2 repurposed chairs plus 1 bench=failure

Do you ever have a project fail?  I do.  I never really  have a plan when I jump into a project. I always wing it.  Most of the time that works out okay, sometimes not so much. This would be one of those projects.

chairs to benchI picked up these two chairs at Tickled Pink a few months ago.

orphan chairs (3)It didn’t bother me that they were missing their seats.

chairs to benchI decided to make a bench out of them. I was wishing I had a back and realized that I could use this sign that hadn’t sold yet.

Dremel Multi MaxI needed to dismantle the front rungs of the chairs. I used the Dremel Multi-Maxbecause it does a great “flush” cut.

dismantling a chair with a dremel (4)I also had to use a hammer and a small pry bar because the back of the chair had several nails in it.

IMG_1477These would be said nails.

how to make a benchDry fit.


I used some old scrap 1x’s for this project. Some were from a local lumber store that has been closed for about 30 years.

This is where things.go.wrong. (but I didn’t know it at the time)

double chair bench (10)I made a box for the top boards to rest upon.  (note: the back is no longer attached with clamps)

double chair bench (13)You can see that I used my Kreg Jig® K4  to make pocket holes to assemble the box. I painted the bench and the slats separately.

double chair bench (14)I did so because I wanted to be able to get in between the slatted boards.

After all that, I put the headboard (sign) back on, and realize it’s about this much too short.

double chair bench (16)Major project fail!  What I don’t like about this piece.

  • It’s too long
  • I have to figure out a new back, IF I decide to move forward
  • I don’t like it black

I may paint it another color, I may or may not put a back on it. It may end up in a burn pile somewhere!  (I don’t have one)  I suppose I could put it at the curb to see if anyone wants to pick it up.

Want to hear something funny?  This is not my first double bench project fail. I made another one several years ago. Aren’t we supposed to learn from our mistakes?

IM000575This is the original project fail-double chair bench.


You can probably tell I’ve never had a bench for the end of the bed. In my defense, this bench was NOT made for THIS bed.  I made it for a queen/king sized bed.  I’m not even sure why I took this picture of it at the end of Jamie’s bed.   Good news is, this bench did sell at one of my yard sales.  Ohhh, how I wish I had learned from my mistake.

When will I post another project?

To be honest, I haven’t been in the shop in three weeks.  First, there was Blissdom, then my Birthday weekend, then I traveled to Portland Oregon. I am VERY anxious to get back to work.  I’m sure you are anxious to see more projects.

So, please leave a comment below and tell me I am not the only one that has project failures!  What was your biggest, or your last project failure?


UPDATE:   I changed up this bench, for the better.  I hope you love it as much as I do.

double chair bench (19)I purchase 3 new boards to create the back.

double chair bench (22)I clamped the boards onto the bench and drew a line, then used my jigsaw to curve the boards to match the curve of the original chairs.


double chair bench (27)Spray painted the bench with my HomeRight Finish Max Fine Finish Sprayer, using a light turquoise.


double chair bench (29)I then gave it a black “wash’ with some watered down black paint.

My Repurposed Life How to make a Chair Bench

I’m glad I didn’t give up on this project fail with repurposed chairs! I think this is a very versatile piece, and can be used in a lot of different ways.


See other fun benches below

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A teacher at heart, Gail relishes in the chance not to show off her projects, but to help others find their inner handywoman, step-by-step. Her blog, MyRepurposedLife.com, chronicles her scrap-saving adventures and has been featured on countless DIY magazines and websites, including Women’s Day, Design*Sponge and Apartment Therapy. She is a longtime influencer for both Krylon spray paint and Gorrilla Glue. With a tribe of more than 400,000 followers, Gail is inspiring a new generation of DIYers to pick up some tools and get to work.
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    Speak Your Mind


  1. I love love love all of your benches and the many permutations shown. They are not fails but “Adventures in bench upcycle diversity” ! I’d be glad to have any of them in and around my home. You are phenomenal!

  2. Sandra J. says:

    Good job Gail! I love your sense of humor and determination. The finished bench is inspirational.

  3. Gail, I love where you ended up! The double chair looks so graceful, and I am confident you will find many uses for it. Congrats on a job well done.

  4. I’m glad you didn’t give up!! I love the look of the final bench. I must run now and rummage for some chairs. Thank you for sharing your creativity.

