Finishing the Funeral Chair (in Blue)

Construction and assembly of the Funeral Chairs was only half of achieving the look I wanted. Subtly changing the aesthetic Tom Fidgen went for on his original, I opted to dye my chairs blue before finishing them.

With the construction done, it was time for finishing.

I began by adding a few drops of TransTint blue dye to a ½ lb cut of dewaxed shellac. The TransTint only requires a tiny amount to add plenty of color. As the blue coats the insides of the TransTint bottle and obscures how much has been squeezed out, it is difficult to tell how much has been added. I usually end up putting in too much TransTint.

Once I had the shellac and TransTint mixed, I applied two (2) coats with a rag. Though the second coat doesn't add too much in the way of color, the fact that the layers of shellac dissolve into each other allows for great blending and even color distribution. This adds dramatically to the consistency of the color.

Rich, consistent blue.

With the dye finished I hand sanded with 320 grit paper. Still there were miscellaneous loose fibers that would push back into the voids in the Timberstrand rather than sand off.

After vacuuming and running a tack cloth over the sanded chair, I began rag applying Arm-R-Seal. I let each coat dry overnight and after the second coat, I sanded between each with synthetic 0 steel wool.

Each coat of Arm-R-Seal added body and gloss to the finish.

I'd aimed for 5 coats of Arm-R-Seal. Unfortunately the deadline of the Long Island Woodworkers Club Show meant that I was only able to apply 4 coats. After the last, I sanded with synthetic 0000 steel wool. The body built up by the Arm-R-Seal captured the loose fibers which had persisted through the shellac. When it was all done, I was quite pleased with the smooth texture and the overall finish.

The depth and tone of the color on the Timberstrand is wonderful.

This close up shows the variation you get.

With the abbreviated finishing schedule wrapping up the day before drop off, it was soon time to take the Funeral Chair in Blue to the show. There, I was surprised to find that all of the chairs in the exhibit hall were commercial made versions of the Funeral Chair.

My Funeral Chair in Blue next to one of the exhibit hall's commercially made Funeral Chairs.

The chair was a popular piece at the show and the vibrant blue color was a major point of interest.

One of the chairs is now wrapped up in a wooden box on its way to Colorado. The other is proudly serving as supplemental seating in my dining room. 

I took every precaution I could in packing the chair.

Travel safe, my friend.

Our chair, ready for duty.


I can't finish my posts about the Funeral Chair in Blue without giving thanks to Tom Fidgen. Besides taking the design (and name) from his wonderful book The Unplugged Woodshop: Hand-Crafted Projects for the Home & Workshop, Tom was a tremendous help. When I had questions about the joinery during the initial construction phases, he patiently answered each one and helped me make sure the chairs went together and folded properly. Thank you Tom.

Thanks, Tom.

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