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  1. #1
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    Default Making a chaise lounge

    Hi all. This is my new project. A chaise lounge from scratch.

    I'm looking forward to this one. Its the sort of project I like because it incorporates a lot of skills including design, woodwork, metalwork and upholstery.

    I've included a sketch of my design. I think it's robust enough to be usable but still (marginally) elegant. It probably isnt very nice to sit in, but who really sits in a chaise anyway.

    I did do detailed plans but unfortunately lost them moving houses. The sketch is all I have left, but it should be enough to work from once I've reconstructed the dimensions. I find the dimensions the hardest part.

    So currently I'm thinking:
    1. make the body and arm rest using techniques more like building a wooden boat. Strong rigid and light.
    2. use a subtractive approach to do the legs. Basically, just build up big blocks of cheap timber (laminated if necessary) and trim away using successively; arbotech, flap wheel, carving chisels, sandpaper.
    3. make the back rest from steel - because I don't think I can make it rigid enough out of timber.
    4. then upholster. z springs for the base. Quality webbing for the arm rest and back rest. Then the usual calico, hessian, foam and wadding. I've been using our industrial sewing machine a lot because I think its going to require a lot of sewing to get the upholstery neat and tight.

    Colour scheme to be white fabric and very dark timber, stained to approximate Macassar ebony.

    Naturally I'm going to do it as a WIP thread here. I hope some people find it interesting although I realise not many people here are interested in upholstery. Anyway there's still a lot I don't know about making upholstered furniture so I'm hoping for some guidance along the way.

    cheers
    Arron

    chaise colour.jpg
    Apologies for unnoticed autocomplete errors.

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  3. #2
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    Default Making a chaise lounge

    I'm pulling up my want to be chaise lounge(chair)
    To see how you go at this
    One thing I would like to build one day my self one day lol

    Cheers Matt


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simplicity View Post
    I'm pulling up my want to be chaise lounge(chair)
    To see how you go at this
    One thing I would like to build one day my self one day lol

    Cheers Matt
    Well I'm glad to know someone else is interested.

    Anyway this project is doing my head in. I've spent the last two days trying to iron out all the problems involved in going from design to making - there are so many issues, especially when you are trying to make something which is not just strong enough for big people to relax on, but it has to be light too because my wife and I have noticed were not getting any younger and we have decided we don't want any more heavy things in the house. In fact we don't actually have a house, we're renting a unit while waiting to buy and build - so we've got no space for more furniture, so it will have to be at least partly modular so it can be disassembled and live in our storage unit which is also full to the gunwhales. Plus anything upholstered has the added complication of needing strong and convenient attachment points for the upholstery - plus I think the design requires a clean and tight look so no wrinkles in the upholstery are acceptable - especially hard to eliminate where one padded surface meets another.

    I think I will spend the weekend making a scaled down prototype to help me think the issues through.
    Apologies for unnoticed autocomplete errors.

  5. #4
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    I_wanna_Shed is offline Now I've got a 6x7m shed! I need a new name...
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    Default

    Beauty! A chaise lounge is on my list of pieces to make. Love their curves. Watching this one!

  6. #5
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    Default

    This is interesting. I own two antique cedar chaise lounges (1820's and 1840's) but most people do not appreciate/like them at all. They are difficult to sit on "proper-like" but easy to recline on decadently!

    Your concept design is very European in appearance. English and Australian chaises almost always have turned legs, though often shaped/reeded/fluted after turning. Germanic furniture had legs as you show and French furniture similar but embellished with curlicues etc.

    The concept design also brings to mind the Art Deco period.

    I would be careful about incorporating steel. The flexibility and movement of timber and steel are so different that you could make it weaker by doing that (in the long-term anyway). Given that my two chaises are very old and all timber (and cedar is a soft, though stable timber) it is clearly possible to make them strong enough in timber.

    i will watch with interest.

    David

  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xanthorrhoeas View Post
    They are difficult to sit on "proper-like" but easy to recline on decadently!
    I agree - they aren't very comfortable to sit on at all. I should point out that we already own one chaise which I've only ever sat on once, and my wife has never sat on at all as far as I can recall. It does make me wonder about what was different about people in Victorian times that meant they found a chaise comfortable. Maybe it was all that wearing of corsets and other stiff clothing which meant they could never really 'flop down' into a couch or chair, but kept at least partially erect all the time. And then of course there was all that fainting going on.

