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.

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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.

Building Free-Standing Stairs

In February 2019, our 80’ long suspension bridge took a big hit due to an ice-snow storm. An old maple tree above it snapped and came straight for one of the support posts, taking a few trees along with it. The post snapped about in half and the bridge went sideways. The sad event is chronicled here.

The good news was that all the cables and the cable-locking system components were not affected at all. The eye bolt on the broken post that holds the main cable was bent and that was about it for damage other than the post! After a whole lot of cleaning up of debris, my neighbor and I, with some help from the photographer, installed a new (used) power pole and lifted the bridge back up.

The free-standing stairs on either side of the bridge were constructed of recycled materials way back in 2005 and the decking was not meant to be permanent either, so this disaster gave us an important reminder that we needed to do some updating on our bridge.

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The decking is ready to install later in the summer and meanwhile I screwed down planks to keep the bridge safe to walk on for now. The free-standing stairs became more of a priority because they were already falling apart before the storm.

Here are some instructions that assume you have some carpentry experience. Feel free to email me if you don’t understand something.

Pieces Needed (lengths depending on the rise and run of your stairs):
2 – 4×12 pressure-treated beams (stringers)
4 – 2×4 pressure-treated lumber
5 – 2×12 pressure-treated lumber for the steps

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Two rules of thumb for free-standing stairs:
1. One riser plus one tread = approx. 18 inches
2. Two treads plus one riser = approx. 28-29 inches
There are other rules of thumb, such as when dealing with landscaping and low slope terrain, but these two rules will handle almost any building situation.

 

Stairs

When you design your free-standing stairs, you begin with “What is my total rise?” Take that total rise and see how a 7” rise and an 11” run will work (which is the recommended ratio). Divide 7 into your total rise. That will indicate the number of steps (including the landing). My stairs have a 7” riser and 11” tread measured nose-to-nose with a 35″ total rise with a 32-1/2° incline. What if you have a total rise not divisible evenly by 7? Perhaps it’s 34”. 34 ÷ 7 = 4.85. Round 4.85 up to 5. 34 ÷ 5 = 6.8 or 6-25/32 or 6-13/16. With that number, you would just leave the tread at 11”.

If it turns out that you have a total rise that is more evenly divisible by the next higher riser, say 8”, go with that. For example, a 32” rise would give you four 8” steps with a 10” tread (remember the rule of thumb).

Not to belabor this, but you could have a rise of 7-1/2” if it divided into your total rise evenly. And then the tread would be… (you figure it out using the rule of thumb*).

The other question is, “How much space in front of my stairs do I have to work with?” If you are in tight quarters and the rise would end up being more than is comfortable for walking, then you’ll make a landing and turn the stairs at an angle to gain more run that gets you to your final landing. You can also build an alternating-tread ladder stair. I built one and will blog about it soon but I think there are instructions for it online.

Process: The layout is carefully marked on the two 4×12 pressure treated beams (stringers), and cut. The steps will fit into slots in the beams and screwed from the sides. My slots are 3/4” deep.

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To carve a slot, I use my skilsaw to cut multiple passes, then chisel out. It’s easy to knock out the remaining wood after cutting. The very back where the round blade doesn’t reach needs extra work.

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Pre-drill the holes for the screws.

Each beam is attached to a vertical 2×4 pressure-treated piece, based upon your total rise. Also, each beam has a horizontal pressure-treated piece based on your total run. I used a wood preservative in the slots to give them extra protection from rot.

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For the near-stairs, I screwed in the steps and hauled the assembly to the bridge site.

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For the far-stairs, I assembled the components on-site.

* 10-1/2”

Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to check out our book about building this strong bridge. Here is the link:

Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge with the Cable Locking System

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.

Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt: the movie

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Robin put together a movie called “How to Build a Yurt in About Five Minutes.” You can view it by clicking here!

If you’re intrigued yet need more information, you can also buy the book in either color or black and white. It’s 176 pages of step-by-step instructions with lots of photos and drawings, and also includes a materials list for a 16-foot yurt:

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Here’s the link to the color version of the book.

