This is my $3.00 chair.

This is my $3.00 chair.

I bought it on Friday from the used-furniture pool at Caltech for $3.00.

I took My $3.00 Chair home on Friday night and promptly set to work on removing the cushions for reupholstering. So easy, right? This will be quite a productive Friday evening.

Except for three stripped screwheads.

After trying tape and a rubber band to increase the driver’s grip, and trying to Dremel a flathead slot into one of them (haha, precision metalworker i am NOT), I tried two extractors that I bought at various hardware stores: +$10.00

Still no luck. Oh well, let’s sand some finish off manually to feel productive, despite the chance that I may never even get those cushions off. Off to the hardware store for late-nite shopping. Need a coarser sanding sponge! +$6.00

Omg and I’ll need new screws to replace those old ratty ones +$6.00

Maybe if I try gluing a bolt to those stripped screwheads with mega-glue? +$5.00 …Nope

Maybe the kind folks at Arnold’s Frontier Hardware will lend a hand. So, after toiling at home on Saturday for a few hours, I lug the whole thing into the shop, and a kind gentleman promptly whisks the chair back to their workspace and grinds the heads off of the screws and pries them loose. Refuses to let me pay him. +$0.00

So I respond by buying more sanding/finishing equipment at Arnold’s: +$10.00 (knowing I’d be back there sooner rather than later)

It turns out that my ideal finish — aged driftwood — is unicorn-rare if you’re impatient like me and don’t feel like driving all over town looking for it, so Amazon it is while I do other things. Can only buy in a quantity large enough to finish a boat: +$19.99

None of my existing fabric will do, since this is My $3.00 Chair. Off to Joann Fabrics to buy some spanky new upholstery fabric: +$8.00

Swing by my friend Carmen’s to borrow her staple guns and supplies +$0.00 (YAY, CARMEN!!)

Swing by my parents’ house with the musty sad cushions from My $3.00 Chair, and Dad kindly helps me dislodge a remaining headless screw from its unseated bolt using his fancy can of screw lubricant (?) +$0.00

Glue the inner screw workings of the cushions to the backing within an inch of their inner-screw-working lives using Dad’s Gorilla Glue: +$0.00

Reupholster cushions with spanky new fabric !!! using an array of borrowed staple guns !!! +$0.00

But what if I spill my juice box on these new cushions for My $3.00 Chair?!
Back to Arnold’s for Scotchgard protectant spray +$8.00

Now that I’m inspired by the spanky new fabric for My $3.00 Chair, I’m ready to do some major sanding back at home. Neighbor has kindly offered me full access to her supply of hardware and power tools. I fire up the power sander with great enthusiasm, and am scared beside myself by a loud BANG! twenty seconds in, accompanied by a burst of plastic pieces shooting out of the airholes (? airholes) in a spectacular display of shrapnelry (? sure). I am now holding a Black & Decker maraca. Thankfully, I am not wounded, though I might have peed myself a little

Run (well, drive) back to the hardware store for a replacement sander: +$30.00
Sympathy card to comfort my neighbor on the conversion of her sander to a maraca +$3.00
and some ANSI-Z87.1-compliant wraparound safety goggles per the angry caution statement on the side of the sander box +$6.00
and a respirator +$5.00
some gloves +$5.00
and some coarse sandpaper for use with the sander +$7.00

Get back home, suit up, drag the chair as far away from civilization as I can to avoid annoying the crap out of the neighbors, get to sanding. I’m thirsty, want water +$0.00
2.5 hours later, want more water +$0.00 and more water $0.00

6:30pm on Sunday. Finish sanding, antsy to stain My $3.00 Chair before nightfall so that I can have some cred in calling it a One-Weekend Project to those who might care (me). Go to mix my stain (it comes in a packet with instructions), and it notes that I’ll need a pinch of baking soda to prevent it from giving the chair‘s driftwood patina a blue tint. Coated evenly in a 1/8″ layer of sawdust, I sheepishly toddle next door and knock, asking for a pinch of baking soda in a traditionally neighborly fashion. Donna kindly obliges and pours a generous amount of baking soda into my tupperware. +$0.00

Mix and stain, being obsessively careful not to also patina the concrete porch. It’s getting dark out here, but I think things look greyish? +$ Yay

But what if I spill my juice box on the wood part of My $3.00 Chair?! frown emoticon
Was unable to find matte varnish at the mom-n-pop, so I bought satin.  +$12.00
Tested it somewhere inconspicuous and realized that it would darken the driftwood color too much either way, so I just re-treated with the driftwood ager to get it just a shade darker:  +$0.00

This is how My $3.00 Chair became my $144, “$3.00 Chair“….

During my adventure, I picked up the following quest items:

enough driftwood treatment to do a bazillion more chairs
safety goggles
a respirator
heavy-duty gloves
satin varnish
a new sander
lots of sandpaper
scotchgard spray
baking soda
and a maraca

Can I interest anyone in a “gently used” Black & Decker maraca?

Leave a Reply