Sometimes the furniture you have is ALMOST right, but just needs a little change.  This week we’re going to look at 3 simple do-it-yourself projects: recovering dining chairs, recovering ottomans and making an ottoman out of an end table.

It seems that dining tables last pretty much forever, but it is the chairs that do all the work (especially if I’m sitting in them) and they are what wear out first.  If the joints are loose or the rails under the chair that give extra support aren’t fastened in securely, there are a couple of things you can do.  You can push the base from a stick match in the gap and break off the head (an old trick to tighten hinges) but a better choice is Gorilla brand glue.  Gorilla, or its competitor Excel, is polyurethane glue that expands as it sets up so it’ll fill in the gap nicely.  They do react in the presence of water, so you’ll want to squeeze a few drops of water in the joint before you add the glue.  Because it foams up, you’ll need very little glue.  The most common error is to use too much.  You also need to clamp the chair for the best bonding.  Check after an hour to see if it is foaming outside the joint and wipe the excess foam off since it is rock-hard once it sets up.

The seat on almost every dining chair is removable by just a few screws underneath.  If the cushioning hasn’t softened up, you can simply add another material over the top.  Be sure you cut the fabric with enough left over to go at least an inch underneath the chair.  Fold your selvages under so there’s no fraying and you can staple it down with any staple gun.  I recommend a staple every couple of inches.  The only difficult task is getting nice snug corners and these you fold just like they taught you how to do your sheets at summer camp.

If you decide to take the old piece of foam off first, you can pick up replacement foam (in a variety of densities) at the Foam and Fabric Outlet at 3444 Martin Way in Olympia.  Consider them for the fabric, too, because an upholstery fabric will wear better than most of what you can find at a fabric store.

If you have an ottoman with a cushion on top, the principle and practice is exactly the same.  You can use a staple puller (obtainable at any office supply business) to remove the old staples and then put another piece of fabric over the top and staple it underneath.

So, not surprisingly, you can quickly and easily convert a wood end table to an ottoman.  Being careful to get them all the same length, you can cut the legs to any length that makes the ottoman comfortable for you.  I use an electric chop saw to make sure they’re even. You’ll want to use one with straight legs, the narrower the better, so in their shortened state, they don’t look out of scale to the ottoman.  Again, you’ll just put a piece of foam on top, cover it with fabric and staple the edges of the fabric underneath the table/ottoman, selvages turned under.

While we’re talking quick fixes, got dresser drawers that stick?  If it the drawers are wood sliding on wood, whether a center guide or on the edges, you can reduce the friction with either a bit of candle wax or a bar of soap rubbed on the wood.

As always, if you have questions, comments, opinions or suggestions for future columns, drop me a line at