Introduction: Bulletin Board Camping Chair
I was asked for publishing my current project. I got inspiration here for this project, so I'll give it a try.
Every year we meet with a few friends on a camping site in the Odenwald for barbecue and beer. To do this comfortably, chairs are needed. First I tried these light folding chairs, but they are way too fragile for drunken men at night. So I took some garden chairs with me, which worked well. But then I got a smaller car and it got problematic to carry all the chairs, the camping equipment, my fiancée and the beer to the camping site. So I needed a more compact solution.
Inspired by this chair I planned a chair fitting to my needs:
- it has to be stable and comfortable
- it doesn't have to be foldable, but mountable in an easy way
- for simplicity reasons, only two types of screws are needed to get it built together
- storage boxes in the arm rests
- cup holder on the left, beer holder on the right
- adjustable feet for uneven hard ground, so I can use them on our patio
To get the right sizes I took many measurements on many chairs and benches. It also took much time and a lot of paper to develop the design. I was anxious to begin with it, too, it was my first chair ever.
The built up chair has a total size of 66 x 72,5 x 84,5 cm. The seat has a maximal height of 45,5 cm and a width of 50 cm. The total weight of the chair is 11,5 kg.
Step 1: Material and Sizes
I use the metric system. The measurements in the pictures are in mm. Dimensional sizes are in the order of length x width x height in cm.
Also notice that I give no warranty on the measurements. Not everything worked well, so I had to improvise some parts. You should check the measurements before drilling your holes.
I used the drywall screws I already had. For better handling I bought some hexagon socket screws.
- 46 drywall screws 4,5 x 35 mm
- 22 drywall screws 5 x 50 mm
- 4 drywall screws 4 x 20 mm
- 4 hexagon socket screws M8 x 45 mm
- 6 hexagon socket screws M8 x 135 mm
- 4 screw feet M8 x 45 mm
- 8 insert nuts M8
- 6 T-nuts M8
- 10 washers M8
- 60 cm piano hinge with matching screws
The arm rests, the seat and the back rest are built with drywall screws. 4,5 x 35 mm on the armrests and 6 x 60 mm for the seat and the back rest.
For the armrests I used some 14mm core-boards I had in my cellar. All other parts are made of spruce from the local hardware store.
- The legs are made out of a glulam 250 x 7,5 x 4,5 cm
- The cross pieces for the back rest and the seat are made out of a glulam 250 x 4,5 x 4,5 x cm
- The seat was a wood sheet 40 x 60 x 1,8 cm
- The back rest was a wood sheet 30 x 60 x 1,8 cm
Step 2: Building the Chair
Because of safety issues I drilled the big cup holder holes before cutting the board into size.
After cutting all the parts with the table saw, I cut out the corners on the back and the space for the piano hinge with a jig saw. I cut the piano hinge in half, too.
The parts are connected together with the 35 mm drywall screws. They aren't glued, so it would be easy to change parts, when necessary.
The left armrest has a cup holder, the right one a beer holder. For the cup holder I added a board directly under the board with the hole using 20 mm drywall screws. For the beer holder I added a vertical board as wall between box and holder.
Before assembling I sanded the sides which are the inner sides of the arm rest. Then I connected bottom, the two back pieces and the side piece, which is near the seat together to drill the holes for the M8 screws. After completing it I rounded the edges. The final sanding came just before the oil.
The only difficult part are the angles of the legs. By a mishap I got four different angles on the legs. Then I got the insert nuts into the end grains. The holes for connecting to the seat came with the seat itself.
Seat and back rest
First I connected the enlargement pieces to the cross pieces with the 50 mm drywall screws. Then I drilled the holes for the M8 screws. The T nuts are assembled to the inner sides of the cross pieces, so I had to widen the holes to 10 mm there. Because of the spruce I used for the M8 holes a 8,5 mm drill, so the screws will not get stuck in the hole.
After finishing and checking all the M8 holes into all the pieces I connected the plates to the cross pieces with the 50 mm drywall screws.
Step 3: Finishing
After rounding the edges with a file and 80 sand paper (I didn' t have a router) and sanding all parts with 120 paper before 240 paper it was time to glaze the chair.
I coated the parts into two layers of pure linseed oil. If you use it without thinner, you need time. It took about a week until I added the second layer. Then I had to wait another week until the chair was dry.
The benefit of pure oil is using it without smelling or health issues. So it isn't a problem to use and dry it in the living room.
Just apply a thick layer of oil onto the wood, wait about 15 minutes and remove the remaining oil with a clean cloth. Don't forget to let the cloth dry before throwing it away.
