Sunday, February 16, 2020

Building a Simple Recliner Platform

Sturdy yet attractive

I'm probably within that demographic that could be referred to as the "sandwich" generation where I have young adult children that we are helping to get started in the world, but at the same time, I also have parents that are starting to get a bit older.

While my parents are still active and very capable in doing their own thing, they are also starting to find doing certain things are not as easy as they once were (to be honest, I am getting the same way - after redoing a floor in my house a few months ago, my knees were not very happy with me for a few weeks).

Recently my father mentioned that he was having a pretty tough time getting out of his favorite reclining chair. After some discussion, we figured that if the chair was maybe a couple of inches higher he could get up much more easily.

Now there are chairs out there that have lifting mechanisms that help you get out of the chair, but why spend over a thousand dollars on that sort of thing when there's a perfectly good chair sitting in the living room?

After some discussion, we figured that some sort of platform for the chair to sit on would fit the bill. So, before I left the workshop for the day, we decided that my father would get the measurements for the base of the chair and I would get going with the construction when I returned.

Upon my return the next day, I did get the measurements but was also informed by my parents that they had gone ahead and built their own platform.

My family comes from traditional farming stock where the main focus is function. Aesthetics is very low on the priority list.  When I inspected their handy work, it was indeed a very sturdy and highly functional platform, but from a design point of view, I suppose you could charitably define it as  "rustic".

I had to be a bit careful in how I critiqued their handiwork, but eventually, they liked the suggestion that I could try and clean up their creation a little.

So I grabbed their platform and headed back to the shop

The nice thing with this platform is that I had a very usable prototype which gave me the dimensions and height that I needed.

My goal was to replicate the functional design of the platform, but make such that it was very easy to build and yet still look attractive.

The platform at its core is 2 rectangles with one rectangle nesting inside the other.

The inner rectangle would be the functional base that the chair would sit on with the other rectangle serving as the decorative shell for the platform.

While most recliners at first glance all seem to be the same size, there is actually a fairly large variation in the "footprint" (the part of the chair that contacts the floor) between different models of recliners.

Because of this, the platform needs to be custom to the chair (no "one size fits all" here).

The first thing that needs to be done before building can start is to tip over the chair that you are building the platform for and measure the width of the chair's feet - both at the front and the back of the chair and the length of the chair's feet.

These measurements will serve as the dimensions that we need to make the inside square of the platform.

Based on the prototype that my parents made, it was determined that we wanted to have the platform raise the chair up about 3.5 inches from the floor.

Measuring the width

Measuring length

Once I had the measurements for the chair, it was now time to cut out the wood parts for the platform.

For this build, I drew heavily from my stockpile of furniture grade 3/4 inch plywood and some 4" X 4"  pieces of pine that I salvaged from some pallets that I had on hand.

I first cut out four 4 foot long strips of plywood that were 4.5 inches wide which will serve as the outer shell of the platform.

Next, I took two 4" X 4" posts and planed them down to about 3.5 inches wide on each side. Using the measurement that I got for the length of the chair's footprint, I cut the wood to that length

4 X 4 pine

Next, I took two 3 foot lengths of 1 X 4 pine (I got these from a pallet too) planed and trimmed them to 3.5 inches wide.

Using the maximum width that I got from the front and back of the chair (usually they are the same width, but sometimes the front can be a little narrower than the back), I then cut the pine boards to that length.

All the parts for the inner frame

With the pieces of the inner frame cut out, I then assembled the frame by applying some wood glue on the ends of the 1 X 4 pine and attaching them to the ends of the 4 X 4 pine pieces.

To further secure the boards to the 4 X 4's, I also nailed in some 2-inch brad nails onto the ends.

Applying glue

Securing with brad nails

At this point, the inner frame of the platform is now complete 

Complete inner frame

Next, I then measured the length of the inner frame and cut two of the plywood planks that I had cut out earlier to that length. 

I then glued and attached the plywood planks to the outside of the 4 X 4 pine pieces. Again, just to make sure that everything was secure, I also nailed 2-inch brad nails into the plywood. 

Ready to attach the plywood sides

Sides attached

Nailing in place

Finally, I measured the width of the platform (which would be the width of the inner frame plus the 2 plywood sides that I had just attached) and cut out 2 more plywood planks to that length.

Attaching the end plywood sides

This effectively completed the build of the platform. To finish it off, I used some iron-on veneer strips to cover the ends of the plywood sheets in order to give the platform the look of being made from solid wood.

Veneer and iron

Putting veneer in place

Ironing the veneer

Veneer in place

Trimming excess veneer

After the veneer was applied, all was needed was some light sanding and a couple of coats of spar varnish and the platform was ready for use.

Chair installed on platform

The chair is installed by sitting it on top of the inner frame of the platform.  The plywood sides of the platform provide a one-inch lip around the chair bottom, preventing it from sliding off the platform while at the same time without interfering with the operation of the recliner.

So far I have made two of these platforms, one for each of my parents and they have been quite happy with how easy getting out of the easy chair is now.

1 comment:

  1. This is great work man! A lot of learning here. But one good suggestion is to keep a clearance in the front for use of any adaptive devices in the future. I am right now looking for a platform to use in a recliner but at the same time need 4 inches clearance from the front end to enable a molift legs to go in for the person to get up from the chair