  5. I loved them all but I really think the first one with the sign across the back is my favorite.

  6. I love this bench!!!! as I do all your projects!

  7. I love this chair. Thanks for posting your error so we can learn from YOUR mistakes :) This is what I was looking for and did not realize it yet. I have a 40’s dining/kitchen and this would make a great bench for that period size table, so I do not have to worry about a corner nook this will do it. I want red.
    I have two chairs for the opposite side, now I have to start a search all over for the bench part. This is going to be fun.

    I love my Kreg jigs (I have three) it makes furniture making so easy. It’s simply perfect, you do fine work, mistakes and all.
    Thank you for this..

    • gail@myrepurposedlife.net says:

      Thank you very much Rosemarie for taking the time to leave a comment on this post. I really appreciate it. I’m happy you are inspired by this post to solve your diy problem :)
      I too love the Kreg jigs, I have 3 also. hahahah

      have fun, I’d love for you to share your finished project with me.

      Happy New Year!

  8. It turned out great in the end!! I wouldn’t feel down, i’ve had a few project fails…. my finest was a two drawer end table that I had I picked up with a french provincial lingerie chest for 15$!!! I didn’t want the end table, but figured i could do something with it… Pinterest always makes everything look so glamorous.. My big plan was to take out the top drawer, take off the top and put a back on to make it into a cute little reading seat for my two year old… I tried to get fancy with the back… i traced the design along the bottom of the endtable…. but when it was flipped the other way on the back it just looked like boobies:P i STILL tried to save it by getting out my dremel and etching the boobies into a heart shape… it all turned up looking so wrong lol… junk pile for that one.

    • gail@myrepurposedlife.net says:

      thanks for sharing your story with me. I have had a few that went to the junk pile too. :)

  9. I love your benches made from such apparently hopeless pieces, this one looks great in your final design. I will never look at a couple of seatless old chairs in the same way, thank you !

  10. Anonymous says:

    Planning to attempt my first bench, but I know the headboard I have is not solid wood. In the weather the layer are going to curl. Has any of yours been out of similar material? Will putting a sealer help or just delay the inevitable?

  11. I love all your work soooo..

  12. I love all your works sooooo…

  13. You are WAY too hard on yourself! I like the bench, like the back with the saying, like the colour. If the back is too short, there must be a way to lengthen it.

  14. I have to many failed project to mention, I love the bench in black. Can’t you just cut the boards shorter to to fit? I think it is gorgeous!


  15. I really like the bench – you can send it to me if you don’t want it :). I also like the black even though I normally don’t like black furniture. The white lettering really stands out on it.

  16. Well, if you don’t want this bench can I have it? I love it!
    I have project fails all the time. Recently I wanted to sew a pattern as a new type of art (using just the pattern itself, not material), it failed miserably and I wasted so much time on it. I am unable to throw it out, but don’t want to look at it!

  17. I don’t think that looks like a “fail” at all.
    But I know how you feel. I have a really cool chair that I transformed and CANNOT GET BACK TOGETHER. It’s been sitting in the garage, mocking me, for about a year.

  18. Ummm-Yes, I have many fails. I am like you, not always going in with a clear plan. I like working that way, but it also means I have some major oops.

    I just had one yesterday. I am planning on sharing it today, or tomorrow, or whenever I get around to posting. Like you I have been super busy.

  19. Those chair benches from curved backs can be tricky. When I did my last one I had a terrible time with the seat box. It was so difficult to get the correct angle of the backs once the front of the chair was removed. I had to rework that thing several times before I got it right, and the back never made it onto the bench…same problem as you’re having: despite all the measuring and cutting it still didn’t fit right! If you recall, my triple chair bench sat in the garage a full year because I got stumped at one point and set it aside. When I finally got back to it I had no problems at all! Must be I was just having a bad day way back when I started. I like the black on the bench, but then again black is my go to color. Have you considered making cut outs in the seat and using the bench as a planter? Or even turning the seat box upside down so it makes a box to hold pots. It’s really cute and I can see it on a porch filled with flowers….
    The sign (back) does need to go higher like you had it in the first picture. How about adding a piece of wood to each end of the sign to get the right length again? Your kreg will do the job easily!
    Not a fail, just a challenge. ;)

  20. I never learn, that is why me and the seam ripper are such good friends when I sew, and why I always buy extra paint when paint. The first, second and even third time are usually a fail for me, but I just take it in stride, but I never learn. Maybe it is our age, we do get forgetful sometimes…well at least I do! I think it is the scale of it that is throwing you off. The curves aren’t meeting the back in the right spot. Oh well, just come back to it another day and it will come to you.

