Chair mending project
15 August 2021

Here is the tale of my chair mending project.

The tale begins during the second great lockdown for NSW, in which I was once again banished from my lovely peaceful office to work from home. Before the first lockdown in 2020, it was pretty obvious what was going to happen, so I turned up to my office with my car one day and told my manager I’d be taking home various useful items like my headset, a second monitor, and my very nice ergonomic office chair.1 But then lockdown ended, and we could go back to our office, and so I took all my stuff back again. And then I was off sick from the end of May until it became more and more clear that I would not be going back in again any time soon.2

So then it’s lockdown time again, but I have no nice comfy chair to work from. I’d bought a saddle stool (like the ones hairdressers use) but while it is genuinely fantastic for sewing and crafts, it’s not good for sitting at a computer and typing. I also like to sit cross-legged, because it means I sit up straight, and this is very important for me because I have ongoing intermittent RSI which presents in my forearms and (a) is painful and (b) means I literally cannot do anything requiring the use of my arms until it settles down again after specialised physiotherapy. Ideally, I’d learn to sit properly and do more stretches and improve my relevant muscles, but let’s be real here…

Last lockdown, I’d had some success using an armchair at my computer desk, but there were various problems with that (the seat cushion was slidy, it was hard to get into, and it took up a TON of space) - but then one day I remembered the big dining chair that was always my dad’s chair, and thought I might try that one out. In the process of carrying it to my desk, I turned it upside down and the seat fell out and hit me right on the bridge of the nose, and I swear to you it still bloody hurts several months later.

Anyway, the upshot was that the chair was extremely functional – it gave me bruises on my feet from where my ankles press into the seat arms, but otherwise it was really comfortable for my preferred ways of sitting. Unfortunately, it was falling apart at the joints – every time I wanted to sit down, I had to press the sides of the chair together to stop the dowels from showing. Also, the seat needed recovering, because it was old fake leather that was wearing out and looking really tacky, and the fabric covering the underneath of the seat had basically started disintegrating. (My theory is that this is why the damn thing hit me on the nose - it was a PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE against me.) So, really, I had no choice but to take the chair to pieces.

Also it was lockdown, and disassembling things gives me a sense of control over my environment…3

At first, things were easy, because the joints had already come apart. But I’d read online (about furniture restoration) that you shouldn’t just fix one joint, because the rest will probably go as well, so it’s better to redo all the joints. So more and more got disassembled, and then some dowels broke, and one of the arm struts broke in a couple of places because it turns out that time and patience is more helpful in woodworking than brute force.

Then I had a disassembled chair lying on the floor and nowhere to sit.


I acquired supplies (online, because lockdown):

  • hardware supplies: a random orbital sander, sandpaper, a cork sanding block, a packet of 10mm dowels, fancy wood glue, a pretty hammer, protective masks (plus some other items because I fucking love hardware shops)
  • upholstery supplies: upholstery tacks, a tack remover
  • painting supplies: furniture varnish, dropcloths, paintbrushes

Things I already had were:

  • Home dec weight fabric for recovering the seat
  • screwdrivers and a rubber mallet
  • boundless enthusiasm???


  • Started reupholstering seat on 15/8/2021 using Jos Proust flamingos and upholstery tacks - useful video at
  • Started sanding the pieces on 14/8/2021
  • Glued legs in place on 24 August
  • Took more apart on 25 August
  • Glued in back on 26 August (broke top and glued that too)
  • Put in arms on 27 August 2021

Current status

As at 23 January 2024 (when this post was finally posted) the chair is kinda back together again, but it still keeps starting to come loose at the same section of the seat where it was originally coming loose.

It needs some more work…

I’m quite pleased with the way the actual upholstering turned out, but the woodworking aspect clearly needs more skills.

  1. He was a bit nonplussed, because technically we weren’t allowed to work from home at that point, so none of the protocols about taking home office equipment had been worked out yet, but I didn’t exactly *ask*, just told him what I’d be doing, sincerely promised to bring them back, and sauntered off with my employer’s property. ↩︎

  2. I am deeply sorry for the cheese I left in the fridge in late May, thinking I’d be back to eat it the next day…. ↩︎

  3. Also disassembled during that week or so: one woollen tartan shirt, the back of the mantel clock, and the insides of a backpack. ↩︎