I built a second chair later. This one I treated it with a self made stain before oiling it. Because of the light scent of vinegar I advise to do the staining outdoors.
Step 4: Notices
Building it up
After a few tries I found the best way to build the chair up:
- Assemble the legs to the arm rests. Don't set any bolt tight until the chair is complete.
- Add the seat to the legs, the bolts on the backside shouldn't rise out of the wood.
- Add the back rest on the arm rests. It's easier to connect the upper pair of bolts first.
- Connect the lower part of the back rest to the seat. With the upper bolts you have a fixed point, so you can easily guide the lower part into place.
- Set all the bolts tight.
I usually take the legs into the gap of the back rest and the armrests into the gap of the seat. The screws are stored in an arm rest. So it is as compact as two beer crates.
The second chair
For my fiancée I built another chair. It is nearly the same in sizes, but to make it more comfortable for her I made the legs 5 cm shorter and the back rest 5 cm higher. So I took a single 120 x 40 cm spruce board for both seat and back rest and cut the back rest 35 cm wide. The cross pieces are 5 cm longer, too. And it's stained into this cool dark colour.
I don't have a preference for cushioning, so I didn't use one. If I want it more comfortable I have a sheep fur matching to the chair.
Because I built the chairs based on the same plan I can combine the parts with each other. So I can use the high back rest on my chair or I can combine the dark and the light pieces for a more bad-ass appearance.
Step 5: Trial and Error
Because it was my first chair I made some mistakes while building this chair.
The first struggle I had was building a chair from scratch. I built the chair directly with only a rudimentary check of the dimensions of the chair. I risked to get an uncomfortable chair and ruining the expensive wood.
If I built this chair now I would take some plywood from scrap and build a provisional chair for testing and taking some measurements. Perhaps it would have avoided some issues I had while building the chair.
Because of the many angles I used LibreCAD for getting the exact measurements. It worked fine but I forgot to consider the right position of the holes for the insert nuts. I'm glad I checked the last two holes just before drilling it, but I got two issues with it. First, the hole in the front leg isn't in the center of the leg, which is just an optical, but not technical issue. The second issue was much worse, because the angles of the seat and the legs weren't correct any more. The seat was parallel to the ground and the bottom of the feet weren't parallel to the ground.
So I corrected the legs. I had to shorten the back legs, so I just had to cut the correct angle and set the insert nut new. The front legs were too short. I added a scrap piece of wood to avoid buying a new glulam. The result isn't this perfect, but I can live with it.
One other error were the openings for the beverage holders. For the first measurements I just took the widest bottle I found at home and made the hole just wide enough for fitting the bottle.
After drilling the holes I soon found out that it would be better to make the holes as wide as the inner size of the arm rest. So I set a serrated grinder into the big drill press and widened the holes to the correct size.
When planning the chair I decided to use as few different bolts as possible. So I added expansion pieces onto the seat and the arm rests. The expansion piece on the arm rests are too narrow, so the bolt sticks out of the T- nut a little bit.
Perhaps it would have been better to use mid-sized bolts instead, so less parts would be needed.
The bolts for the insert nuts in the legs are 40 mm long. Soon I found out this was too long. It would be better to take 30 mm or 25 mm bolts to avoid annoying screwing sessions.
For building the arm rests I used core boards and drywall screws I had in my cellar. The screws are a little bit too big and the shape of the screw heads would split the core boards if you are not careful enough. It would be easier mounting it by using smaller screws with flat heads. The arm rest would be more solid and voluminous by using 10mm plywood, too.
Using glulam for cross pieces and legs may be some overkill. Using construction wood would be cheaper and would do the job, too.
Step 6: Ideas
While building the chair I got some ideas which could improve the concept:
- Using other materials like construction wood and plywood. There are alternatives to spruce, too, e. g. pine.
- Make a two color chair through staining the legs, the cross pieces of seat and back rest and some parts of the arm rests. A full stained chair could also look better with a high gloss finish.
- For permanent outdoor use it would be useful to use metal parts made of stainless steel. Also another glaze could be a good idea.
- Some measurements are result of an accident. When corrected it would allow to build the chair easier. Also the dimensions can be adjusted to get the chair more compact when disjointed.
- Making seat and back rest wider would make a bench out of the chair.
- Change the fixed plates for the beverage holders. A movable plate can be used to change the beer holder into a cup holder and back.
- Add some functions to the chair like a beer opener or a parasol holder.
- Add some tat for a more bad-ass or nerdy appearance like dog head carvings to the front sides of the arm rests or a USB B - Port.
… and many, many more.
Feel free to build your very own chair, add your ideas and use it for heavy barbecuing or camping sessions, like me.