Retro patio furniture never goes out of style. "Retro," in this case, is a term applied to contemporary items that incorporate design elements from the 1930s through the '60s, before design took a turn toward cinder stone architecture and avocado appliances. Like malt shops and sock hops, retro is pure Americana. The wooden lawn chair and retro chaise lounge featured in this article are heavily influenced by 1960's design concepts. They are fun, functional, and easy to build. So, what are you waiting for? Who knows? Maybe Elvis will come for a visit. Get out your saber saw and crank up the rock 'n' roll, but don't get any sawdust on your blue suede shoes.
The materials list is in the Image Gallery. Although redwood is specified, cedar is also a good option.
You can also download PDFs of the plans: Wooden Lawn Chair Plans, Wooden Lawn Chair and Chaise Lounge Plans 1 (Illustrations A and B) and Chaise Lounge Plans 2 (Illustration C).
Retro Wooden Lawn Chair
- Create a 1-inch-by-1-inch grid pattern on one of the 8-foot redwood 2-by-12s. Recreate the curves full scale on the board using Illustration A as a guide.
- Cut out the shape using a saber saw.
- Use the cut-out shape as a template and trace the shape on the remaining 8-foot 2-by-12 and cut it out.
- Clamp the two frame pieces together and refine the curves with a wood rasp to make both sides identical. (Note: A good wood rasp is well worth the price. Choose one that has a rough and fine tooth flat on one side and a rough and fine convex tooth on the other.)
- With the two sides still clamped together, drill all the holes, making sure that they're perpendicular to the surface.
- Sand the redwood to a desired smoothness.
Joining the Frame Pieces
- Cut four 1-inch hardwood dowels to exactly 24 inches. These are the cross-brace dowels.
- Cut all of the seat slats to 24 inches long. You will need 20 to 24 slats depending on your spacing.
- Coming in 1 inch from each side, drill and countersink the two mounting holes in each slat end.
- Sand the top edges to a quarter-inch radius.
- Use eight of the slats to evenly space the frame pieces (four on top, four on the bottom). Temporarily screw them in place.
- With the frame pieces now spaced exactly 24 inches apart and parallel to each other, epoxy the four cross-brace dowels in place. (See Chair Assembly Illustration )
- After the epoxy has cured, screw on all of the seat slats. Use one of the slats for a spacer.
- Cut out the four backrest pieces from the boards traced using Illustration A. Make the contours match just as you did the frame pieces.
- Measure the distance between the frame pieces.
- Cut 10 to 12 backrest slat pieces to the dimension just taken but make them an eighth inch shorter: The backrest sides must fit inside the frame pieces. Drill, countersink the mounting holes, and sand the quarter-inch radius just as you did the seat slats.
- Drill all of the holes for both lag bolts and hardwood dowel.
- Screw all of the backrest slats in place (10 to 12 required).
- Attach the backrest support arms to the backrest using carriage bolts.
- Install the backrest using lag bolts.
- Epoxy the support arm dowel. Ensure the spacing is consistent.