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Thread: Help Build a Sturdy Couch Frame

  1. #1

    Help Build a Sturdy Couch Frame

    Well, maybe a little more complex than that. But, I'd like to replicate this furniture and, though I'm an amateur, it seems to be a simple frame. I'd appreciate your help and hope to have fun with this.

    I'll do a write-up and post pics if you guys can help me make sure the frame is built correctly.

    Single Arm Chair with Side Table
    Dimensions: 59"l x 31"w x 38"h

    Single Armless Chair
    Dimensions: 31"l x 31"w x 38"h

    Single Arm Chair
    Dimensions: 40" l x 31"w x 38"h

    I was amazed that these were going for around $500 each and so I think I could get a great result for a fraction of that cost by building them myself.

    Thanks in advance,
    Last edited by Adam Gandy; 06-01-2008 at 11:23 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Welcome to SMC!

    You might want to check out Mark Singer's threads on his couches. Although they are not upholstered like this, the jointer for the base and frame would be very similar. I think you picked a good design to replicate, too...the clean lines should be very helpful. The biggest issue is going to be figuring out what's best "inside" the upholstery...there are almost no books "out there" on that subject. I know. I looked several years ago...

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #3
    Alright I'll check his thread out.

    Although, I think I may have lucked out and decided to like a set of ready-to-assemble I've found the assembly instructions online. Each piece uses the same type of frame, so I'll just post the one for the single armless chair and the chair with side table to get an idea of how to build this.

    I suppose all I need help with here is to determine what type of wood is sufficient and what thicknesses I should use for the pieces. Also, a reminder that I will be using a veneer, so the type of wood used is only reliant on strength.

    As for the upholstery, I'll use a foam core, cut to shape and wrapped it in Dacron. I'm not great with a sewing machine so I might just take the finished cores to a seamstress, along with some 100% polyester 'microfiber' fabric, and have the cushions finished.

    Assembly for Single Armless Chair

    Assembly for Single Arm Chair with Side Table

    So what do you guys say? Whats an appropriate wood to use and what sort of thicknesses should I be using?

  4. #4
    I got a good laugh when comparing my project furniture to some of Marks projects! I'm certainly going a different route than him. But hey, I'm still in college so this project suits my wallet much, my roommates wouldn't care for a full woodshop inside the apartment.

    Looks like I just need to determine my cutting list with all the dimensions and, of course, which type of wood to use and I should be ready to roll. Any help is appreciated.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    The reason I suggested looking at Mark's threads is that the structure he creates is very strong and suitable for seating. But yes, there will be some differences between his actual design and what you are working towards.

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Birmingham, AL
    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Gandy View Post
    So what do you guys say? Whats an appropriate wood to use and what sort of thicknesses should I be using?
    Given that you want to do this on a budget, and the frame appears to be painted, I would just go with some high quality 3/4 inch plywood. The frame for the chair looks like you might want to laminate two strips of ply together to get a "beam" that would be 1 1/2 inches thick, and the front rail for the couch might require a lamination of 3 pieces, but the legs look like you could easily build them out of single pieces of plywood with some corner blocks for feet. Some hunks of yellow pine would probably be good for the feet and you could probably just buy a single 2x2 baluster and cut it into short pieces to make those. On the couch frame you will probably need another chunk of yellow pine for the triangular frame braces. I think a short piece of 2x6, cut into triangles would do the trick. Just make sure that when you cut the triangles so that the grain runs parallel to the hypotenuse, for strength.

    To construct it, I would just use screws in countersunk holes and fill the holes in with joint compound or wood putty before you paint. You can also use short screws to hold your laminated beams together while the glue dries, just be sure to put them in from the inside face so you don't have as many holes to fill. I'm assuming that since you are on a budget that you don't have a lot of clamps or a vacuum press to do the laminating. (Neither do I. I would also use screws if I were to make these.) Some 1 1/4 inch drywall screws for the laminating and some 2 or 2 1/2 inch drywall screws for the assembly should do the trick.

    All told, to make all three of these chair frames I don't think you would need more than 3 sheets of plywood, a couple of small pieces of yellow pine, wood glue, wood screws, joint compound and paint. Total materials cost in my area would be around $200 for all of that. If you wanted to save even more money, you could use 3/4 inch MDF instead of the plywood, but I hate working with MDF so I wouldn't use it myself. If you don't plan on having these chairs for a long time, MDF could be a good choice to save money (about $20 per sheet of MDF compared to $50 for ply), but I think if you are going to go to all the trouble to build these that it would be worth the extra $100 to go with plywood.

    One thing I can't see from these pictures is if there are any vertical supports that hold up those back pillows? Surely there has to be something that is holding those things upright?

    Last note: I wouldn't bother trying to cut and reinforce miter joints at the corners of the frames. I've attached an image that shows a top-down view of how I would do the corner joinery. For your laminated beams, cut the inside piece of plywood 1 1/2 inches shorter than the outside piece and then center it on the outside piece when you laminate them. This will create a 3/4 inch "step" on each end of the beam. (In the image, one beam is green/blue, the other is grey/brown to show the individual pieces of wood.) Then your beams will interlock at the corners, giving you lots of glue surface and you can also screw through the corners from the outside faces for a pretty strong joint. To be on the safe side I would also add a triangular corner block on the inside (orange in the image) with more glue and screws. This will expose a cut edge of the plywood (the brown piece in the image), but it should disappear with the application of joint compound and paint.

    I hope this helps. I think if you use these materials and techniques you could build these chairs using just a circular saw with a straight edge guide and a drill/screwdriver.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Tim Thomas; 06-04-2008 at 10:08 AM. Reason: typos
    If I could ever finish working on my shop, maybe I could find the time to start working in my shop.

  7. #7

    Thanks so much for the response. Thats exactly the experienced info I was hoping for. Excellent.

    Thats an observant question regarding the vertical supports. One portion of the assembly instructions that I omitted will make it clearer...

    To explain further, this furniture collection is modular and highly configurable. You can simply lift up the back cushion supports, side cushions, and side tables to rearrange and create a number of different configurations. Pretty cool, in my opinion.

    Avenue Six's Intersection Build-Your-Own Seating Collection
    Last edited by Adam Gandy; 06-05-2008 at 6:24 PM.

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