New Adventures and a Mini Bench Tutorial

This blog post marks the beginning of a collaboration with the amazing people from Revista Atelierul, the handmade and design magazine in Romania. Bellow is the first article I had published on their platform. The published version is in Romanian and can be accessed here

logo-revista-atelierul-300

Now, don’t feel left out if the Romanian language is a mystery to you. There is English material to be found in the pages of the magazine. Just click here and enjoy the interviews. 


 

Let’s start with the beginning. Ingredients:

1. A wood base (the dimensions are yours to choose)
I used 2 shelves from a shoe closet which has done more than its job, but it’s time has long passed. Despite having outlasted its usefulness it is still giving me plenty by letting me reuse every little piece of it.
2. The legs 
The ones I have used were left from an Ikea chair that I have partially used for a different project. (see on the right side of the bench in the picture above).
3. The foam
This has to be thick enough and to offer enough support for appropriate comfort. If the chair is meant for regular use I strongly recommend buying it at a specialized store.
4. Tapestry textile
It is preferred to use textile meant especially for tapestry as this is thicker, more resistant and it does not fray easily. If however you do not find specific tapestry textile, pick one that is as thick as possible and preferably rather rigid.
5. Drill and screws 
6. Staple gun and staples. For safety reasons it is recommended to store it unloaded.
7. Glue
8. Scissors. Scissors are as tough as they are fragile and that is why is best to have separate ones for different uses, particularly when it comes to paper and textile. Scissors used on paper (though still perfectly sharp for paper) lose the sharpness used to cut textile.
9. Pen, marker, ruler, measuring tape and the works.

Special ingredient: A willing helper! 😉

Step 1
In my case that meant gluing together the two shelves together in order to obtain a stronger solid base. Now, like any regular shelf, in time they got to have a slight curve. So in order to prevent any issues on the long run I placed the two shelves with the curved part towards the interior thus having the ends (the short sides) not touching. I laid a generous but not overly generous layer of glue in between and “decorated” them with all the thick books I had handy in order to have them stick together long enough to be drilled and screwed together.
If however your wood base is solid enough to begin with you this step and half of the next one are rather irrelevant.

Step 2
Meant deciding the position and layout of the legs, of the area where the staples will be fixing the material into the board and placement of the screws used to strengthen the bond between the 2 shelves.
I started by measuring first a border of 2 centimeters where to fix the textile. In the remaining area I then proceeded to mark the location of the legs and the strengthening points. I realized early on that I did not want the legs parallel to the edge of the shelves. That to me looked plain and boring so I took the diagonals and marked the position of the legs at a 45 degree angle. I do need to mention that I marked the location of each leg using each individual leg in case they did not came out perfectly symmetrical from the factory.
Now that the stapling area and the location of the legs were set, I could move on and mark the strengthening screws without worrying they would later interfere with any of these. For these I marked a total of 9 points (3 on each side and 3 on the middle line) which I then drew again on the other side of the boards (the top) so I could hide them under the soft cushion of the chair.

As the shelves were made of mdf, a not so friendly material when it comes to screws, the drill was used to make the pre drill the holes so when the screws went in the stress was not going to cause the wood to split. By then I figured it would be easier not to fix the legs in place realizing that it was going to be easier to staple the textile without the legs to keep bumping into.

Tip: If drilled indoors (as we lunatics did) do please have something underneath the wood so in the unfortunate case the drill does go too far in you don’t have to replace the wood floors. 😉

Step 3
I acquired the foam at a specialized store where it was cut to size using an electric knife. A rather nifty tool I have to say… However I came soon to find that my measurements were about 2 centimeters off on both the long and short side. Now, in the absence of an electric turkey cutter you can resort to a serrated kitchen knife. The process is slow but decent and the less pressure you put while slicing through the foam the easier it is to cut straight and control the direction. It also helps to stretch the foam where is being cut by pulling the excess piece in the direction you are cutting once there is a large enough piece to do so.

Step 4 
In order not to have the foam moving all over the place when stapling the textile, it is a smart move to glue it to the wood base. The important mention here is to use the right glue and make sure it is not an acid one that would burn the foam. I personally used Aleene’s Tacky Glue.

Step 5 
To fix the textile place first the textile with the good side down and then the wood board with the foam on the bottom. The stapling process is to be done using opposite points and going two by two through the entire surface in order to keep the right tension.
Start from the middle of a long side. Then fix the middle of the other long side. Move then to the two middles of the two short sides. Continue fixing the material two by two going from the middles towards the corners.
Now that you’ve reached the corners cut the excess if necessary and the fix the corner of the material onto the board. This should leave you with two triangles to fold in. Fold the excess of one side and staple. Fold the excess of the other side of the corner and use it to hide the previous staple.

Tip: It is really important to keep the right tension and fix the points in the right order otherwise the end result can end up uneven and wavy. 

In this case the classical process of folding the corners was rather impossible. The thickens resulted from doubling the material by hiding the edges made the bulge really big and unaesthetic. I ended up spending about 20 minutes folding over and over again to find out which version would allow me best coverage, minimum bulge and best anchoring.
You can see the version I ended up with in the pictures above. The thickness of the folds made the nail option of the staple gun really, really useful and life saving as the staples alone would have never anchored the corners.

Step 6
Screw in the legs.

The first stress tests! 😉

Stept 7
Place in the desired place, test, dance, laugh with all your heart and take pictures (if desired). After all the jumping clean the work space, place all the tools at their places and grab the vacuum cleaner for a finishing touch. Trust me, if anybody ever told you that this was not a messy project they lied.

What have I learned:
Well, for next time I’ll add some batting between the foam and the textile so that the two connect better and have a much more form fitting effect. I think I need to stretch the textile much better on the foam and much tighter than this time. The doubling of the textile at the edges, so I would hide the uneven line, was a bit of a burden so  I’ll do my best to skip that. Some anti fraying solution might actually come in handy. Also I think the legs could have been placed closer to the center of the board purely for structural reasons (though this works just fine as it is).  

I hope this project has caught your attention. Thank you for reading and if you do use it to make your own I would really love to see the results. You can share it on my Facebook page or drop a line bellow.
Have fun creating!

Thank you for dropping by! 
Have fun and love the dino! 
Till next time! 

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One comment

  1. Pingback: Dutch Design Week and, obviously, a new mania! | THE WORLD OF A DINOSAUR

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