Restoring a Funky Dump Chair

I wouldn’t ordinarily write about repairing a chair, but I wanted to pay tribute to the artist who created this chair. The exact details of how this chair came into my hands isn’t exactly clear now. It seems that in the era around 1978-1979, while taking garbage to the Glenwood dump near Springfield, Oregon, I spotted a funky little chair. It had been left by someone by the side. I was attracted to it’s unusual design. Obviously it had been hand-made, a one of a kind. So I loaded up my “dump-dive” find and headed home.

It was carried from our Springfield house to the new house we built. tucked away here or there and finally in my shop for all these years, it was my intention to restore it some day. That day finally came while I was looking for projects to do while taking a break from other projects. By then the chair had lost a loose piece off the back and had gathered a lot of dust and debris.

Inset

This is the chair with the dowels covering the (leg) screws chipped out. Inset gives the chair dimensions. A few words about it’s condition and construction. It seemed to have been immersed in a creek or body of water at some time. There was a fine layer of silt beneath the joints at the back to seat connection and beneath the seat to the legs. It was constructed of redwood. The seat was connected to the legs using brass screws with a dowel cap over them. Everywhere else common nails were used to connect the parts. I will point out other details through the pictures.

The disassembly.

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The legs laid out next to the cross tie piece.

The seat was attached to the legs with 2 1/2” slot head brass screws. Two through the seat to each leg and an additional one screw into the tie piece.

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The legs were connected to the tie with a pair of 7 penny common nails angled in through the leg tops into the tie, each side.

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You can see where the artist had considered using dowels to connect the legs to the seat. (Note the four holes at the tops of the legs).

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I’m set to reassemble the seat to the legs. The seat has been attached to the back. I used 3” ceramic coated deck screws, with Phillips head. The legs are connected to the tie using a 2” same kind screw.

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The chair back has a support brace at the bottom attached to the back with the 3” screw, previously attached with a 16 penny common nail. At the bottom right you can see a patch I made to fill where I lost the original broken piece.

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Here is the restored chair beside our front door, where it will live out its useful life. We have speculated on the chair’s purpose. It has the characteristics of a spinner’s chair. But Robin has proposed that it may also have been a musician’s chair, as in a cellist.

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The artist probably left his calling card on the chair. Under side of the seat and up front is a routed out image. On the right side you can see a crack. The seat was split full length . I repaired it by cutting a slot and gluing in a spline to hold it together along with the glue.

A google image search (now, but not when we acquired the chair) pops up the Gasoline Alley character Wally Wallet. Robin thinks Skeeziks, but I haven’t found an “aged” image of him. In any case, was the artist presenting himself in that carving? We will probably never know… unless someone close to the artist reads this blog.

May the yurt surround you.


 

Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to check out our books about building a yurt or a small cable suspension bridge. The links to purchase are on the introductory page:

Introduction to Wildcat Man

Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2013-2020 by Marvin Denmark unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without my permission. Thank you.

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