Patrick and I are notorious for rushing into a purchase without really thinking it through or taking the time to look for better options. Such is the case with these saddle stools. We had a cocktail party of sorts and wanted to have bar stools available for our guests. So we basically bought the first decent and affordable stools we could find.
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Now don’t get me wrong, saddle stools are just fine and they work really well in a lot of homes, they just aren’t my favorite style. More importantly we had purchased the stools in black and black is all wrong for our house. After about 5 years of regretting the purchase, I finally decided to do something about it.
I started by removing the seats from the framework. After removing the screws, I had to carefully pound on it with the hammer to break the old wood glue that was holding it together. A couple of swift hits from the bottom and they popped right off.
I wanted to remove the black paint and also flatten the seat to remove most of the standard curve of a saddle seat. I am lucky enough to have a planer so I was able to do this the easy way, but it can definitely be done with some serious sanding. First I removed only enough to clear the paint from the bottom of the seat.
Then I started in on the top. Running it through the planer over
And over again. If you are using a sander instead, start with a super heavy grit, once you have removed all of the paint and reduced the curve, start stepping up the grit until you have a nice smooth surface again.
Then I ran all of edges through the table saw. That took off the paint,
And also removed the curved corners,
Because I was aiming for more squared corners.
After sanding everything smooth again,
It was finally time to stain the wood seats.
The easiest part of the whole project was the legs. Since they were kitchen stools and likely had some grease on them, I started with Krud Kutter. If you aren’t familiar with this product, you don’t know what you are missing. It cuts through grease like nobody’s business. It also does a great job on the waxy finish that accompanies most laminate pieces, which is how I discovered it. If you haven’t already read my post about painting Ikea laminate, you can find it here.
Anyhow, after a quick degreasing, I sprayed a coat of grey primer,
and finally 2 coats of Flat Soft Iron. I wanted to legs to give the impression that they could have been made from square stock metal, and I was really pleased with the finish this paint gave.
With the legs and seats both completed, it was time to put the stools back together. I squeezed in some wood glue, then lined up the holes on the bottom of the seat,
and used a hammer to get the seat back on. I used a piece of scrap wood to make sure I didn’t put hammer dents in the seat.
Then I re-inserted the screws that held it all together.
The final step was adding some “industrial” accents. I bought these corner braces to add to the corners of the seats, but obviously chrome wasn’t the right finish for this project.
Earlier in the week, I decided to try an experiment. I placed the braces in a bowl of vinegar. I knew that, with enough time, the vinegar would eat away the outer coating and begin to oxidize the metal underneath, I just didn't know how much.
They sat in the vinegar for about a week, and the result was pretty good. They lost the shiny finish and began to rust in a way that really looked like they had aged authentically.
There was one big problem though. They looked great, but they blended in with the seat color. I wanted them to really stand out, so I decided I would need to paint them instead.
Before I got to painting, there was one more thing to take care of. These braces are meant to be screwed from the inside of the corner and that wasn’t what I would be doing. See the angle on that hole?
I needed it to go the opposite direction so that the screw heads would be flush with the metal of the brace. Since they were going to be on the corner of the seat, I didn’t want anyone to get scratched. So I found the drill bit that matched the size of the original recess,
then flipped the brace over and drilled a new recess.
You can see here that the screws are nearly flush, but I should mention that this does jeopardize the strength and integrity of the brace. These are purely decorative and won’t be needing any strength.
It was rather tedious, but I drilled out a tiny bit on each of the holes, and then ran the screws into place.
This also provided the perfect set-up for painting the brackets. I used the same soft iron from the legs and got a beautiful finish. We actually did this project last fall and the paint has held up perfectly. I suspect that the vinegar soak really helped with that.
The last step was to install the brackets. I feel like that little detail made a huge difference.
I couldn’t be more pleased with the way they turned out.
The saddle stools served their purpose, but I feel like, after the makeover, these stools are an actual part of our décor.
They complement our home and our style,
whereas before, they felt a bit like a necessity that I had to accept.