    So obviously its just for show, and just as an interesting project.


    Quote Originally Posted by Xanthorrhoeas View Post
    Your concept design is very European in appearance. English and Australian chaises almost always have turned legs, though often shaped/reeded/fluted after turning. Germanic furniture had legs as you show and French furniture similar but embellished with curlicues etc.
    Being a big fan of French furniture that was not accidental.

    I will probably carve a very restrained curlicue into the vertical facepiece.

    I wanted to avoid turned legs, but the more I work on my design the more I realise how hard I'm making it for myself. Turned legs would be so much easier, but I dislike those little stumpy turned legs you mention.


    Quote Originally Posted by Xanthorrhoeas View Post
    I would be careful about incorporating steel. The flexibility and movement of timber and steel are so different that you could make it weaker by doing that (in the long-term anyway).
    After prototyping it today, I realise there is no role for steel.


    Quote Originally Posted by Xanthorrhoeas View Post
    Given that my two chaises are very old and all timber (and cedar is a soft, though stable timber) it is clearly possible to make them strong enough in timber.
    I'm an incorrigible overbuilder.



    cheers, glad to have you on board.
    Arron
    Apologies for unnoticed autocomplete errors.

  8. #7
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    Default Question for Xanthorrhoeas

    Hey David,
    Could you do me a favour. Could you measure the length and width of the bed on those two chaises of yours ? By 'bed' I mean just the flat bit you lie on, not including the side arm or the back rest.

    And can you tell me please how you feel about them (ie too long, too wide, too narrow etc) from both a functional and aesthetic perspective.

    It would be much appreciated.
    The dimensions are the hardest part.
    Nonetheless I expect to cut up most of the timber tomorrow.
    Thanks
    Arron
    Apologies for unnoticed autocomplete errors.

  9. #8
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    Default Scale model

    Much of this weekend was spent making a scale model of the chaise, as a prototype.

    Just a rough thing made with superglue and offcuts.

    My intention was not really to make it to 'scale', but the main thing is that every piece of timber that will be in the finished article will be in the model, and all in the correct place. This allows me to see how it fits together and to solve the problems that I am not a sufficiently capable 3D thinker to nut out in my head.

    Its amazing the way unsolvable problems melt away when you can actually see all the bits coming together.

    This is the model.
    proto1.jpg


    and here it is with a bit of foam on to give a better idea of shape.
    proto2.jpg



    Now I want the finished item to be modular so that I can take it apart and store it if necessary. It will break down into 4 parts, and the model is the same. Each of the 4 parts will have to be finish-upholstered, and the whole lot held together with concealed fittings.
    proto3.jpg

    The parts are the 'base', the 'bed', the 'armrest' and the 'backrest'.
    Apologies for unnoticed autocomplete errors.

  10. #9
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    Default Problems

    There are still problems though.

    One issue arises fixing the backrest to the armrest. I want to fix the two together in two or three spots along the length of the armrest - so that the two provide bracing for each other. I think I can access the lower fixings by poking my arm up inside the armrest but I dont think I'll be able to reach right up to the top. Bear in mind that both parts will be fully upholstered at this stage, and I wont want to be peeling upholstery back or anything like that to access the concealed fitting.

    One idea I've had for this is to have a hook thing, so the top of the backrest is hooked into a fitting on the armrest rather then the two screwed together. Then the backrest is lowered into place and the lower concealed fittings done up. Sounds easy to do, but my concern is that it may start squeaking further down the track.

    The other issues involve the legs. The legs will be basically just planted on. The grain on the legs will run vertical, so I worry about whether they will be vulnerable to splitting as indicated below.

    legsplit.jpg

    Also, the grain of the legs is vertical, but the grain of the base rails will be horizontal - naturally. Because the legs need to be solidly fixed to the base, and because they are not particularly robust over much of their area, I would like to glue them on to the rails. The problem is expansion and contraction being different between vertical and horizontal aligned grain.

