The (other) Twins & More Caning Tutorial

Saturday, February 2, 2013 -

Sorry for my absenteeism. I've been so super busy this last week, I just haven't had time to get a new post together. To give you an idea of what the last couple of days has been like, I have a nightstand drying in my garage that has three different colors of paint on it. ARG! More on that later.

Any of you who have met me in real life I'm sure know that I have identical twin boys, Ean and Warren. We can't go very many places (especially where the AARP crowd hang) without a whole lot of comments and cheek pinching. We tend to make a scene wherever we go, but in all honesty that probably has little to do with their cuteness and a lot to do with their general, monkey-like behavior. Anyways, I just finished a set of french chairs that I have been referring to as "the twins". I just realized as I was typing the post title that in fact Ean and Warren are the "original twins" of my creation. So, I figured I'd give them credit.

Aww. Aren't they cute?

Okay.You didn't come here to see pictures of my kids. Back to furniture.

A couple weeks back I posted a tuitorial on upholstering a caned back chair (see here). I recieved quite a few emails asking if I happened to have a pair of french chairs. I started to scour craigslist and low and behold I found these beauties within a couple of days.

(Please pardon all the blurry photos. I must have been really busy or had my eyes in backwards that day)

The man selling them was very nice and gave me a good deal on the pair. They are the same basic Louis XV shape and styling as the first chair, but larger and much more ornate. There was one BIG difference though- they had a caned seat as well as back. Since I had just finished upholstering over caning I wasn't scared by the challenge. 

I had them sitting in my front room for a couple days while I brainstormed on what finish and upholstery I was going to try. During that time, I had a buyer for the original french chair. While she was at my house she noticed the pair of red french chairs sitting aside. Long story short, she put in a order to have them painted and upholstered to match the first chair. So, I'm sorry if this post looks a little redundant. I was filling a custom order.

She liked the distressed white I had done on the previous chair, but I had one small dilemma  The first chair had a brown stained finsh that peaked through. These new chairs were already painted red and there was NO WAY I was going to strip them to wood with all that detail. So I came up with a simple solution. I started off with a red primer and then a coat of dark brown paint. That way, when I distressed the edges, brown shows through, just like the first chair.

Next came two coats of the same white in semi-gloss, latex.

I distressed the edges

And applied the same brown glaze.

Finished with two coats of Minwax Polyacrilic in satin and the frames were done. Now to tackle the cushions

Using a some old newspaper, I created a template for the seat.

Then I transferred the shape to a piece of 3/4 in plywood.

I then cut out the shape I had traced using this wonderful jigsaw. (I normally avoid cutting curved like the plague, but since buying this orbiting, adjustable jigsaw, I fear curves no more! Its cheap and great!).

Notice the holes around the arms are extra long? When I went to test fit my seat in the chair, I discoverd a problem. There was NO way I could weasel the wood seat base around the arms of the chair. Trust me, I tried. I even pounded on it with my rubber mallet, trying to pop it in, not thinking of how I would have gotten it out had the pounding worked. I ended up shaving off the outside edges and cut out deeper holes to fit around the arms. It's okay, there is still plenty of wood for the foam to cover. You can't even tell once it's upholstered.

I took my new seat base, sprayed it with Spray Adhesive, and laid it on some 1" upholstery foam.

I then cut around the seat, leaving about 3/4 in gap around. "Why leave extra foam" you ask? That way, when I pull the fabric taught around the edges, there will be some foam to cover the raw wood on the sides.

Now my seat was basically done.

 I just had to cover it and attach it to the chair. Attaching it was easy. I simply pre-drilled some holes through the frame, forced my seat in place, and drove the screws up from the underside.

The back and front of the backrest were filled in and covered just like the first chair. Add some trim to cover the staples and...

Congratulations, I'm a M.O.M. (mom of multiples)...again.

What do you think?

They are very lovely and very french. All the detail goes perfectly with the soft white and beige colors.

They will each be getting a linen skirt similar to these, so I guess they both girls.

(The Bee Keepers Cottage)
I've gotten so much feedback on just the first french chair I did, I'm on the lookout for another pair. If you live in Phoenix and you know of a set for an amazing price let me know.

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  1. Love love love it!!! They are seriously gorgeous! And I think I am going to make skirts for all of my chairs now. Or I am going to go eat. Probably eat. Anyways, great job, and great tutorial! :)

  2. Oh my! If you ever sell these or any like them I will totally buy them. I have been searching for some. I live in Queen Creek. They are gorgeous. Great Job.

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  4. OMG your boys are SO STINKIN' CUTE!!!!!!!! And the chairs are nice too. :P



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