides of the chair back as well.  You can use all the parts from the chair to register your cuts accordingly.  There really was no measuring once I cut the seat to shape.  Everything was measured from that component.

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Overall size
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The important dimensions
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The back details
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A view from the front
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A view from the top
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DIY Pallet Wood Stool with Downloadable Plan

It has been a year since my last pallet project.  For the past 3 years Sterling Davis hosts an event titled the “Pallet Upcycle Challenge” and this is my second time being involved.  For more info on Sterling’s event click here.

Plans are available in the sidebar in exchange for a donation amount of your choice.

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Since that first project, here, I had acquired several pallets and I needed to thin the herd.  I found a few different quick projects that I thought would be a good way to part with some of them.  One of which was this stool.  I liked the simplicity of it and seeing that I needed a better stool for my shop it would make a great temporary addition until I can make my Rush Seat Stool.

To get started with this project I had to break down a pallet.  Because this stool only used smaller parts I was able to cut the thin slats from the pallet supports with a jig saw.  These pieces were just over 19″ long.  The nails were pulled from the three thicker supports to ensure no damage to my power tool blades.

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Each slat then had an edge cleaned up at the table saw with a taper sled.  This allowed me to get a decent cut at the miter saw to cut the pieces to final length.  Then I ripped a taper on each let part.  4 pieces had a 1/2″ foot and a 2-1/2″ top and the other 4 pieces had a 1″ foot and a 3″ top.  This is because the pieces are 1/2″ thick and when they are butt jointed to form a leg they will look symmetric.

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The seat pieces were cleaned in the same fashion and edge glued to make a panel.  The legs were glued at the same time to cut down on the time wasted waiting for glue to dry as these 5 pieces were the only parts that were glued.

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To keep everything as square as possible during assembly (which is nearly impossible to do with non milled pallet wood) I made 2 sub assemblies with the top stretchers, or aprons, and 2 legs.  The aprons were positioned with the legs, pre-drilled, and nailed together with the pallet nails that I sharpened points on to help with the driving in.

When the legs were complete it was time to get a measurement for the other 2 aprons.  I did this by setting the 2 leg assemblies upside down on the seat and positioning them so there was a slight overhang on the seat.  Then I took the measurement and cut the pieces at the miter saw.  There were attached in the same fashion as the other stretchers this time using shorter nails as I was driving them into the sides of the aprons instead of the ends as done prior.

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With the 2 legs now connected I could now cut the lower stretchers.  This is just as simple as the aprons.  Take the measurement, cut to length, pre-drill, nail into place.  The only trick is to place them high enough on the legs so the but joints are hidden behind the legs.  This position is entirely dependent on the severity of the leg taper.  Mine had to be about 6-1/4″ from the bottom.

Not attach the seat.  It is as simple as placing it into position so the overhang is equal around the base, pre-drilling, and driving the nails in 4 corners.  Now you have a functional stool though it is going to be really rough as nothing has been sanded yet.  Do that now using 80-100 paper on a sander of your choice.  I used 100 grit on a random orbit sander and sanded for about 25 minutes.

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The surface could be sanded further if you like the plain wood look, which would have been nice as I had a good looking quarter saw piece of oak on the seat, or do as I did and whitewash, paint, or stain the stool for a different look altogether.  I used General Finishes Whitewash mixed with Vintage Cherry, Orange, and Medium Brown dye stains for added subtle color.  Once the wash was mixed I daubed and brushed it on with a sponge brush.  When mixing these colors on a surface it is best to use long strokes of each color overlapping the next then allowing it to dry.  This makes the colors blend and look like the piece had been painted several times over the years.

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With a 150 sanding disc on the random orbit sander I sanded through the wash to reveal wood beneath and broke the edges of the seat, legs, and stretchers even more.  This gives the stool an old worn appearance.

Finally the stool was given a good coat of Minwax Polycrylic water borne finish.  I like this finish the best for reclaimed wood indoor projects as it retains the natural wood look without darkening over time.  Also, the whitewash is water based and I didn’t want to use a topcoat of an oil based finish.  Just my preference really.

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After it has good time to cure I then lightly wipe the surface with 400 paper to smooth it out and it is ready for it’s photo finish.

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Brass Chisel Hammer

 

IMG_8317A couple weeks ago I won this (above) brass mallet on eBay.  I really like the old, mushroomed faces, wear marks, and the patina on the brass.  The only thing wrong with it was the steel rod handle.  The solution: contact a local machinist to remove the handle and bore a 1/2″ through hole for a new handle tenon and a 3/16″ hole for a pin.  Costs: $17.33 for the mallet with shipping and $5 for the machinist (I gave him $10).  Total cost of $27.33.  Not bad considering brass rod retails for about $15/inch for this size.

With the holes bored i needed to choose a handle style.  While in Atlanta for The Woodworking Show, I went to Highland Woodworking (Highland Hardware) and saw David Barron’s Chisel Hammer.  I’ll admit to lust and covetousness for this inanimate object but the $74 price tag was a strong enough deterrent.   Loaded with that style in my memory, with the help of Google Images as a refresher, I sought a worthy wood species to compliment the aged mallet.  Enter a scrap piece of air dried walnut left over from me stool build 2 years ago.

Turning the handle was a straight forward process.  The blank was mounted between centers and turned with a spindle gouge and parting tool.  2 simple but necessary tools to have with the lathe.

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After the shape was finalized and sanded to 320, I used my Stanley Yankee push drill to bore a small through to prevent the wedge from splitting the wood.

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I then removed the blank and cut the handle from the waste.  Using my Dozuki Z-Saw I cut the slot for the Ebony wedge.

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This should be a substantial slot for the wedge to easily fit into with some coercion.  If you choose to glue in a wedge, remember to only glue one side to allow for wood movement.  If you glue both sides, one glue joint will surely split as the wood expands and contracts throughout the seasons and changes in humidity.

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Next a 3/16″ hole is drilled through the side of the tenon and a brass rod is hammered through.

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Cut the excess rod off leaving 1/16″ proud on each side to be rounded with a ball peen hammer.

The final step was to apply the finish.  I chose Dark Walnut Danish Oil to blend the light and dark grain yet accentuate the natural curl and figure in this piece of walnut.  When that was dry I rubbed and buffed in some of the Beeswax polish that I made in a previous post.  The handle has a nice satin finish and the color of the walnut compliments the patina on the brass wonderfully, in my opinion (which is all that matters here).