    Im not sure what to do about this. Maybe I could glue a piece of plywood between - so that there are two glue lines each needing to deal with expansion/contraction in one direction only, rather then one glue line dealing with e/c in both directions simultaneously.

    I might have to make a prototype leg full size and think this out.

    tomorrow is cut all the timber up day.

    cheers
    Arron
    Apologies for unnoticed autocomplete errors.

  11. #10
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    Default Most of the timberwork done

    Yesterday I went to the local Men's Shed to cut up the timber. I can't run a tablesaw or thicknesses where we live, though I can drill, glue and assemble in the garage. No workbench, just working on the floor. Today I assembled the base, bed and armrest. Pictures below.

    The dimensions are the hardest part. I kept thinking it's too short and too wide, but stick with the plan and it will work out. But no it is almost definitely too wide, and maybe too short. I think I'll wait till I've done the backrest before deciding. Adding length is easy enough, but I think it's 50mm too wide and that will need breaking apart. It will be a bit brutal because I'm mostly relying on adhesives for the joints..

    Making timber frames for upholstered furniture proceeds very quickly - always surprising for someone who has a background in solid timber furniture. There is no finessing needed - it's mostly just straight off the saw. I structure things to make sure there is no downtime waiting for glue to set by using Quickset PVA and screws to remove the need for clamps.

    I'm sure anyone who has taken sofas or armchairs apart has been amazed at how rough and ricketty they are underneath the fabric. I can't get into that way of thinking, I still try to make everything bombproof. At the same time I know that I've never been sitting on a couch and had it collapse under me, so I guess it's just me overbuilding everything.

    Really, it's technically simple and not much to say about the woodwork itself.

    It's on little temporary legs, just to get it up off the floor a bit.

    And there needs to be a cross-brace to stop the bed sides spreading under weight - I forgot to cut that.

    Next is the backrest, though the next few days are busy for me doing other things.

    Cheers
    Arron

    IMG_1428.jpgIMG_1435.jpg
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  12. #11
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    Arron.
    The lounge is looking excellent.
    Sorry for not contributing more, but you are doing a great WIP.

    Cheers Matt

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arron View Post
    Could you measure the length and width of the bed on those two chaises of yours ? By 'bed' I mean just the flat bit you lie on, not including the side arm or the back rest.

    And can you tell me please how you feel about them (ie too long, too wide, too narrow etc) from both a functional and aesthetic perspective.
    Nonetheless I expect to cut up most of the timber tomorrow.
    Thanks
    Arron
    Apologies Arron, I have been sick for a couple of days, so I'm sure this is too late. The 1820's chaise 'bed' measures 600 wide by 1750 long, the later one 600 x 1700. Both are comfortable to lie on.

  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xanthorrhoeas View Post
    Apologies Arron, I have been sick for a couple of days, so I'm sure this is too late. The 1820's chaise 'bed' measures 600 wide by 1750 long, the later one 600 x 1700. Both are comfortable to lie on.
    Thanks very much. I'm pretty sure mine is too short and too wide. I guess I'll have to modify it, but I'll wait till the backrest is on before deciding. Going forward I'm just screwing things rather then gluing and screwing so I can take apart.

    Cheers
    Arron
    Apologies for unnoticed autocomplete errors.

  15. #14
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    And sorry, I should have asked you before - can you also give me the height of the top surface of the bed above the floor.

    Thanks
    Arron
    Apologies for unnoticed autocomplete errors.

  16. #15
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    Height above floor, top of mattress:

    1820's = 460 mm
    1840's = 440 mm

    The top of the bed under the mattress:

    1820's = 400 mm
    1840's =360 mm

    BTW, my antique chaises have mattresses "squabs" of teased horsehair. It is a marvellous material - after 150 years you can take it out, wash it and re-stuff the mattress and it is good as new. Modern foams, synthetics and materials like coconut fibre cannot compete for longevity.

    As you can see from the above, the mattresses are different thicknesses. The 1820's mattress is original, the 1840's chaise we had someone reproduce a mattress in teased horsehair. It used to be available in Australia but as far as I know, no one imports the teased horsehair now. It is still available in China I think, because they still have large horses there.

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