Lower Ashley recliner and add leg levelers
also add release handle to chairs left side
SHE finally got her own recliner (along with small sofa) to replace older corner sectional. She's quite a happy camper. However though doesn't really show in picture, the front half of our living room is an absorbed enclosed front porch. Meaning there is a pretty good slope in the floor. Her chair leans almost an inch to the left. She said she could deal with it but after a few days she finally asked if there was something I could do about it. All I can do is add something under the low side I reply. "But wont that raise the chair even higher?" she asks. "I can barley reach the floor now". WHAT?, sure enough I had her set in chair, her feet barley touch the floor. Good grief. Ok, Ill look at it...So begins the Ashely recliner customization..
Not sure why furniture is built as it is, quite bizarre. Granted, Most homes have flat floors but zero adjustment to level? The couch I had already replaced the legs , or "buns" as they are called with shorter ones. Recliner has no feet. In order to level I'll first need to lower chair to compensate for what I might do to level and still end up shorter in height. Flipping it upside down to see what might be done appears lowering plausible. Noted the base is removable from recliner mechanism. So pulled the base off and took to shop.
NOTE: I'll add this is what I did, thinking simpler & less cost to just modify/rework what I have. I had thought about replacing the bent tubes with straight, it would have been way simpler in the long run just to remake. Or just cutting off bent ends, adding short pieces back with levelers. But nooo-
Doctored picture as I hadn't taken before cutting. The base is 2 pieces. The lower base with feet and upper rocker assembly with the spring packs bolted between holding together. The base are 1" tube runners "C" that are bent at ends to serve as feet. The runners are joined by a pair of 1/2" tubes "D". The upper rocker assembly is top flanges "A" (that bolt to recliner mechanism) that are joined by another pair to tubes D. The wood rocker blocks B are screwed to bottoms of flanges A. The rocker block simply ride on the runners C. The springs are captured in small plates that are bolted between the D tubes of upper and lower 2 halves. So by simply unbolting lower runner base C & D from spring plate, flipping upside down with the 'feet' sticking up, would allow chair to set on bottom of runners. Lowering chair 1 1/4".
The feet on the top could be used to attach levelers. So I did, unbolted, flipped base. Yes this will work, lowers chair and a place to add levelers, However...couple of things became apparent
One is the bolts heads that go thru the runners into spring plates are on now on bottom. Levelers may raise so they don't set on carpet but needs to be minimized. But more importantly when unbolting the springs, they are stretched quite a bit. The D tubes are welded flush to edge of 1" tubes. Flipping lower assembly upside down puts the D tubes of upper and lower assemblies closer together about 1/2". This decreases the amount the springs are stretched. Preload tension on springs is pretty critical. Only answer is to cut off the D tubes from C and move to so distance for springs is as it was and preload tension unchanged
So cut and rewelded. Returning distance between springs, preload unchanged.
For the bolts I replace the metric self tapping hex head with 1/4-20 carriage bolts and nylock nuts. Ground flats on head to get a wrench on to hold as a bit smaller than holes.
So chair will now be lower by 1 1/4", I can address adding levelers which will add some back to height. Initially I thought I would bolt levelers to ends of 'feet'. However seeing the unsupported length they would need to be just to get flush to bottom I think would be too much leverage on them. If it were not for the need to add leveling ability, threading on fixed legs would work at this point.
My solution, screw on piece of 2x2 spanning between feet. Use threaded inserts and screw in leveling legs.
Cut back of the 2x2 so they will butt into corner of bent runners. In my wisdom decided to make a bit wider the runner spread.
Installed the inserts and attached spreaders to runners. Amazingly works pretty nice, was concerned 2x2 might 'roll' .
Subsequently counter bored for inserts. Increases resistance of inserts being torn out by leg leverage but mostly to minimize height legs protrude.
With spreaders & levelers in place set up in what will be level position. As chair sets at an angle to the floor slope the front of chair will see about a 1/2" difference side to side where the back will be more like 3/4"+.
So what we end up with is at the front, left side runner about 1/4" off floor right side about 1/2" which means chair will be about 3/4" to 1" lower than it was yet level! who whoo!.
Fairly simple-fairly lucky but it works. Sanded out and stained, reinstall on chair
Pictures stop here. Worked out better than expected, chair level and lower. However as soon as she went to recline the chair stopped, wouldn't lean back....Flipped chair over, there's is a block of wood on rear of chair that spreader between legs hits. The chairs back cross support isn't one piece, spliced using block to span joint. Err Easy fix. Pry off offending block, use 1/4" plywood glued & stapled new gusset to cover joint on the outside. Reassemble chair- sat in it, reclined and everything works. Fixed!
