An Easy to Build Wood Chair Design

Mark Jordan describes a low-cost, easy to build wood chair design he created from salvaged wood. The article includes detailed instructions, supply list and diagrams.

| July/August 1986

Reprinted from MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 90. 

If you thought only seasoned woodworkers build furniture, think again. Try this low-cost, easy to build wood chair design. (See the chair diagrams in the image gallery).

An Easy to Build Wood Chair Design

The chair is a common piece of furniture, yet it's probably one of the most difficult home furnishings to make. Why? Because these usually delicate-appearing seats must be built to withstand the stress of people leaning back on the rear legs, and often rely upon some complicated joinery techniques.

However, I'm not an accomplished woodworker, and I've come up with an alternative design that even a novice should be able to cobble together fairly quickly, an easy to build wood chair design that uses nothing more than a hammer, a saw, some nails, a punch, and a bottle of glue. It incorporates simple joinery—lap joints—and the structural strength of a truss framework to make a truly durable chair. My dining set has withstood five years of abuse from adults and children alike. As for aesthetics . . . well, you decide. I think the design looks great, particularly when you consider the price: zero, in my case (because I used salvaged wood) . . . or anywhere from about $2.50 per chair (for medium-quality spruce) to around $8.00 (for clear-grade hardwood) if you buy the lumber from a mill or retail supplier.

I call my creation the truss-worthy chair . . . and if you've got a few moments, I'll tell you how to build one.

The Jig

First, you'll need to make a jig: a guide that will help you position the components accurately to assure that all of your chairs will be identical in design. To build one, just round up some scrap plywood and a few pieces of 1 by 2 lumber (the actual measurements will be 3/4 inch by 1-1/2 inch). Now, keeping an eye on Figure 1, proceed as follows:

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