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Bistro Chairs and Bar Stools

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This blog entry gives a brief overview on some of the process involved in making the chairs and stools seen in the photo's below.  We fabricate all parts in these from scratch at our shop in Fort Collins, CO.

Bistro Chairs 2


Walnut Barstools 1

The most recent order from our Etsy shop was 4 “Bistro” style stools with matching bar-stools.  The customer - from Boston, MA – specified a black finish for all the steel used.  The wood we decided on was walnut with an even darker “wenge” insert.  The stools are made for a 36” high table which the customer already has. 
                The first step to creating these two different stools was cutting, bending, rolling, and forming the steel parts from raw material. 

Stool Parts


The photo below shows the manual roll machine used to create the round foot rest seen on the bar stools.  We create a coil of steel and then cut multiple circles of the same diameter.  They are then welded into a hoop and ground flush.

rolling hoops


The backers for the chairs are formed in a similar manual bending machine.  As shown in the photo below, it is important to make all the parts identical so that the resulting assembly will be accurate to the plans.  The four backers in the photo will next be drilled for mounting holes and the tops rounded and sanded.

IMG 2672

The photo below shows a simple jig setup for creating the Bistro Chairs.  This is where all the various metal parts will come together and be welded in the base of the chair.  Our jig setup is more simple for this small run of only 4 chairs.  Given a larger order, a more permanent metal jig would be created for a faster assembly time.

Metal Jig

For the wooden portion of the Bistro Chairs and Bar stools, we start with rough sawn lumber.  The lumber is planed down on the top and bottom which yields a good flat surface to reference other cuts from.  The photo shows our rough cut lumber (walnut) just after passing through the planer:
Rough Cut Walnut

After the lumber is planed on the broad side, it is then ripped and joined to create S4S or “surfaced 4 sides” pieces which are ready to be glued together.  The photo below shows the walnut glued together with the wenge insert.  After this has dried the round stool bases will be roughed out from this slab.

IMG 2669

High production shops will use larger scale clamping machines and jigs for the process seen above, however in our shop we are limited on space and budget, so old fashioned hand clamping is used.  When the clamps can be removed, the new glued-up assembly is passed through the planer again to even out any ridges created by small height differences between the individual pieces in the glue up.  The photo below shows the glued-up assembly after a pass through the planer.  When the joint is tight, it can be difficult to even tell where it is.  Now the piece is ready to be roughed into circular chair bases.

IMG 2675

For  making the curved backers on the Bistro Chairs, we simply cut multiple curves of the same profile from a piece of lumber and join the pieces together.  The photo below shows us cutting one of these curves on the vertical band saw. 

Bandsaw cutting backs

The curves are then sanded smooth and the corners are rounded to shape.  The photo below shows the backer curves after they are rough sanded to shape.  The chair backer in the center has already had the corners rounded to shape. 

Wood Chair Backers

Once all the metal and wood parts are roughed into shape, we will begin assembly the wood to the metal.  The connections used to join the wood to metal in this application are simple:  bolts and screws.  The photo below shows the brass insert that is required to “bolt” the metal into the wooden chair backer.  This brass insert has a course wood thread on the outside and a 5/16 – 18 machine thread on the inside. 
Chair Assembly

After the initial assembly the parts are then unbolted and removed for finishing.  The wood will get a simple wipe-on Tung Oil treatment while the metal bases will be painted with a flat black finish.  After the finish is applied and has dried, the chairs and bar stools are re-assembled, packaged, and shipped.   

Bistro Chair Assembly


walnut barstools 2

Bistro Chairs 1