Make A French-Style Bench From Old Chairs by Elizabeth L - Musely
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Make A French-Style Bench From Old Chairs

posted in Home & Garden
06/07/2014
  • Before throwing those broken chairs you have been keeping for some time, consider making them into these stunning French styled bench. This new chair can definitely add another dimension to your home not to mention the added area where you can accommodate guests.

  • Step One: Find Two Chairs

    Look for chairs that look good from the side. Chairs that have a slight curve to them are best. The backs need to be one piece from the top down to the back legs. Also think about the height of the chair backs (ours are 16″ from the top of the bench seat) and if they have a cross-piece spanning the back legs where the wood for the seat can easily be attached.

  • Remove the front legs and seats. These knock-off Duncan Phyfe chair seats were held on by four screws. The legs were falling off and just pulled apart – the glue no longer held the dowels tightly.

  • Step Two: Create The Bench Seat

    Make a rectangle box the length you’d like the bench to be and secure the ends with two wood screws each, as pictured above (ours was 36″ x 12″). Use a sturdy hardwood and long screws (3.5″ screws on each corner) to make the box as immovable as you can. We salvaged the wood for our box from a portion of an Ikea oak countertop we didn’t need when we remodeled our bathroom. Brian cut the sides into 1″x 2-1/4″ pieces.

  • Attached the box to each chair back by screwing from the chair into the short ends of the box. It’s hard to see in the above picture, but the dark slat of wood is the part of the chair back that the original seat was attached to. Brian drilled holes and then used three screws spaced evenly across this slat to securely hold the ends of the box to the backs

  • He also drilled through the legs of the chair to be able to insert two 3″ screws into the box from the back of each leg- for a total of seven screws on each end. Whew- you can probably guess why I’m emphasizing secure at this point- our whole goal was to actually be able to sit on the bench!

  • Step Three: Create A Bottom Shelf

    Even after making the seat bench as secure as possible, the bench was still too wobbly for anyone to sit on, so Brian made another box – this one is smaller and made from stock pine 1″x2″s. He carefully measured each piece, attaching first the long pieces to the chair legs and then the short pieces to the ends of the long pieces (clear as mud? Hopefully the picture above helps clarify!), as opposed to the first box, which was made first and then attached (our measurements: 12 3/4″ x 41 1/8″ – so it fit exactly between the legs as they curved).

  • Again, use the longest screw you can without going through to the front of the legs.
    Make a “top” for the shelf using flat molding. We didn’t want the heavy look of a full plywood top, so we used some 3/4″ x 1″ molding we had. It’s the kind that is flat on one side and has rounded edges on the top (sorry, I’m not sure of the name of it- or even what we used it for originally!). Brian just measured, cut, and used small finish nails to attach them to the top of the shelf, 7″ apart on center. They probably would’ve looked more finished if they were set into the shelf (rather than sitting on top),

  • Step Four: Fill Holes And Paint

    Fill all the holes with wood filler, allow to dry and then sand them smooth, as well as all of the surfaces to prepare them for paint. You may have noticed from the pictures that Brian put many large holes into the bench in his effort to make it sturdy. He does this whenever he makes something because he knows I’m the “queen of putty” around here and can usually fill whatever he sends my way. We’re pretty much a team that way. It also helps that our mantra is “cottage = imperfect.” {wink}

  • Paint the bench. You probably should start with a primer, but I didn’t {gasp}. I used my nifty new paint sprayer and put three light coats on of my favorite color – Behr’s Creamy White.

    Step Five: Make Plywood Seat Top

    Cut a piece of 1/2″ plywood to sit on top of the bench.

  • Cover the plywood with quilt batting (cut about an inch bigger than the wood) and your choice of material- cut at least two inches bigger all around than the top. Turn the raw edges of the material under, pull the batting and material tight around to the bottom and used a staple gun to secure. I used a piece of dropcloth to cover our bench top.
    As you can see, our top is not yet attached to the box (uh-em). We’ll use L-brackets and attach from the bottom with small screws, though it sits there pretty securely without them.

  • Then all you’ve got left is to decide if you want to leave it as is or add a cushion.

    The cushion I’m going to make is one of those french-style mattress cushions and it will be nice and thick – about four inches. It will be made out of dropcloth (of course) and I’m thinking about making it look like a French grain sack by adding striping.

  • It does look fine with just pillows, too. I’ve just always wanted a bench with an old-fashioned mattress-style cushion.
    It does look fine with just pillows, too. I’ve just always wanted a bench with an old-fashioned mattress-style cushion.

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