Meanwhile, I've also been working on patching up and re-upholstering the dining room chairs. These old things were a find, literally, 8 years ago, and I wanted to do something useful to distract the worrying part of my mind so I decided to tackle the wooden chairs. Taking off the existing vinyl seat coverings revealed what looked like straw, wood shavings, and what might once had been cotton batting as the padding materials. Yuck! Under that mess, I found the seats were actually originally wood frames that -- either originally, or as an early modification -- had the padding as an insert rather than covering the entire frame. What was in the insert hole was a thin piece of plywood, many of them cracked from where someone likely stepped on the chair. The frames themselves were in fair to poor shape, the wood full of nail-holes large and small, voids in the wood, and dowels exposed or loose.
I've spent the last several days filling holes with wood putty, tracking down matching hardware (wood screws, bolts and nuts) to replace missing ones, gluing down outright breaks, and re-drilling holes and replacing dowels. I picked up four pads of foam and cut them to shape with a hot-knife, and today I created a pattern for the new covers. The one chair with arms proved to be a bit annoying as the wood putty I used wasn't the harder 'carpenters fill' kind, so the screws just ripped out of their holes again... time for another drill-and-dowel operation. I really can't afford to replace the plywood inserts, so I did what I could with laying glue to stabilize the weak ones and re-nailed them into the seat frames. What remains is the drawing out and cutting of the covers, stapeling the covers to the seat frames, then screwing the seats back onto the chairs and I'm done. Whee!
There's nothing like a little manual labor to feel like something's been accomplished. :)