  21. Gail–funny girl! NOT a failed project, you just need to make a “simple” revision! I’ll guide you through it if you want–but please don’t throw it on any burn piles!

  22. Oh gosh Gail… if you only knew!
    The latest one was the door shelves I made… I really needed clamps… I really simply needed more time to work on them.

    Just before I left for far northern NV to see the kids and to work on the door shelves… I have a twin sized head board bench I’ve been working on for MONTHS! I refuse to give up! I messed it up and now have to re-do. Grrr…

    Do you remember the Beaded Baseball Card I was doing for my husband? Well… it’s been nearly a year and it sits in the unfinished state… I’m now feeling guilty about not working on it… but I was so disheartened it was (is) hard to go back to it.

    My mother used to tell me, “A mistake is not a bad thing as long as we learn from them.” You, like me, have to do them a couple of times to actually learn anything! How soon we forget! It’s like God is slapping us along side the head… “see… you didn’t listen the first time did you?” LOL

    If all of us bloggers blogged about all of our fails I think there would be a LOT of fails out there!

    I’m sure you want to get back into the shop, but at the same time it’s good for you to have a break. All work and no play makes Gail a dull lady. :)


  23. What a bummer…it was such a cute idea. I can’t even count my project “fails”…it would be too depressing. I know you though…you will get right back on the horse and make something work!

  24. Geez, I wish I could fail that good! I adore all your projects, wishing mightily that I had the guts to do them myself. Fail? You? Not! Only YOU can turn it into a Happy Accident! Think, backwards, upside down and inside out- you’ll get it!

  25. I think you might be too harsh of a critic. I like the bench very much would build a simple back to match the seat. Guess this is one of those time the old adage comes into play. “Measure twice, cut once”.

  26. I hate it when that happens!! When you see something in your head and then the thing in front of you doesn’t look like what’s in your head. I think there might be some type of time warp thing that happens cause then it’s like my brain shorts out and it’s “to the burn pile with you!!!” Saying that like the Red Queen says “Off with his head!” in Alice in Wonderland :)
    For the record I rather liked your bench although black isn’t my decorating color either. Obviously you want to make a bench with chair backs and you’re on your way to getting exactly what you vision. :)
    Good luck!!

  27. Anonymous says:

    What if you just scoot the sign down so there is no gap in the back? Seems to me the curve of the chair backs would mean they are closer together nearer the seat. I love it, black and all, and would have it in my house!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Sniff.Sniff. I loved those chairs before you dismantled them. I’m more of a chair, than bench person since we never have enough chairs around here.

    I always marvel at how inventive and confident you are with wood.

  29. i barely notice the non-reach….. could you just throw some wood putty in there? and frankly, i am glad to see you are normal, just like me. (ok scratch that i am not normal- glad to see we all make mistakes!)

  30. This doesn’t look too bad for a fail! It’s got potential even if it didn’t turn out like you wanted. I see it being used as a plant table on a porch. Or it still would make an excellent bench on a porch or patio. Just set it against the wall and there’s your back. Even though it is low some one could use it as a potting bench. Just sit down and pot your flowers to your hearts content. OR Add a top to the chairs and make it a slightly higher potting bench. Ok I’ll stop there. Hey if I lived close by I definitely would buy it from you.

  31. You didn’t ask, but here’s what I think. What if you cut the backs of the chair down to that first slat, and put a board across the back at the same height? Then paint it a color you like. It would have a lower profile, but that’s not a bad thing. Honestly, I don’t think it looks too long, and I like the black. I think this could totally be salvaged.

    DId I ever tell you about the time I was going to make my own wire birdcage? It turned out like some weird instrument of torture. That never saw the light of day on my blog!

  32. Honestly, I like it. Its not a fail to everyone. If you dont want to keep it or work on it anymore I suggest listing it on Craigslist for at least $100 with pictures. I bet you will get tons of interest!

