Momma's Chair; Project 1 of 3

3 Materials
1 Week
When our Mom died at the age of 82, my middle sister inherited our childhood home (which is currently 127 years old and definitely in need of LOTS of work). My Mom had a slider chair that sat by the window so she could enjoy the view as she relaxed (and sometimes "go for a ride" on it while the dog was scraping a toy around on the carpeting, which wasn't secured into place. Yes, a BIG dog, all muscle, AND Momma was lenient with all family members).
I thought "What can I do with this chair when it finally falls apart?" You can see, perhaps, that the chair is leaning slightly (toward you) in this picture because a support had broken over time, but a thin second cushion was placed under the original seat cushion to compensate for the lean (dog was obviously playing hard before this was taken).
Well one day my nephew sat in that leaning chair and it just tipped over sideways, all together, arms coming off and back loosened. THIS is what I had to work with. (BIG GRIN)
My first thought was that the swirl of the arms would make a cute heart shaped wreath with a bit of work, AND I could think of what to do with the other parts of the chair while working on this tribute to Mom's love and acceptance of all living things. LOVE PURE AND SIMPLE.
The next morning I woke up, bought a detail sander that I thought would do a fine job on the curves, never thinking that a flat sander CAN'T do a fine job on any type of curve (see the results of THAT attempt in the previous picture and the one below, too, especially in the curved underside areas). It was the biggest expense in this project, and didn't do the job. I ended up sanding both arms totally by hand the way my Dad had done his entire life (he died before electric sanders were affordable to low income DIYers). When I learned how to do things around the house from him and Mom it was always the "old-fashioned" way.
One arm down and one to go
While doing the necessary sanding I found myself singing a little ditty (with a single word change) from the cartoon FINDING NEMO. You know the one where Dory sings, "Just keep swimming" ? In my mind I was singing "Just keep sanding, just keep sanding, sanding, sanding..." HAH! I began with 60 grit to knock the shellac and color off the wood, then went to a 150 grit to knock off and smooth out any splinters. The last pass was with 200 grit to make it silky smooth and bring out as much of the creamy color as I could.
Time to make the interlocking channels on each side of the arm's edges, so I carefully measured (yes TWICE! maybe even 3 times! I was nervous about this part of it). Then I took my Dad's cleaned up hand saw (which was an unexpected project I had to do in order to do THIS one) and I began cutting through the wood (and I was praying like crazy that I was doing it correctly).
When I handsawed down about halfway through the wood, I realized I couldn't cut out the tab I had created, so I sawed the tab into slices with the handsaw (as thin as I could get them) and used the hacksaw to cut them out. Once I got the multiple slices cut away as evenly and smoothly as possible, I sanded the notch on each arm as smoothly as I could.
The moment of truth. YES! The notches interlocked VERY snuggly together, and the top of the heart shape was aligned the way I wanted it to be, leaving a teardrop (or blood drop) shape at the bottom (I thought of filling it in with some resin ... but silver, gold, glittery, or red colored? hmmm ... maybe I should just leave it alone, and let the owner of the hanging decide what to do with it). So I took it apart, dampened one notch with water, then put a thin application of Gorilla glue on the 3 sides of the other notch, and put them back together. Then I weighted the area down with a box of stuff waiting to be put away, and I left it for 24 hours. That Gorilla glue locked that wood together so tightly it's like one solid piece! Time to work on the top part of the heart.
My Dad taught me that before you try to place a screw in wood, always mark the spots, then drive a nail into them deep enough to hold the tip of the screw in a standing position (even if you have to rotate the nail a bit in the hole area to widen it some). It will make the screw more stable when you go to screw it in.
Okay. Screws are upright, so the nail holes are deep enough. Time to screw them in about halfway (and then remove them) before adding the brace that will hold the top of the heart together. WOW! Using that hand screwdriver just wasn't cutting it. I'm 65 and have some problems with my shoulders and arthritis in my hands. I just couldn't get those screws down into the wood like I used to be able to do!
Enter one of my beloved grand-nephews who let me use his drill bits and electric screwdriver to make better holes to hold the screws, and the power to get them into the wood to hold the brace. Yippee!
A bit of jute twine knotted through 2 of 4 holes that were at the top, and it is all done and waiting, for the family member who wants it, to be stained (or not) and embellished (or not), as a reminder of Momma's loivng arms that used THOSE chair arms for rest at the end of the day. JUST LOVE, PLAIN, SIMPLE, AND PURE.
Suggested materials:
  • Chair Arms, jute twine, hammer, nail, electric drill. gorilla glue, handsaw, hacksaw   (had them at home)
  • 60, 150, and 200 grit sandpaper, L-brace and screws   (Wal-Mart)
  • Detail sander   (Menard's)
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
Join the conversation
3 of 39 comments
  • Itsmemic Itsmemic on Sep 29, 2018

    I love the memory ...wonderful keepsake !

  • SarahAkers SarahAkers on Jan 20, 2019

    Great way to engulf all of your memories of your Mom! You did a great job!!!

    • KattywhampusLOL KattywhampusLOL on Jan 20, 2019

      Thank you Sarah. She was always a "handy" type of person and very creative (as was my Dad). I am sure she would like it too.