Help me find a new tuffet

I’m in the market for two new chairs for Gadgeteer HQ. I’ve been using the same chair for at least 15 years now. Wow, my chair is actually older than The Gadgeteer ;o) The chair that I’ve been using all this time is similar to this one. There’s really nothing wrong with it, but I’d like to replace the 2nd chair (cheapo task chair) in my office and thought I’d go ahead and just buy two new ones so that they would match.

I spend a LOT of time sitting, so any chair that I buy needs to be ergonomic and comfy. It also needs to have wheels that will not scratch the hard wood floor in my office.

What is your favorite chair and why? Please give me some recommendations.

18 thoughts on “Help me find a new tuffet”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting

    I purchased my chair here for an outrageous price of $800 in 1977. The canvas now is faded only where I sit. Other than that, no other chair I try can match this one in performance. It has excellent lumbar and thighs support which makes it possible to sit for an extended period. The chair did not have any model number (not that I can find), but if you have a Relax The Back store nearby, go and give them a visit. Otherwise, you can visit their website, but my advice is to try it out yourself before you buy. Chair is highly personal; it is one of the items that I do not buy online.

    FYI, I am an extremely tall man at … 5’3″ (heh heh).

    Below is the two snapshot of the chair I took for you, Julie:


  3. haivu:

    I’m not much taller than you at 5’6″ :o)

    I agree that it is difficult to purchase a chair online. Unfortunately, I live in a small town. The only stores here that have office chairs is Office Max and SAMs club. Neither stores as much of a selection though…

    The link to your pictures don’t work for me…

  4. Im sure you already know of or seen the Herman Miller “Aeron” Chair. Comes in Small/Med/Large/X-Large to fit any any sized tush, and capable of a zillion adjustments.
    This chair has been around for over 10 years now, but still remains (IMO) the ultimate “gadgeteer’s” chair:,,a10-c440-p8,00.html

  5. Sorry, and this may be just my opinion, but Herman Miller Aeron’s are way overrated and way overpriced to match. They may be infinitely adjustable (depending on how much you spend on one, because there are several sub-models), but none of those adjustments affect the discomfort of the hard molded plastic frame. Just try and get comfortable in it in any way other than the prescribed seating position and you’ll be greeted with those same hard plastic parts jabbing and prodding you in the worst ways. The very same adjustableness makes them prone to mechanical failure as well — I’ve seen gas struts, switches, levers, buttons, supports and springs go bad on more Aeron chairs than any other I’ve ever seen.

    Granted the mesh panels can be as cushy as a padded seat, but framed in again with hard plastic, they start to dig against your flesh at the seams, especially when the mesh begins to flex and separate at the edges. Mesh keeps you cool in warm weather and prevents sweaty-butt/back syndrome (unlike leather and vinyl surfaces) but unfortunately does nothing to keep you warm when it’s colder. You’ll find yourself tossing a blanket or throw onto the mesh to stave off the chill. Not to mention the meshy impressions the chair will leave on your skin if you’re seated for any real amount of time.

    As much as I love the feel and smell of leather, it does have the drawback of almost no ventilation, even if it’s a perforated surface (which is extremely rare in office chairs). If it’s too uncomfortable, I tend to slip a light throw under my bottom. Cloth usually gets around the sweatyness of leather but is harder to clean when it gets messy, unless you opt to Scotchguard it. If you’re a leather fanatic, there’s some microfiber materials that look and feel a lot like suede and are take more abuse from spilled liquids than the average coarse weave fabric.

    I’ve found that a metal base looks better (for me, cast aluminum in particular, rather than chromed steel) and lasts longer than the plastic ones, though it is cold on the toes if you’re not wearing socks and apt to rest your feet there. Likewise, metal arms are more durable than plastic ones and how they’re attached is important as well. Cheaper construction methods embed plastic or metal receivers into a chipwood frame, of which the connecting screws will loosen and strip out over time, more quickly given adequate torque and flexing. The comfort of the arm rests cannot be understated, the difference between a hard surface and a padded one makes a huge difference for me.

    My most frequent problem is the seat cushion compressing so far down that it no longer provides adequate cush against the tush. I used to spend hours on end at the keyboard (I blame games, mostly) and was able to “wear out” the lower cushion in less than a year’s time on thinner seats. It may be, of course that a more expensive chair equipped with something like memory foam or just a higher quality cushion material will help in that end.

    The arguments against buying chairs online, sight-unseen or test-driven are valid, but I feel your pains of small-town living. I’m surprised that you even have a Sam’s Club and OfficeMax available as local brick-and-mortars. Do you have any local office supply stores around? I personally haven’t bought any seating surface that I haven’t tried out first.

  6. I have to disagree with Tony and agree with everyone else on the aeron. 5 years ago when I went to Phoenix for my sysadmin certification cram/test, the hotel I was at had a aeron at the desk and let me tell you I was forever grateful as I spent alot of time in that chair pouring over the test material so I can pass (I did). I give credit to the chair! I even sat in it to watch TV when I first got in and it was more comfortable then any chair in the room.

