Picture of A Chair for the Great Outdoors
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OutdoorChair - 003.jpg

This is a project that will reward you with comfort! It will last outdoors for years and years with no upkeep, weathering gracefully as the years roll on. It has a natural rugged utilitarian style, and making one of these chairs is an easy weekend project.

The inspiration for this chair came from the bench that the Wisconsin naturalist Aldo Leopold designed and made back in the 1940's. The following are among many good sites depicting his benches:



organic gardening

Not needing to seat more than one naturalist at a time, I narrowed and modified the design into the chair described here. It has an ample seat, wider back rest, dimensional changes to the legs, and added arm rests. It turned out to be quite comfortable !

Step 1: Materials and equipment

Picture of Materials and equipment

The chair is made entirely from U.S. standard construction lumber sizes: 2x4, 2x6, 2x8, and 2x12.

For one chair you will need the following:

2 X 6 - 10’ length for the Legs

2 X 8 - 2’ length for the Back

2 X 12 - 2’ length for the Seat

2 X 4 - 3’ length for the Arms

28 - 3” long Deck Screws to hold it all together

This is a minimal bill of materials with a little allowance for cutting to exact size and shape. It would be much more economical to purchase longer standard board lengths and make several of these chairs - which you will very much appreciate having around in various spots for relaxation and contemplation in the freshness and beauty of nature.

For a strong chair, the parts have to mate up solidly when drawn up by the screws. Therefore cuts have to be straight and square. If you are fortunate enough to have a sliding miter saw, the job will be a piece of cake. Otherwise, a handheld circular saw is necessary along with some sort of commercial or improvised guide. I had to resort to the latter as shown in photos in steps below. For the 90° cuts the guide took the form of a basic tee-square for; another guide was made 30° off the perpendicular for making the cuts for the legs.

You'll also want a drill and driver for putting in the deck screws.

rossxza made it!1 month ago
made a small version out of pallet wood, for my 4yr old son.
TinkerJim (author)  rossxza1 month ago

Wow! Very nice! Your son is blessed to have a dad like you!

Thanks for sharing the design.
BackyardWW11 months ago

This is really a good idea - I may make some and just leaving them in the area by the pond in our neighborhood - your plans are easy to understand and the picture really helped. I really liked the job - did you make plans for the jigs themselves? either way great job turned out really nice!

dough5134200011 months ago
It a neat idea. Really like it! Your measurement plans layout is awesome. I have ADD and I have problems understanding some peoples plans. I totally understand yours. thank u
coachboehm1 year ago

Great plans, easy to follow, thanks for sharing! I can't wait to make more.

tw861 year ago

great design and ez to follow

hotalvaro1 year ago

Simple and great

What a great and simple design!

s_buford1 year ago
Great design has anyone tried to make them stackable by moving the arms to the outside of the legs.
Your an awesome person for modifying your own version of a "Leopold bench" into a chair I just recently visited his cabin in baraboo with my best friend and was amazed at the benches outside of his cabin. He has always been one of my heroes for his conservation essays and narratives about the family farm. Thank you for carrying on the legacy.
xwania1 year ago

great design. for sure I will be making these for my cottage. couple of ideas that may help. 1_ you could use cedar or teak for outdoor use. it would last a life time and you don't have to put any finishes. 2_ you could use stainless steel nuts and bolts on the legs instead of screws which will make it very steady. again thanks for the design

wow, great job. I really like your instructable.

Great chair design. Can't wait to build some of these for my backyard. Thanks!