So far I don’t like my new drafting chair. It may be a lemon. I wish I could have fixed my old drafting chair but alas in this disposable world of ours that was not to be. My old chair was really good. I bought it sometime in the early Nineties and it lasted me about fifteen years. I paid a lot of money for it. Four hundred dollars as I remember. An especially big sum for me back then.

The chair was by Martin Universal Designs and was solid and reliable. I usually work standing and only sit about ten to twenty percent of the time. That means I need a drafting chair for its height. A regular desk chair is way too short. That chair could adjust the seat height and pitch, the chair back height and angle. I even paid the extra money for adjustable arms. It was a good chair. Too bad it’s gone.

What finally broke on it was a weight bearing bolt under the seat. The seat pitched back and forth freely without that bolt to steady it. If it was a regular bolt I could have replaced it easily but it was a specialty bolt. It had a hole in the middle of it for a lever to pass through and was threaded in a couple of places to secure it. Not a common item.

I searched the internet in vain for drafting chair parts. I only found a couple of places that had exorbitantly priced parts for chairs. And none of them were even the part I needed. I remembered the art supply store Sam Flax used to fix drafting chairs but that was in the Nineties. And that was also in Manhattan. Plus the store closed. Not much help to me.

So I made the decision to get a new chair. I bought the last one at Pearl Paint in Paramus NJ all those years ago but I didn’t want to go over there to get one this time. The internet offers a wider variety of things these days and competitive pricing. Art supplies are notoriously over priced. I’ve been trying to save some money and didn’t want to spend a lot on a new chair. But my aching back said I better get one fast.

I searched high and low on the internet and discovered that drafting chairs are in pretty short supply these days. I guess that not a lot of drafting at an old fashioned drafting table gets done these days. Everything is done on computer and in a lower computer chair. The height is not necessary.

I also discovered that the quality of drafting chairs, much like other pieces of drafting equipment, had diminished over the years. I could tell just by the pictures. Sure you can buy a $1000 high end drafting chair but the quality $300-$400 dollar ones, like my old one, were no where to be seen. Plenty of places has $200 chairs for $400 dollars but I’m no dummy. I can comparison shop. It’s easy on the internet.

My back was hurting from standing too much and I was in dismay from not being able to find a good chair. I checked a few local office supply stores but they had nothing good. So I hit the internet again. This time I was able to find a couple of places that sold chairs by Martin Universal Designs. They made my old chair that I liked so much so I decided to get one of these new ones. I could tell it wasn’t as good as my old one because the seat didn’t have tilt control. But few I saw did. As a matter of fact I don’t remember any.

One site had the chair priced lowest at about $140 with a small amount for shipping. Since it was the same manufacturer as my old chair I decided to order it. Even if it was of lesser quality. After all, most of the drafting chairs these days were of lesser quality.

The chair arrived a couple of days later and I easily assembled it. I was clearly of lesser quality than my old one (and didn’t have the same part I needed to repair the old one) but I hoped it would do. Unfortunately as soon as I put it together and went to adjust the angle of the back a lever came right off in my hand. A bad weld that didn’t hold.

A vice-grip wrench used instead of the lever made a suitable replacement and I was able to adjust the back to my liking. Still I was perturbed. A brand new chair should not have bad welds like that. I paid good money for it.

I went back on the web site and wend through their “broken product complaint” section and sent them a message about the problem. I did as I was told and described the part that was broken including the part number. And then didn’t hear back for three weeks.

I was annoyed but my aching back needed the chair, which was perfectly sit-able despite the broken lever, and I was also anxious about how I would return the whole chair. You see once those pneumatic tubes snap into place they don’t came apart. I couldn’t disassemble the chair to put it in the box to return it.

I finally heard from the returns department and they wanted pictures of what was broken. Being an artist/graphics guy/photographer this was easy for me. I worked up a photo with text and arrows describing my problem. And then I didn’t hear back. Annoying but the chair was still sit-able. My back liked it.

This week a new problem with the chair emerged. The pneumatic tube which sits in the middle of the base of the chair is not supposed to go all the way to the ground. But guess what. Now it does. It, in fact, dropped lower than the wheels. I had to pound on the base of the chair with great force to get it to move a bit so that the tube wasn’t dragging the floor. Now after sitting in it for a few days it’s back to the floor.

So today I called the place about this lemon of a chair. I spoke to a very nice woman about my problem and she ended up passing everything on to the returns department which she said was in a bit of disarray since they just expanded (nice to hear of new hirings though). That’s why I may have fallen through the cracks. I’m supposed to hear back from them soon. We’ll have to see. The chair is still sit-able but I don’t know for how long. I sure miss my old reliable chair.