  7. Julie,
    I work for a caster supply warehouse. I can hook you up with the right casters for your floor. Most of the ones that come with the chairs even high end chairs are garbage. I found a nice office chair circa 1950 and refurbished it with a silicone chair pad and new leather. It is soooo much nicer than anything I found in my price range.


  8. Thanks for all the suggestions so far! Let me address them:

    haivu, thanks for the photos. The Relax the Back chairs do seem to be close to what I would probably choose. I hesitate to order one without being about try it out first hand though.

    I don’t think the Trey chair would be one I would choose since I never have a need to sit on the floor.

    Regarding Aeron chairs, that’s another style that I know isn’t for me. I have a bad habit (I’m doing it right now…) of sitting non-traditionally with one of my feet on the seat. The mesh seat would prevent me from doing that.

    karrock, what chair do you use?

    gadgetjack, Thank you for your offer to help me find some good casters for hardwood floors. I will definitely take you up on that offer as soon as I find some new chairs. Here’s the chair.

  9. Aeron price has dropped considerably??? Retail base is $1000 and you can option it up to $1400. Sure, you can find them for less, but even half that price is way beyond what I’d ever spend. What exactly do people think is “affordable” for a chair?

  10. Hi,

    I’d recommend a Vitra Ypsilon (, my favorite chair for several years now.
    As it seems, they’ve recenbtly switched to offer this chair exclusively in leather, but if you’re fortunate you might still get hold of one with textile covering (there’s a “mesh” type cover which looks great).

    BTW, it’s the same chair that showed in the control room of “Minority Report” or in the CTU (first season) HQ .

    Cheers, Uli

  11. Uli:

    That chair reminds me of a dentist chair. It kind gives me cold chills ;o) Ha!
    Cool looking, but a little frightening at the same time.

  12. Lemme give you my .02 –

    I HIGHLY recommend you buy your chair at an office furniture store – NOT a warehouse place like Office Max etc. You will get a lot better service and find a chair that will last you years and years.

    Also – remember that any price that you online – you should be able to negotiate on in a furniture store. The fact that you want to buy 2 will also help in negotiating price. Aeron’s may list for $1k – but I know you can get them for 20 – 30% less if you work at it.

    Buying a “real” office chair also allows you to customize the chair just for you – different casters, colors, fabrics, arms, neck support, lumbar support etc. A lot of the higher end chairs have swappable add-ons that make the chair custom for you.

    One other advantage of going to a furniture store is that if you ever cut an arm, crack a caster etc – you are more likely to find a replacement part easily and perhaps even get it for free or little cost.

    Also – many office furniture stores lease chairs – or have loaners that they sell off for signigicant discounts. The chiar I use was over $1k list – I paid $400 for it.

    Take a look at – nice website – that shows a lot of different chairs and gives you a feel for their configuration options. I’d still buy from a local retailer – but this is a good “catalog”.

    In terms of chairs, I use the CXO shown there. I’d give it about a 7 – my dream chair is the Steelcase Leap. VERY well rated and nice alternative to the Aeron.

  13. My experience with the Aeron was never overly positive. While great in the summer when it’s hot (they breathe well), there was never really enough adjustment to get it set up quite right for me. After some back problems, an ergonomist at work got me a Leap chair. This was far more comfortable and way more adjustable. Not cheap, but a great chair. is the basic chair, but there are other variants. Unfortunately when I gave up the job I had to give up the chair as well.

  14. Hi Julie–

    Sorry I missed your question the last time I commented. First of all I’ll have to say that I’m not a fan of spending hundreds of dollars on a single chair. I understand the benefits of ergonomics, high quality materials, engineering and workmanship and yet I still have yet to spend more than $200 on a “computer chair” for myself. I balk at the expense or a chair, but have no problem getting myself electronic gadgets like a 61″ rear projection HDTV, MacBook Pro (and over the years several other preconfigured and homebrew computers), Palm PDA, iPod (more than one), Xbox 360, PS3, PSP, Nintendo DS and accompanying games and accessories. Funny, huh? ;o)

    What I’ve had for the past few years and has served me well, is a $150 (was on sale from $200) aluminum frame leather high back chair from Office Depot. I couldn’t find the exact model on their website, but it’s very close to their “Carlin” (

    I can see myself eventually upgrading the office chair, but maybe not anytime soon, what with my entertainment going HD and gaming focuses migrating mostly towards consoles instead of the desktop PC that I was used to parking in front of for long stretches at a time. Since I rest my posterior in the living room these days (with my MacBook Pro more than enough sufficing for Internet and an on-again-off-again WoW habit), the computer chair sees a lot less of me. Speaking of which I’m thinking I need a more comfortable couch or overstuffed chair now! :o) I usually don’t buy a new chair until I break or get tired of the old one.

  15. What I’ve decided that I will probably do is to just replace the 2nd chair in my office (cheaper one) to match the one I always sit in. I’ll take the new one and my room-mate will inherit my current one. She barely uses her computer, so she won’t complain ;o)

    Here’s a link to a chair that looks very similar to my current chair. Yeah, it’s generic looking, but it’s served me well for many years and still looks and works fine. Might as well not replace it as that’s just wasting money.

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