Friday, June 8, 2012

Introducing our Make-Do Furniture Line

After several weeks of prototyping, we have finally settled on what we believe to be is the most comfortable, strongest, and best looking make-do furniture on the market. But then, we're prejudice. After owning and selling several different styles of this type of furniture, we thought we could make it better. What we found was several factors that we thought we could improve on and still keep the overall look and feel of this home-grown style of furniture. First, it was generally uncomfortable to sit on. It was hard, and way too straight. Although good looking, it was uncomfortable to use. Second, it was not that strong. The legs would be wobbly and often come loose. The sides would flex and appear weak. Third, it did not appear as though the designs we saw were flexible enough to allow minor changes. This is because the forms all had sewn to fit outer shells that slid over the sides and backs. Although this looks good, it shows the fasteners and any small modification results in a whole new sewing process. The old template cannot be used to sew from. This is how we overcame these obstacles. 
The base of the chair is the first thing to weaken. Therefore, the chairs chosen to become the base must be absolutely in the best and strongest condition. We have toyed with the idea of building our own bases, even to match the rope-style settle and ottoman, however a century of chair design and fabrication has something to say for itself about the durability and strength of chair design, so for now we will stick with established well built chair bases.
The strength of the overall chair was something we wanted to improve on. Most chairs are simply plywood screwed together, and that is how we started. However, we could make this stronger by creating a hollow core form in the same manner a door is built. The perimeter is reinforced with solid lumber, as is the core. The complete structure is then covered with 1/4" plywood. Thus, the back and seat are hollow core forms, 1" thick, and just as light as a 1/2" plywood form. However these will accept glue and screws and make the whole structure much more stable and strong.
As for attaching the fabric, I learned from the other chairs that they were typically sewn sleeves that would slip over the plywood forms and then these forms would typically be screwed or nailed together. This made for a nice clean look however it also meant one had to be proficient at sewing. It also meant that just the most minor alteration would mean that the sewn sleeve would no longer fit and a whole new template would have to be made. We consulted with an upholstery expert who showed us how to apply the fabric without any sewing. So that is how we make these. First the insides are padded with 1" of batting and then covered with the dyed duck cloth. The sides would then be screwed to the back and bottom. More batting is added to the outside and the outer shell could then be applied, which covers up the screws. There is much more to it but that is the jest of how these are put together. 
At $359, it is hard to beat this chair.
 The base on these we do make. The legs and apron are pine. The legs are glued up and then tapered. 
The base is mitered and then the legs are screwed on. The seat braces are angled so that the seat kicks back
at a comfortable six degrees. The holes are then drilled for the rope. The base is then painted and the rope threaded and attached. 
The foam we use in the seat cushions is the secret to the comfort. We use a firm dense open cell foam that is 2" thick. This means you don't bottom out when sitting and makes for a comfortable seat. The other factor that makes this more comfortable than others is the angle of the back. As you can see, the back angles back at 12 degrees. Although this is much more complicated to make, it is well worth the effort and the price, as the extra comfort level is achieved from this seating angle. We have altered the arm rest height as well as the curve in the sides from that of the seat. We think this settle is quite an advancement and think you will be pleased.
The fabric we use is a 10 lb duck cloth. We then use reactive dyes and set the dye so that it will not fade or wash out. This settle uses about 10 yards of fabric all together. There is 1" of batting on the inside and 1/2" on the outside to ensure a nice cushy feel all the way around. This piece is meant to sit 2 people but one person can curl up comfortably for a nice read.
At $550, we think this settle is a good value.

The only thing left is something to put your feet on when stretching out. This is what led to the design of our Ottoman. of course, the base is made the same way as the settle base. The cushion is the same quality 2" firm cushion we use on all of our seating. Priced at only $149, we think you can't have one piece without the matching mate.

As you can see, the grouping looks great together. Arrange them as you like. Unlike others, we offer any of our pieces to be custom designed just for you. This means that you can get these modified to meet your setting and taste. We offer to paint the base and dye the fabric to any color you choose. For a modest fee, we can alter the shape and size of any of these pieces if you require this. We have put a lot of time and work into designing these pieces for strength, comfort, and appearance. We hope that you like it as well and will order some for your home. Please contact us to order by phone at 315-589-2775 or by email at

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