A rustic chair with a tied rope backrest, based on a Civil War camp design.


1”x6” (3/4”x5-1/2”) x 34”
1”x2” (3/4”x1-1/2”) - two 10’ long sticks
- - (experts will recommend hardwood, but poplar isn't much denser than hem/fir)
14 flathead screws - #8 1-1/2” long
 50’ (longer if you macrame) nylon or poly clothesline, baler twine, or parachute cord

hand saw, wood file/rasp, wood chisel
hand drill,  5/16” drill bit, #8 countersink, screwdriver
(power tools make this much easier, but are not necessary)

sandpaper, wood glue, primer, paint

If you can measure, saw and drill rather well, this is quite easy.  Otherwise this may be a challenging project, especially cutting the notches for the TOP & BOTTOM RAILS, and squaring up the SEAT assembly.

Step 2: - SAW & SMOOTH

There will be NINE pieces of wood: 2 wide ones for the SEAT itself, 2 rails that connect to the seat (SEAT-RAILS) and become the rear feet, 2 BACK- RAILS that become the front feet, and 3 short SLATS that do the heavy lifting.

A) Cut the 1”x6” into two SEAT pieces (17” each).

B) Cut one stick into three SLATS (16” each) and two SEAT-RAILS (36” each).

C) From the other stick, cut two BACK-RAILS (48” each). About 24” is left over from this project. I could make an extra slat from it, but I didn’t.

D) At the bottom of the BACK-RAILS are the front feet. Cut them a bit less than 45 degrees. The back feet are at the bottom of the SEAT-RAILS. Cut the back feet a bit more than 45 degrees. (PHOTO )

E) Use the file and sandpaper to round all corners & edges. Smooth all wood surfaces. Smooth AGAIN because this is furniture. (PHOTO )


These 5/16” holes provide anchor points for the macrame. They are all 1/2” from the edge of the wood.

A) Mark the TOP & BOTTOM SLATS at 3”, 8”, and 13” from an end. (PHOTO )

B) Mark centers on each BACK-RAIL at 11”, 19”, 25”, and 31”, measured from the top. (PHOTO )

C) Drill 5/16” holes. Bevel and smooth both sides of each hole, to reduce wear on the macrame. (PHOTO 3)


The TOP & BOTTOM SLATS will be glued and screwed into notches in the BACK-RAILS. These joints add strength to the chair and minimize side-to-side movement.

A) Mark the rear edge of both BACK-RAILS near the top for the TOP SLAT at 1-1/2” and 3” from the top.

B) Mark the front edge of both BACK-RAILS for the BOTTOM SLAT at 9” and 10-1/2” from the foot.

C) Saw both sides of each notch (joint) in the BACK-RAILS. Remove the waste wood with a chisel and smooth the bottom of each joint with a file. (PHOTO )


The rounded ends of the SLATS will extend about 1/8" beyond the BACK-RAILS.

Mark the centers of the screw holes 1/2” from the ends of each SLAT. Drill the SLATS with the #8 countersink. Countersink the MIDDLE SLAT and set it aside, because it is the last piece to be added to the chair.

Check the orientation of the holes in the SLATS for the macrame - they should 'face' each other. Refer to the photos of the finished chair to compare your work to mine.

Apply wood glue to the notches, and attach the TOP & BOTTOM SLATS to the BACK-RAILS with #8 flat-head wood screws.


Now it's time to attach the 1x6  SEAT pieces to the SEAT-RAILS.

Measure the INSIDE dimension of the BACK assembly (mine is 14-1/4").  The OUTSIDE dimension of the SEAT assembly must be a bit less than that, in order for the two pieces to fit.  (PHOTO 1)

A quarter-inch of wiggle-room is plenty, and that means that my center-to-center distance BETWEEN the countersink holes in the SEAT pieces is 13-1/4". (PHOTO 2)

Mark the SEAT pieces where the countersink holes will go. Mine are 1-1/2" in from the long edges of the SEAT pieces.This is the point where 90 degrees is very important - if you don't have carpentry tools, use a book, magazine, or a sheet of paper, but make SURE that the assembly ends up as square as can be. (PHOTOS 3 and 4)

When you are confident that you've got it right, glue and screw the SEAT assembly together.


From the front of the chair, slide the back of the SEAT assembly (the rear feet) into the BACK assembly between the SLATS..

Press down on the SEAT assembly until it is stopped by the MIDDLE-SLAT and the BOTTOM-SLAT.  Stop and admire your woodworking. (PHOTO 2)

Disassemble the frame and notice how the pieces fit together for travel or storage. (PHOTO 3)


Cut 50-foot of poly 'clothes line'  (from a dollar store) into 4 equal pieces. Too long is MUCH preferred to too short. Lightly melt the ends to prevent fraying.

Using the cow hitch knot, tie 2 lengths to the center hole in the TOP-SLAT, and one piece into each of the other top holes.

From the center hole, poke 2 strands into the top hole on the left side of the BACK-RAIL, and the other two strands into the top hole on the right.. Every time the strands cross each other, tie a simple overhand knot. If you desire more of a macrame-look, use simple square knots, or look into the 'alternating-square-knot'  technique.

Slide the overhand knots around to make the pattern more uniform. Continue knotting and poking through to the BOTTOM-RAIL, tightening as you go. Tie the center strands to each other with a sheet bend knot. Similarly, connect the outside strands with another sheet bend. Trim away the excess, and lightly melt the ends to again prevent fraying.

Someone with real macrame skills could make this really fancy and more artistic. I tried a spider-web design (twice) and was not satisfied with the outcome. (PHOTOS 3 and 4)


Put the chair back together (see STEP 7) by inserting the SEAT assembly into the completed BACK assembly.

Sit down, enjoy your work, and take a break!
I like it, I'll have to give this type of camp chair a shot. It looks light and easy to tie to a pack.

About This Instructable




Bio: recently retired tinkerer with an overactive imagination, possibly infected with the 'Idea Virus'
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