Here’s the link to the black and white version of the book.

Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt: the book

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We have a book! Actually, we have two books. Links to purchase them are below. Color printing costs were high on a 176 page book, so we also published a black and white version. The price is about 40% less than the color version, and the photos are clear enough to illustrate the task at hand.

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Here are the links:

Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt, in color

Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt, black & white

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Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt, Pt. VII: The Book Proof!

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We received the first proof of our book today! A random page opening revealed some of the details for the wall panel jig. There are 170+ pages of everything you’ll need to know to build and assemble a wood-framed panelized yurt.

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There are a couple of drawings to finalize, and a few photos with explanations to add regarding final details, along with some additions and corrections to do. Then we’ll release the book to the world via Amazon.com.

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Meanwhile, here are the Three Yaketeers, with Jeep the supervisor. “Another job, well done.” — Mr. Natural

 

 

Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt, Pt. VI: Floor Plan, Roof Plan and Materials List

Here is the floor plan for this yurt. People who require more details will benefit by purchasing the book, which will be released in September 2018.

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Here is the roof plan for this yurt.

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And here is the almost complete materials list with prices based on costs in Lane County, Oregon. All of this will be included in the book, along with an illustrated cut-list.

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And last but not least, Robin has been working on the front and back cover for the book. Here’s a peek at how it looks now. We’re hoping to finish the yurt in the next two weeks, and will have an updated photo for the front cover. Thanks for looking, and stay tuned!

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Illustrations copyright ©2018 by Marvin A. Denmark; cover design and photographs copyright ©2018 by Robin Koontz. Please do not share without written permission, thank you!

Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt, Pt. IV: The Rafters

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Once the cable is tightened around the tops of the walls and the ring tower is centered, it’s time for rafters. The ends are now cut for the fascia, and the other ends are invert-cut to fit against the corners of the ring assembly.

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I placed each rafter in a corner, then put Robin on the tower and handed up the first rafter beam.

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She held the beam while I climbed the ladder across from her. Nothing is heavy, but definitely not a job for one person.

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The metal ring and the wood ring behind it were pre-drilled, so a bolt was placed and Robin hammered it in. This secures the rafter beam to the ring. The cable through holes in the rafter ends will tie it all together.

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Looking like a yurt now! Next is the cable, then the roof panels.

We are writing a book about the entire process from start to finish so we can share how to build this yurt with anyone who is interested! Stay tuned as we progress, and be sure to watch for news on the book.

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Thanks for stopping by! Photos taken by Marvin Denmark and Robin Koontz.

Building and Assembling a Wood-framed Panelized Yurt: the Basics

I also write DIYs for Instructables.com and just posted one about the yurt. You can find it here: Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt. I entered it in their Tiny Homes Contest so if you like it, please vote, thanks! Voting ends October 1, 2018. I need a new camera. 🙂

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Meanwhile, I’ve been posting more on the YurtYaks Facebook page than I have here, so if you’re curious about the rafter installation and the roof panel assembly, head over there! I’m busy finishing up the book, so will be back soon!

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Thanks for stopping by! Photos copyright ©2018 by Robin Koontz.

DIY Rustic Barnwood Table

OldBarn-SnowIn 1980, an unusually heavy snowfall severely damaged the old wooden barn on our place. We propped the roof up and used the barn for another 10 years or so before taking it down and building a replacement.

My beautiful pictureMost of the Douglas fir wood was damaged, but we saved the rest and have used it for various projects, plus have given a lot of it away.

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We wanted a small table with a shelf to fit between our two recliners: something more interesting than the usual fare. I decided to create a table that appeared to be rustic old. The old fir barn wood fit the bill! I chose pieces that still had some red tone from the hundred-year-old paint job.

I won’t include measurements here because you can make your table any size you want, just by following these steps.

After cutting and sanding all the pieces for the project, I glued the three top pieces together (center plus two sides). I clamped them flat and glued with wood glue.

