Most of us in Tahoe started out in a rental house with wood-paneled walls, furniture from the ’70s, and likely, a gaggle of old skis in the basement. As we fell in love with Tahoe, many of us stayed and bought homes.
Greg Mickiewicz is one of those people. A Lake Tahoe resident of nine years, Greg owns Tahoe Marine Supply and lives in Tahoe City with his fiancé Taylor White. When the couple bought their house in 2013, they also inherited an eclectic ski fence installed by the previous owner.
“It was the world’s ugliest ski fence, people would line up to take pictures with the fence and they weren’t happy when I took it down,” says Mickiewicz.
Sick of living in a fishbowl, Mickiewicz took down the ragtag ski fence in 2014. Instead of the fence, he now had a pile of skis. But, he also had an idea. Mickiewicz wanted to make ski chairs and he has figured out the world’s easiest way to do so.
“It’s super simple, anyone with a basic knowledge of tools can do it,” said Mickiewicz, who made two chairs before giving away the rest of the skis, so other people could make chairs too.
I was one of the lucky ski recipients, scoring seven pairs of vintage Atomics. Mickiewicz gets his “kit” at ACE Hardware. A “kit?” I ask.
Mickiewicz clarified that what he calls his “kit” is a wooden Adirondack chair that he orders from acehardware.com. And after ordering mine, I can say it really is the perfect ski chair kit.
Thankfully, Mickiewicz has all the tools to build the chair and enjoys “building anything.” He generously offered to show the steps and one evening, I arrived to Mickiewicz’s garage, skis and chair in tow, and we got down to business.
STEP BY STEP
Gather your skis and lay out your design, using three pairs and one single ski (for the middle, tallest of the chair’s back). The chair will end up with the tapered look of a ski, so the middle ski is tallest and the three around it fall in descending order.
Next, put the Adirondack chair together using the included instructions in addition to your own drill. The directions are easy to follow: Put the spine of the back together — but don’t put the slats on, the skis take the place of those.
After your chair is assembled, start cutting the skis.
Begin with the middle ski and measure 40 inches from tip to center of the ski. Forty inches is a good starting point — this is a rough measure for the tallest person who could possibly sit in the chair.
Then, cut the metal skis with a reciprocating saw (aka Sawzall). Old skis aren’t easy to cut — a stable workbench will make this easier and safer. Stick with your design, and cut 2 inches shorter on each ski as you work outward, to get the desired tapered look.
Measure each ski against the horizontal slats that run across the back of the chair and drill a hole at the spot where the ski will meet the wood.
Now, screw the skis to the back of the chair. Center your middle ski and drill the screw through the middle hole and then the bottom hole. Work your way outward from the middle ski until all the skis are in place, and voilà! Just two hours later, you have a brand new ski chair.
Paint or stain the wood to give it a finishing touch.
Each old ski has a story. It’s fun to think about where the skis have been and who their previous owners were. I suggest scavenging the thrift shop or taking the freebies along the road, to make a beautiful Tahoe relic that you can enjoy in your backyard, or porch, or wherever you envision your new chair to go.