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Very damaged by the weather, this garden chair made of steel tubes has found a second youth. Seat, backrest and armrest were replaced by oak slats and the metal structure was sanded and repainted.

Restoration of a garden chair

A piece of furniture deserves to be restored as soon as it has a solid structure. In the case of tubular chairs, it must be ensured that the thickness of the latter has enabled them to withstand the rust attacks: the welding spots are particularly to be controlled.

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Excessively damaged parts must be removed in order to be replaced by parts that can be manufactured with the means of the edge. Here, it would have been too difficult to make curved slats conform to the original model. It was therefore decided to make straight slats, less comfortable but solid proof. Only one oak tray 54 mm thick was enough to restore six chairs and, adding the price of screws, paint and hard oil, the budget is just € 72, or € 12 per chair.

Choose the oak for its solidity

The oak has a reputation for longevity and of solidity fully justified, including for outdoor use. Hardwood, it works well provided you have tools properly sharpened. The laths are cut with a circular saw in a rough sawn timber tray purchased from a sawmill. A single face is planed as and when it is cut (songs and the underside remain rough sawing), which saves the material by exploiting the entire thickness of the plate. The use of slats thicker than the original ones makes it possible to replace the aluminum rivets with wood screws in stainless steel or galvanized. Placed under the seat and behind the backrest, this method of fixing remains very discreet.

A three-stage finish

Subject to moisture and rain, the wood surface tends to become rough due to straightening of the ends of the sliced ​​fibers by sawing. A waterwash with a little bit of lime allows the tannins to react while causing the straightening of the fibers; the color of the wood darkens under the effect of the alkaline product, and it remains only to finely sand the surfaces to polish the wood definitively. The finish is completed by a layer ofhard oil for outdoor, to renew every two years if the chairs stay outside.

Disassemble the slats of the chair

  • The laths are riveted on junction plates welded to the tubes, drill in the axis of the rivets with a drill Ø 5 mm to be able to disassemble easily.

Use a perpendicular guide

  • Preferably use the perpendicular fence of the table saw to cut long the standard 54 mm thick oak tray purchased from a sawmill.

Bridle the piece

  • Plan the songs to get a flat and smooth surface, to be presented against the parallel guide of the table saw.
  • Bridle the piece in a portable vise or workbench.

Saw the slats with the table saw

  • Line the slats to the desired thickness (20 mm) by sliding the planed face against the parallel guide.
  • Alternate planing and sawing so that each slat has a planed face.

Sharpen the pieces

  • The armrests have a groove for styling the support tube.
  • Use a router with its parallel guide and throat cutter (Ø 20 mm) before delimiting the parts.

Bevel the ends of the slats

  • The ends of the slats are bevelled to fit over the joining plates.
  • Make a machining assembly to cut the ends at the desired angle.

Sand the songs of the pieces

  • Polish and round the ends and edges of the armrests to the orbital sander.
  • We can also sand the edges of pieces of rough sawn timber.

Fix the slats of the chair

  • Hold the seat and back battens with spacers and screw them through the connecting plates (4 x 20 mm screws).
  • Fix the armrests through the tubes (4 x 30 mm screws).

Tips for DIYers

  • A table saw or miter saw allows cutting at a precise angle (up to 60°). Beyond that, it is necessary to use a machining template.
  • The stripping of the tubes can be done in several ways: hot (torch, heat gun), sandblasting, sanding or scraping, with a stripping gel.
  • To protect the metal, a transparent antirust can also be mixed with a layer of primer before painting.


Video Instruction: Restoring a cast iron and hardwood garden bench