  33. I dont really think its a fail Gail.. (haha poet and didnt know it).. is there a way to cut/shorten the chair part of it and make it a lower back bench..does that make sense?

  34. Gail,

    You could move this minor setback into the “win” column by cutting partial small semi-circles from the top left and right edges of the sign, thus making the defect into a feature. It would give the back/sign a neat scrolled appearance.


    Scott Phillips

  35. I don’t think this bench is a fail–I think an easy fix would be to remove the sides and cut bottom of the legs off a few inches and reattach–for me I think they are too high for the “arms” of the bench. I like the black and the sentiment a lot. Just a thought…

  36. I agree not really a “fail”! You’re being too hard on yourself! I think most people usually are though.

    I found an old ladder a couple of months ago. It was covered in paint, so I sanded and sanded and sanded, took it apart, and stained it a very dark brown. I had intended on hanging it horizontal on the wall and using it as a makeshift shelf. However, it is not flush with the wall, so my other half said it couldn’t stay. He says it will damage our walls. So it’s new home is propped against a wall to hang our living room blankets on.

  37. There isn’t anything wrong with the bench. Anyone that didn’t know your plan would not even notice what you “think” is wrong with it. I think it is beautiful just the way it is! :-)

  38. Love the bench with the sign! (glad you could sell the other one! lol)

    You rock Gail!!

  39. Anonymous says:

    i think it’s really cool. the only suggestion i would have to help you with the things YOU don’t like about it is: maybe dry brush some vertical stripes on the seat part to fool the eye. instead of the eye following the horizonatal slats, it will break up the length and make it appear shorter. just a suggestion…..but i would buy it. i think she’s a beauty.

  40. Gail-you are being WAY to tough on yourself!! It is pretty cool–I would paint it gray-distress it a bit and put it on a porch with some pillows or in the yard with some flower pots on either side…and yes–i am excited for you to get back in your shop…LOVE your projects!!

  41. Gail-you are being WAY to tough on yourself!! It is pretty cool–I would paint it gray-distress it a bit and put it on a porch with some pillows or in the yard with some flower pots on either side…and yes–i am excited for you to get back in your shop…LOVE your projects!!

  42. I know you see this as a fail, but I don’t. It may not be what you want but that doesn’t mean fail, at least not in my book. I think because you wanted to use that sign as the back is maybe why it’s a fail. And I certainly don’t think it’s too long. Why don’t you make a different back and paint the whole thing a different color. More of a Gail color! Black benches are my thing! HA! Fail would be if you made it and can’t sit on it…then maybe you could call it a fail.


  43. I think you’re being too hard on yourself I love this bench. Maybe add a cross bar a little higher to attach the back too.

    If this is a fail I don’t think I’ll ever post my projects as your fail looks better than a lot of my non-fails…lol!

    You are my inspiration to try re-purposing, keep up the wonderful work!

  44. Oh, don’t you hate that?? You see it in your head & it is perfect… then the finish?? not so much… Happens to me all the time.
    I think you can save it though… I like it so far.. set it aside for a while & then come back to it.. you may be inspired to finish it differently : )

  45. I think it looks fine. I can totally see that bench sitting in my garden.

    I wasn’t sure how that would turn out from the first pictures. But wow. You give me so many ideas.

    I need to go find two chairs for my headboard still sitting here waiting for the right stuff to come along.


  46. Hi Gail…windows Live Writer, eh? Tell me more…please? *e*

  47. Yeah, I think the sign is a little too narrow/short to be with arms that tall.

    I have project fails all the time! I’m in the middle of one right now: I tried to paint the inside of a vase, and there are some definite naked spots. Whoops! It’s hard to get the brush in there at the correct angle.

  48. What ?!?! I LOVE this bench! I love the color, the back and every thing about it. I wish my fails were as awesome as yours.

  49. I say it looks not too bad, I would put it on sale,I reckon,there is always someone who will love what we don’t. In a bedroom piled up with cushions maybe.
    I don’t do huge projects,but do have things not work out with my sewing projects. I always say to myself, it’s never a mistake, it’s an opportunity to be creative. So many mistakes have turned into something special.

  50. I always have fails, most times not a real fail, just me being too hard on myself!

    This would be a great bench if the back had been the right size!

    How about making a smaller bench, find / make a different back, the chair backs look wonderful as the arms of the bench.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me! I read and appreciate every word!