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The commercial chair as purchased.

The commercial chair as purchased.

Upholsterer Mike Mascelli was kind enough to send along some photos of what happened in his class to the terrible chair frame I wrote about this week.

It’s a bit like the story of George Washington’s axe in a museum. After George died, the next owner wore out the head and replaced it. The owner after that broke the handle and replaced that. But it’s still Washington’s axe. Right?

The crappy frame below the upholstery.

The crappy frame below the upholstery.

The new and improve frame being reupholstered.

The new and improved frame being reupholstered.

So after removing the poor upholstery from a commercial chair, Jim, one of Mike’s students, saw the crappy frame. So they rebuilt the frame properly. Then upholstered it using sound techniques.

As Mike put it: “(It’s) the story of how the brave woodworker used the power of upholstery to defeat the Evil Empire of Cheap Furniture (and got the girl…. I think the chair was for Jim’s wife).”

Mike donated the horrible original chair frame to the Marc Adams School of Woodworking for the school’s “permanent collection.”

“I will be very anxious to hear what Michael Fortune has to say about it when we finally get to talk,” Mike said.

The finished new chair next to the original frame.

The finished new chair next to the original frame.

Mike, as you might imagine, is passionate about preserving and teaching sound upholstery techniques. So if you are interested in the “soft” side of woodworking, look for classes taught by Mike in the coming year.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 6 comments
  • Kevin Mello

    The original chair is obviously another example of our make it fast, not to last, throw away society. Most folks today have been so brainwashed by Wallyworld and Ikeestuff that they wouldn’t know a well made piece of furniture if it fell on them.

  • c15571

    So here are some questions from another perspective:

    How old was the original chair?
    With a frame so structurally inept, how did it last more than a day after being purchased?
    Was it intended to be used as a decorative or accent piece rather than a functional piece (even though it was UGLY!)?

    I’m not justifying the construction, just trying to understand WHY or HOW it survived any kind of normal use. Was it “good enough” for it’s initial intended use?


  • thekiltedwoodworker

    Well they did a great job! It looks like a totally different chair!

  • GyeGreene

    So, the original chair has upholstered LEGS? Who the heck does **that**? Odd.


  • pwbaud

    Maybe the frame builder was counting on the upholstery to hold the chair together.


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