Wifes pretty stoked, little feets touching the floor and not leaning to one side. However later that evening reclined watching TV she goes to get up to make popcorn. The chair locks up, footrest stuck and wont go in. Getting on the floor I see the footrest arms are stuck against the wood spreader in the front. (Remember my decision to make base wider?) However I also realized she's scooching to front of chair before kicking in foot rest. Causing front of chair , and footrest arms to come in contact with ends of new spreader. It works fine if you kick in footrest first but will be a simple fix, cut off the extra width I added.
Next day took chair base back off and outside. Cut wood spreaders where it was hitting on angled cut back about 1/4" flush to end of legs. Reassemble. Tested and it worked but I had her set in it and try. Again she leans forward to kick in foot rest(just unnatural movement for me) and chair locks. Getting on the floor, its clearing where it was hitting but now hits the remaining wood lower. Ok end needs to be completely square
Removed base again, Cut remain wood at end straight down. Sanded out restained, reinstall. Testing- chair hits again. What? Now the wood is gone its hitting the ends of metal feet. Good grief. Flipping chair over studying what its doing, as i clearance wood it just travel until it hits something else. Now that wood is trimmed back footrest arms are hitting wider smushed ends of the metal feet.
Tired of chasing decided to remove entire recliner mechanism and base from chair. Wished Id seen this when chair was outside but as I need to cut metal (not inside house or chair) removal easier. Back of chair has quick release to simply remove. Remove 4 small bolts into footrest then 4 bolts and entire assembly comes out. Should have done this from the get go. With entire recliner/rocker base assembly out of chair you can see. Once outside became obvious what the issue is. The foot rest arms are parallel to the mount flanges and the sides of bottom runners. With runners mounted upside down the wider part that is flattened to make 'feet' is in the path (and previously wood).
Removed the wood spreader and leveling legs from front of chair. Sawzalled the smushed 'feet' flush with sides of tube. Ground smooth and round. Pull down rocker & mech as low as it would go while flipping in & out the footrest, verified nothing can hit. Actually a 1/4" clear at both ends. Now I need to rework the wood spreader. Distance between edges of cut back metal now less than distance between holes for leveling legs. Moving spreader flush to one end, puts other threaded insert hole outside of metal so can cut off. Redrill relocating insert. Sanded the spreaders and restained aging. Think this is 3rd or 4th time. But pretty sure we got it. Had I taken this thing apart from the beginning I would have seen and this would have not been a problem.
Since I had mechanism out I studied the foot rest and what holds it up. A simple spring holds it open and supports weight of feet. Works but additional weight of my boots and it wont stay up. Drilled another hole to increase spring tension, 1/4" it now supports my feet without making closing really any harder. Why don't they allow for adjustment on these things?
Relocate the recliner handle to other side of chair
Also since apart I studied the handle. Its actually too far forward to easily reach, that and its under overstuffed arms. Mostly though would be much easier to access handle if on other side of chair due to small end table on the right side. This has cable instead of lever so easy to move. Well adding another, leave existing one in place to cover hole with its cable. I found complete handles with longer cables for under $20.
The catch, This chair has 1/2" plywood sides behind the fabric. The right side is solid except for 3"x 3 1/2" hole for handle. The left side though has a huge 3 1/2" x 24" slot cut into it. Why? unknown. But it effectively doesn't allow putting handle where it could be reached. Well I can fix that.
Made a block from 3/4" plywood that's 5 1/2" wide x 6" long. Cut the back 1" in from sides to 1/4" thick to create a plug that is 3 1/2" wide with 1" 'flanges". The block will fit into chair slot, the flanges, allow easy attachment. Though I'm am not installing until new handle gets here. I can slide the 'plug" to where I want it. Copied the existing 3" x 3 1/2" hole from other side and cut hole in plug just a tad larger. Offset hole, so I can slide block forward or back in the chair, raise or lower by flipping, and holes large enough can rotate handle a bit. Allows putting handle once it arrives in that 'perfect' location.
Handle w/ cable arrived! played with locating a bit, decided instead of mounting using the side screws like factory did was hack out a simple 'bridge' and use mount holes thru bottom of handle.
Other than just easier to screw allows simple rotation and some free movement loosening screws. Kinda a hard to tell what your doing working on chair upside down
Mounted plug. Its works nice- but now the really difficult part- cutting thru the fabric on new chair.
In little bitty steps slowly pie cut fabric until it would fold over into hole. Stuck handle thru, attached cable, ran the screws into bridge. Didn't enjoy one second of cutting fabric. But its done. Zipped tie the factory cable out of harms way.
Way easier to access and use new additional handle. Not sure why handles aren't set vertically, which I would have done except for cable length. The angle helps.