How to Build a Stylish Outdoor Chair

This post is for those who are curious about how to build a stylish outdoor chair. It is being written as a companion piece for video footage that shows a step-by-step process of building a chair using 4 x 4 timber. Viewers will see the assembly in progress and can follow along with their own versions. Suggestions are provided for tools that speed up the process. Also, tips are given that make the final product clean and level.

Supplies Needed

Wood Glue

Glue applicator

(5)4X4 Douglas fir

(14) 5 in Lag Screw

(1) 7/8 wood dowel

Lumber Dimension

Arm & Seat: 9 Pieces cut to (26.5in ) (673.1mm)

Front and Back: 3 Pieces (24in) (609.6mm)

Corner of Leg: 4 Piece cut to (22in) (558.8mm)

Seat Support: 2 Piece cut to (21inx 1.5in X 1.5in)(533.4mmX38.1mmX38.1mm)


Stain Brush

Step by Step Instructions

This project begins at the store. Builders will need to get five 4x4 Douglas Fir, 14 5-inch lag screws, 14 long wood screws, one 7/8-inch wood dowel, wood glue, an applicator, wood stain, top coat, and two brushes.

Once the lumber is home, cutting the lumber to length can begin. Nine 26.5-inch pieces will be needed for the arms and seat, three 24-inch pieces for the front and back, four 22-inch pieces for the leg corners, and two pieces cut to 21 x 1.5 x 1.5 inches for seat support.

After the parts are cut to length, all of the surfaces need to made level and smooth.

The next step in this new chair project is to take a leg timber and cut rabbets into each side. Cuts should be approximately 1.5-inches in depth.

Repeat this process two more times, so that three of the leg boards with rabbet joints.

After those cuts are made, it will be time to make the cuts on two pieces of timber that will be used as the edges of the seating area. For these, a 1.5 x 1.5-inch cube should be removed from one corner of each side.

Repeat this process on the second board.

After the cuts have been made, the assembly can begin with one of the arms. Take the four pieces of timber to be used for the arm and place them on a bench in a squared up position.

Apply wood glue to the surfaces that will connect. The glue will not only provide a strong bond, but it will also reduce movements that can cause squeaks that are often produced by a modern chair.

Once the glued pieces are placed together, use clamps to apply pressure on the joints as they dry. If large enough clamps are not available, ratcheting tie-down straps can be used.

Repeat this process for the other arm assembly.

To provide greater fastening strength, lag screws will be added to each joint. Begin by marking the center of each joint face on both arm assemblies.

Use a 7/8-inch Forstner or paddle bit and drill a center hole to the depth of approximately 1.5-inches on each joint face.

Once these larger holes are made, take a smaller wood drill bit and bore out pilot holes for the lag screws in each of the larger holes.

Next, insert a five-inch lag screw into each hole and drive them into the wood until the heads are recessed completely.

Once both arms pieces are finished, they can be placed in an upright position on the bench.

Use two pieces of scrap wood of the same dimensions and clamp them on the bottom of each arm piece. This placement should be on the same ends and opposite to each other. These pieces will help to ensure that the front and back of the seat are at the same height when the build is completely finished.

The back and bottom of the seat are ready to be attached. Begin this process by placing the back and bottom timber between the two arm assemblies, one placed at the end of the arms and the other butted up against the scrap wood.

When satisfied with the positioning, apply glue to the ends of these pieces and reposition them.

Place clamps to apply pressure on the joints as they dry.

With these pieces secured, remove the wood scraps and move them to the front portion of the arm assembly and re-attach them with clamps. They will now be used to adjust the height of the front support as it is being placed.

Use glue on both ends of this front facing timber and position it. Clamps can be applied to apply pressure on this joint as it dries as well.

Now, find the center of each of these joint faces and mark it.

Repeat the process of using the 7/8-inch bit to drill holes approximately 1.5-inches in depth at each mark.

Again, follow up by taking the smaller wood bit and drilling pilot holes for lag screws.

Insert a lag screw into each of these holes until it reaches the bottom of the larger hole.

To keep the wooden appearance of this rustic outdoor chair uniform, 7/8-inch wooden dowels can now be used to cover the lag screw holes. Cut enough pieces of dowel to insert in every lag hole. Make each piece long enough to stick out from the surface after it has been fully added.

Apply glue to one end of the dowel and insert it into each hole, making sure it is fully seated.

After they are placed, use a flush cut saw to remove the end of the dowel that is sticking out from the surface of the chair.

The next step involves placing the two timbers that have corner cuts made into them. These are the outside edges of the seating area. Insert them into position, but do not glue them.

Take one of the support pieces and glue it into place on the back brace.

Clamp it into place while it is drying.

Insert two wood screws near the ends of this piece to provide additional strength.

Repeat this process for the other brace across from it along the front.

That step is followed up, placing the three seat timbers with the rabbet joints in them. They can be evenly spaced by inserting similar sized scrap between them.

Clamp all pieces into place and turn the chair to a position where access to the bottom is provided.

Drill two pilot holes from the bottom into the back and front braces through to the seat boards that were just clamped into place. These pair of pilot holes should be made along the back as well as the front braces.

Insert the long wood screws into these holes to fasten the seat boards into their designated places.

Now that these are secure, builders can return to the outside edge boards and apply glue to the corner cut-out sections.

Use clamps to apply pressure while the glue dries.

Wood screws can be inserted to add additional fastening strength.

With the assembly and fastening complete, sanding can begin once all glue is cured. All surfaces should be sanded smooth before moving on to the next step.

Once sanding is completed, apply a wood conditioner so that the stain will absorb evenly across all surfaces. Once the pre-conditioner is dry, apply one or more coats of stain to the chair. Once the stain dries, multiple top coats can be applied to provide a smooth finish and to protect the wood from the elements. All that is left for the rustic outdoor chair is to buy or make cushions!

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