Chair for a Little One

For my final project, from the very beginning, I wanted to make something for my one year old son. He just started walking a couple of months ago and is going to need a chair soon.

As I began to sketch out options, I came back to that previous theme of wanting to anything I cut appear to be fully three-dimensional. This meant that 90-degree angles had to be used sparingly and joints needed to be designed thoughtfully.

This is the version I moved forward with.

I’ve never designed a chair before let alone one for a toddler, but I think this one will work. Hopefully. I took some inspiration from the Tolix chairs in the way that their legs flair out and wrap around the corner.

Tolix Marais A56 Chair
Exploded isometric showing various pieces.

The legs of my chair only flair forwards and backward, but are straight on the sides. The armrests curve up from the front of the chair and then curve along a different axis to join in the back, forming the backrest.
I was able to achieve this effect but creating a joint in between the two curves and using a separate piece of wood.

I got to work cutting right away and for the most part, the pieces came out great. Because both sides of the wood would be exposed, I employed a technique where I would pause the job at the halfway point and switch from a down-cut bit (which preserves the top surface at the expense of the blowout on the bottom) to an up-cut bit.

Chair legs after being cut which visible hole ‘dimples’

I also used my 1/8″ round end mill to create hole markers for when I drilled holes into the wood. In reality, I was considering using screws to put this together which meant that I couldn’t use any of my bits to drill the holes on the CNC. I later chose to use dowel pins, which means it would have been better for me to cut the 1/4″ holes during the CNC cuts. I instead used the drill press, which worked fine.

Pieces cut and ready to assemble
Chair mocked up with tape.

The pieces all looked correct and fit together nicely. The next step was to round out the edges using the hand router. The back, in particular, would be very uncomfortable if it kept its sharp edge. I then used sandpaper to clear off any burn marks from the hand router and smooth out the wood so it was safe enough for a toddler.

Trying to get this chair splinter free.
Drilling out the holes for the dowel pins.

The next step was to drill out all of the holes. The dimples I made worked really well in letting me move quickly to drill each piece instead of measuring out the different hole locations. I made the same mistake, however, that I made in this project and forgot to check the direction of the grain on the top and bottom veneers. This caused the veneer to chip away between the holes and the edge creating a not-great appearance.

Glued up and drying

Unfortunately, this is going to be a to-be-continued kind of post. The chair is still drying and still needs a bit of work, but its pretty much there. The glue is currently still drying. Whats left to do is to apply another round of sanding, maybe add a finish of some sort and check to see if my kid likes it. If he’s anything like his parents, he’ll have some opinions. Fingers crossed.

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