Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sling Chairs

The story of my sling chairs begins with my awesome neighbor.  He's in his mid to late 80s and he shares my love for working with wood.  Remember when I was building the sink for my boys' bathroom (you can see it here)?  Well, he noticed me out on my driveway building it.  That was the beginning of a beautiful relationship--one where he brings me free wood (remember all the beautiful hardwoods he brought me that I turned into breadboards--you can see them here, and the 1/4 ply I was able to use for the built-ins--you can see them here).  Well, the first wood he brought by was this pile of unplaned 1x2s:
You see, my dear neighbor, although long ago retired, still works hard volunteering at The Happy Factory (click on it to check it out), a non-profit organization that my friend runs and that was founded by her late husband.  It is AWESOME!  Definitely check it out.

The Happy Factory makes the most darling little wooden toys for poor children.  My sister-in-law was even able to take hundreds of the toy cars to Ethiopia to give to the children in the orphanage from which my nephew was adopted.  My own children play with these well-built toys all the time.  I love the Happy Factory for the service they do and, well, as you know, I love wooden toys (you can see some of the toys I've made here)!

Anyway, occasionally the Happy Factory receives donations of wood that is unusable for the toys.  They then donate that wood for other uses--like for me to use for my projects.  :)  So, I decided to come up with a plan for how to use this stack of 1x2s that my neighbor brought me.  And, I turned to Ana White--I LOVE her DIY building website--you can see it here.  Anyway, she had these plans for foldable sling chairs.  I used the 1x2s to build these chairs last year and then they sat in the garage until I found the time to stain them this year.
They are currently sitting on the concrete pad near the firepit grass (don't mind the pallets and such in the background--we're still cleaning up) so that we can easily pull them around the firepit when we want to use it.  Of course you can see the journey of the firepit area of our yard here. It's actually turned out to be a nice location for them, as you can enjoy the sweet smell of the honeysuckle we have planted there while sitting in them.  Mmmm.  You can see the concrete in relation to the firepit in this picture (again, please ignore the mess, which has since been cleaned up):

When I built the chairs, I didn't want to use standard outdoor fabric because (1) it is SO expensive, (2) it doesn't last as long as I would ideally want, and (3) I wanted water to be able to easily drain through it without making the fabric soaking wet in case I wanted to leave the chairs out on the grass in the sprinklers.  So, I put an ISO ad on craigslist for anyone who may be throwing out an old trampoline mat.  Sure enough, we found someone who gave us their old torn mat.  I cut it up and sewed it into the slings.  The trampoline fabric solves all of the concerns:  (1) free, (2) long-lasting, and (3) dry.  And the chairs are super comfortable to lounge in.  I may make a few small tweaks in the design if I were to build them again so that they can have a more upright position (since they are multi-position chairs anyway) and so they can fold even flatter.  But, I'm glad to have them done and to finally be able to use them.  Even the kids love to lounge in them.  I only wish I had made more when I was building them.