I finished the tub chair for my home office

In this project you will find instructions to make a tub chair and upholster in your choice of fabric.


After making the prototype tub chair last week, this weekend I managed to put together and upholster the tub chair for my office. This chair is full size as per the measurement provided in the original project and is properly upholstered in my choice of fabric.

My office tub chair has lockable caster wheels that allow me to roll around the office easily, it also has lots of padding and a thick cushion so that I get to be comfortable no matter how many hours I spend at my desk.

The design for the chair is almost exactly the same as the original prototype with a few minor differences. This time I used 16mm particle board for the base, seat and top frame. I figured this would reduce the cost of the chair, since a sheet of particle board only costs around R400 for a full sheet at your local Builders.

I couldn't use the pockethole jig to attach the seat to the frame - the pocketholes would decrease the structural integrity. Instead I drilled holes at an angle and then drove in the screws. It worked perfectly and it's a strong join.

As with the original, the outer frame is clad with 3mm masonite, but this time I also clad the interior frame. Because this chair is larger it was easier to bend the masonite around the inner frame. These sections were fastened in place to the top, frame and bottom sections using wood glue and panel pins.

The tub chair was then clad with 25mm thick medium-density foam glued to hold it in place.

After that, the top and bottom of the foam was stapled to the frame. This may or may not have been necessary but I thought it a necessary measure in case the glue didn't hold the foam in place on its own. Finally, foam was glued to the front armrests.

A layer of batting was wrapped over the top of the foam. Not only will this add extra comfort, it also disguises the ugly cut edges of the foam. I managed to tuck the batting around the inside of the bottom - tucked underneath the foam cladding. Allow extra batting to fold over the front of the armrests.

Before cladding with foam the cushion was cut. I would recommend that you use the seat section to gauge the size of the foam cushion.

Cutting the fabric was the next step. I opted to use an entire piece of fabric for the sides, over the arms and down the inside of the frame. To do this I needed to cut the fabric that would be on the inside in order to sew pleats that would pull the fabric taut. I cut 4 sections as shown below. The cuts were cut to the height of the outer sides.

The pleats were pinned until the inside section sat snug against the inside foam. I must be honest and say that this took the longest time. I repeatedly had to remove the pins and adjust until it was a nice fit. Once the fit was correct I sewed the seams, trimmed the excess and then finished off the edges. 

Pin the sections and keep test fitting to make sure the cover fits snug. Work with the fabric inside out (back side) until you know it fits nicely.

With the fabric for the frame sorted it was time to add the fabric for the front of the armrests.  A bit tricky but definitely do-able. Cut two pieces of fabric with extra for seams and pin this in place. Both the cover and the piece for the armrests shown be face down on the chair.

Adjust the fitting and re-pin until you have a tight fit and then sew, trim and finish the edges. 

At this stage we can staple the outer fabric to the base of the frame, making sure that the inside frame pleats are on top of the frame all the way around. Start at the back of the chair and pull taut before stapling to the base. I applied a double row of staples all the way around. 

Now you can move to the inside and secure the fabric to the chair seat. Again, pull the fabric taut and staple to the seat as close to the side edge as possible.

To finish off the cover the for the chair itself the fabric was stapled down to the frame and front supports.

I used a piece of masonite to make the front panel and covered this with thick batting.

A piece of fabric was wrapped over and stapled at the back. Make sure the corners are not too bulky or you will find that the panel will not sit flat on the front of the chair.

Use 40mm panel pins to secure the front panel onto the front of the chair. Hammer the pins in at an angle and you will notice that they pop through the fabric and won't be seen. Your panel pins should have a small head on the top in order for this to work properly.

To finish, the cushion was upholstered using a front and continuous side panel and a top and bottom. The top was attached to the side/front section and then the foam cushion inserted and the bottom panel hand sewn in place.


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