DIY Deck Chair for Only $10

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DIY Deck Chair for Only $10

By Jared Erwin, Houzz

The days of old iron patio furniture are behind us. We’re all about going green and reclaiming materials for new purposes! Today the possibilities with pallets are endless, and the materials are often free. If you’ve got access to pallet wood and basic power tools (and the skills to use them), this project shouldn’t take longer than an afternoon.

Make sure you’re obtaining your pallets legally. Just because you see a stack of pallets behind a store doesn’t mean they are free and available for you to take. Always ask first. You can also search online to find free stashes in your area. If you can find pallet wood that’s already disassembled, I recommend taking that route — some cities and towns have pallet reconditioning businesses that give away pieces they can’t use.

Related: Relax in One of These Outdoor Rocking Chairs

Skill level: Medium to advanced. You should be comfortable with basic power tools, such as drills and saws. Understanding measurements and angles is necessary, too.
Time: 2 to 4 hours
Cost: About $10
Safety precautions: Pallet wood is rough and has its share of splinters and nails, so take your time and be careful while handling it. Pallet wood also has, or has had, nails in it, so be extra careful when cutting it — avoid those nails! Safety glasses and gloves are a must for this project.

Jared Erwin, original photo on Houzz


1-pound box of 2-inch exterior wood screws. I prefer to get self-drilling screws; even though I still predrill a hole for each screw, they hold better longer.
Pallet wood. If you can be picky with your pallet wood, avoid choosing wood with lots of nails, splits or cracks. I like to look for a brand mark — it gives the chair character.

Disclaimer: You are responsible for the structural integrity of your chair. Please ensure that you build a chair that’s safe to sit in.

Related: Get More Ideas for Outdoor Projects From These Deck Photos

We were fortunate enough to get our pallet wood disassembled. If you have to take apart your pallets, make sure you have a pry bar and a hammer. If you have access to a reciprocating saw, it will make your life much easier, but disassembling can be done without one. Once you have your wood, separate it by thickness.

Jared Erwin, original photo on Houzz

I made this cheat sheet to help me mark and cut my pallet wood at the proper angles. The rails on the chair’s base will be cut on a 20-degree angle on the front and on the end (see first photo for the final result).

Each of the seat base rails will be 37½ inches long. Cut the angle starting 1¼ inch down from the edge of the wood.

Jared Erwin, original photo on Houzz

Here are each of the seat base rails with the appropriate front and back angles. Square cut each slat for the seat base — each one should be 24 inches long. There will be a ¾-inch space between each piece.

Make sure you have enough slats to cover 20 inches of seating space.

You’ll assemble the seat back in the same manner as the base, but using different measurements. The seat back rails should be 36 inches long each, with a 10-degree angle cut at the base of each rail piece.

The slats for the seat back will be 22 inches long, with a ¾-inch space between each slat. These measurements should allow the entire seat back and rails to fit inside the seat base rails. Make sure you have enough slats to cover 24 inches down from the top of the seat back.

Jared Erwin, original photo on Houzz

From the front of the seat base, measure and mark at 20¾ inches; this is where the seat back rail will intersect the seat base rail.

Attach the seat base and seat back sections at your marks with four screws on the inside of the seat back rails.

Jared Erwin, original photo on Houzz

Cut two 20-inch seat posts from your pallet wood and mark them each at 13¼ inches from the end. Raise the front of the seat base rails to your mark and attach them to the posts with three wood screws each.

Jared Erwin, original photo on Houzz

Measure 20 inches from the ground to the seat back and make a mark on each side rail. Cut two 33-inch long armrests out of your pallet wood. Place each armrest on top of the front post and just above the mark you made on the seat back. Attach each armrest with wood screws on the front post and seat back.

Use an electric palm sander and 80-grit paper to go over all of the slats, side rails, armrests and posts. Round off any corners that may be sharp, and spend extra time rounding off the front edge of your seat.

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