To build a chair
Nothing beats sitting around a backyard campfire enjoying spending time with friends and family.
The key part of this is actually sitting.
When I was a kid we would sit on cut off sections of logs or even on the ground as we watched the flames dance and waited our turn to toast marshmallows. I have long-since passed the point where sitting on the ground for a long period of time is considered anything that resembles fun.
While standing is always an option, it has the drawback of not being as relaxing as kicking back and feeling the heat of the fire warm your feet while you sip at your favorite beverage.
About 15 years ago, my wife and I splurged and bought a patio furniture set. For many summers, these have been the go-to furniture for relaxing in our backyard.
Over time, however, time and the elements have taken their toll on our patio set. One by one the chairs ended up either in the trash can or next to it for some scrap collector to scavenge. Currently only one chair and a glass topped table remain from the original set.
In their place we have had a string of bag chairs, which if we are lucky have lasted a season or two before also ending up in the trash. A couple years ago, I used some scrap deck boards we had around and built a pair of sturdy benches, which while not the most comfortable, provide a solid place to sit.
Earlier this summer, I noticed the remaining chair has been creaking alarmingly. Since my wife is the primary user of that chair, I have been somewhat cautious not wanting her to sit in it and end up on the ground. Considering that my wife once broke her arm while mopping our kitchen floor, avoiding even the potential for a pitfall and emergency room trip, I put getting new patio chairs as a high priority for this summer.
Unexpectedly needing to travel to New Jersey for my momâ€™s funeral and then sitting at home for more than a week in self quarantine when we got back threw a monkey wrench in our shopping options, especially if we wanted to pick up something in town. Buying patio furniture after the 4th of July is a lot like shopping for snow boots in February â€” still lots of season left but not a lot of options.
Knowing my way around a screw gun and miter saw, I decided that rather than buying something I wouldnâ€™t like or would be scared to sit on, I would make a chair.
I mean, really, how hard could it be?
The answer to that question is quite hard. Or at least quite hot and sweaty.
I started by sketching out my design and figuring out the materials I would need. I settled on treated 2x4s and deck boards as my primary building materials. I probably could have gotten away with less beefy materials, but I learned from building homes for Habitat for Humanity in college that an extra screw or brace never hurts. There is a reason that Habitat for Humanity homes are the last ones to get blown over in hurricanes.
After a quick trip to Klingbeil Lumber for building materials I was set to go. Rather than haul the materials to my shady, but mosquito-ridden backyard, I used my blast furnace of a driveway as my workshop. For hours in the hot sun, I cut, screwed and pieced together my throne-like chair until it was ready.
While it may never win an award for beauty, the chair is sturdy and strong, and very heavy. Like any good parent, I drafted my 14 years old son and 20 year old daughter to actually do the heavy lifting of getting the chair to the backyard. With cushions ordered and expected to arrive this week we are hoping for good weather this week to break it in.
Meanwhile, I am on to my next project.
Brian Wilson is News Editor at The Star News.