For the end pieces, I cut a 3/8 inch slot on each end of the table and on each end piece, then splined the top and ends with (3/4 inch blade-kerf width) wood splines and glued. Once dry, I tapered the sides from center to end.

I scorched the exposed edges to continue with the vintage look. Metal pieces clamped in place prevented me from scorching the top or bottom.

I assembled the apron next, then inserted the pre-cut corner blocks. These were cut out for the leg tenons.

The table saw blade is set at 45° so that all the cuts on the legs are 45°. Meanwhile with a tapering jig against the fence, the tapering jig is set so that the leg will taper 1/4″ in its entire length as it is being cut. I screwed in tying blocks and taped them to the leg top surface to keep the leg from sliding as it was being cut. I used a homemade pushing stick to keep my hand away from the blade.

I taped the leg parts together as a test for fit, and once okay, glued and clamped.

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I cut out the leg tenons using multiple passes on a table saw and then cleaned them up using a chisel. It was a tricky business with the old, brittle wood.

I assembled the top to the apron, using tape for correct placement, then screwed the apron to the table top through the pre-drilled holes in the blocks.

I inserted each leg tenon into the blocks and screwed through the pre-drilled hole in the middle.

I custom-made metal tabs that would hold the shelf using some metal scrap I had around.

The tabs were installed at the height of the bottom of the shelf.

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I applied a clear lacquer finish to prevent any modern stains. I like that all the flaws are historic.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out our suspension bridge book. Here is the link:

Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge with the Cable Locking System

Stay tuned for the publication of our new book, Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt. You can see how the yurt is progressing via Facebook’s Yurt Yaks.

Images, diagrams, and text copyright 2013-2018 by Marvin Denmark and Robin Koontz unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy and post my content anywhere without permission. Thank you.

 

Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt, Pt. III: The Ring Tower

After a long, wet winter, we finally got a few sunny days to assemble the ring to the tower and then lift it up! To note, this is a ring for a 6′ dome and we’ll be talking about a 3′ dome in the book. It’s a lot easier to build and manage. This 6′ ring weighed about 200 pounds. As you can see, there’s a 12g metal ring inside (for added strength) that adds to the weight. FinishedRing6-ft

The ring will be temporarily held in place by a tower. Once the rafters are bolted into place, the tower goes away. When I assembled yurts in the past, the tower wood would be salvaged and used for interior wall framing.

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Once the components were ready and it was dry enough to drive to the yurt, it was time for installation. The tower was built so I could just take out a couple of screws and then finish assembly on-site. The ring required a neighbor with a strong back to muscle it into its new home.

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You can see the tower parts on the right side of the yurt. I assembled the tower on the inside, given that it would not fit through the door otherwise.

The next step was to attach the tower to the ring…

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and strap it in readiness for hoisting. To keep the bottom from sliding out I attached a cable that laced through the outside legs and bolted to two walls on either side.

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After shoving it against the far wall, I jacked it up about 2-1/2′ to make the angle of the strap going over the doorway and to the truck a little less severe. I installed a cut pipe on the doorway so the strap would slide easily. You can see the cable attached to the wall in this photo.

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And there she is! You can see the movie on our Facebook page or by heading over to this link on YouTube.

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I put small lengths of conduit underneath the tower so that I could shove it into place after determining the center.

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The last step was to turn it so it is lined up to the 12 rafter corners on the walls. Check out the homemade plumb bobs (plummets).

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We’re ready for the rafters! Stay tuned while we once again wait for it to stop raining.

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We are writing a detailed book about the entire process from start to finish so we can share how to build this yurt with anyone who is interested! Be sure to check back as we progress, and be on the watch for news on the book. You can also find us on Facebook.

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Building a Wood-Framed Panelized Yurt
by Marvin Denmark and Robin Koontz
ISBN-13: 978-0692957370
ISBN-10: 0692957375

Thanks for stopping by! Photos by Robin Koontz and Marvin Denmark.