This is a cross between a chair and a hammock, for use on sunny days in the garden or taking with you on a camping trip.  It is surprisingly comfortable and can be adjusted to give a fairly upright position (suitable for using a laptop) or a more recumbent one for lazing the afternoon away.  Similar chairs cost from £65 to £120 or more to buy, but you can have one for a fraction of the cost.  This is a good project for teenagers to make for Father's Day because everyone can contribute, whether it is with sewing skills, basic woodwork skills or tying a few knots. It should be easily made in a weekend.

My chair hangs just a short way above the ground, making it easy to get in and out of and allowing my feet to rest comfortably on the ground when I am in it.  You could hang the chair higher up but then you might need a ladder to get into it, which could be a hazardous exercise.  Some commercially available hanging chairs have a foot rest, which would be easy enough to add if you want to be well above the ground and don't feel comfortable with your legs just dangling. You will spin and swing around a bit in the wind if your feet don't touch the ground, but that is part of the fun. 

You will need

1.4 m (1 5/8 yd) of canvas (or other strong, rip-resistant, hardwearing fabric) that is at least 1.3 m (51") wide
Strong sewing thread
A reasonably powerful sewing machine fitted with a jeans needle and ideally a walking foot
2.7 m (3 yd) of 25 mm (1") wide webbing
A crayon, chalk or a biro
Ruler or tape measure
Strong scissors capable of cutting the canvas and webbing
Sewing pins
One 28 mm (1 1/8") diameter wooden broom handle, at least 1.2 m (48") long
Two 23 mm (7/8") diameter wooden broom handles, at least 1 m (39") long
10 m (11 yd) of 7 mm (1/4") rope from a climbing shop (check the breaking strain is well above your weight)
A length of thicker rope - length depends on how high up your tree branch is
A hand drill or power drill with 8mm and 10mm wood bits
A saw
Teak oil or wood preservative
A carabiner capable of taking your weight plus the chair's (optional)
A suitable tree

Unless you live somewhere where the climate is dry, I suggest using canvas, webbing and sewing thread made from manmade fibres that will not rot if they get wet, because sooner or later your chair will get left out in the rain.  Opt for polyester or nylon instead of cotton if you have the choice.  Ideally, the canvas should have an open weave to stop rain collecting in it, but strength is more important than that.

Safety warning

The strength of this chair depends on the materials used and the quality of your stitching and knot-tying.  Mine takes an adult male weighing 11.5 stone (160 lb, 73 kg) with ease, but you may need to beef up the components if the user is substantially heavier.  When buying the rope and carabiner, check their load ratings.  Carabiner-type keyrings are NOT suitable.  Don't take chances, particularly if you want to use the chair to hang high above the ground.  Make sure the branch you hang it from is sound wood and thick enough to bear the weight of the occupant.  Remember that the load will be increased if the chair is used like a swing.  Check the stitching and knots every now and again, and certainly before using the chair after it has been put away for a while.

I have given suggestions for the knots to be used, but the best knot for a job depends on such things as the flexibility and slipperiness of the rope, its fibre content, construction and diameter as well as what needs to be connected to what.  If in doubt, consult a good book of knots or someone who understands such things - amateur sailors are usually good on knots. 

Step 1: Marking and Cutting the Canvas

Iron your canvas flat then lay it on a hard floor wrong side up and draw a trapezoid on it with the following dimensions (refer to diagram):

  • front edge of the chair (this side is along the selvedge of the canvas)  - 137 cm (54")
  • back edge - 71 cm (28")
  • each side -  135 cm (53")
  • approx. perpendicular distance from front to back - 130 cm (51")
Draw on the canvas using chalk, a crayon or a biro, whatever you have.

In the photos you'll see that the back edge of the chair is along the selvedge, but it would have been better along the front to make for a smoother front edge. 

Cut out the trapezoid.  Don't throw away the scraps, you can use them to protect the tree from the rope and to make a head cushion for your chair.
Rock climbers are also wizards with rope. This chair is very cool, and I happen to know someplace nearby that has canvas on sale in pretty colors...
A pretty colour would be good, especially if you can coordinate it with the rope colours. I could only find boring blue canvas.
Thank you for sharing this super Instructable. It's very well written with clear directions and helpful photos. I plan to make a couple of these soon. I hope my sewing will look half as good as yours. You have my vote for both the Father's Day and Great Outdoors contests!
Thanks for your kind comments, and for voting for me. As for the sewing, stitch in a matching thread and no one will notice if it's a bit wobbly.
Beautiful chair, great instructions! I'll be making one! <br> <br>As an avid hammocker, I always use some sort of strap or webbing to distribute the load on the tree to prevent strangulation that could damage the cambium layer just under the bark. <br> <br>You might want to warn people to use appropriately rated ropes . . . <br> <br>Love the chair!
Glad you like it. <br> <br>A strap/webbing round the branch is a good idea, better than my solution of using a piece of canvas under the rope. I bought some seatbelt webbing recently for another project which was not too expensive and would do the job. <br> <br>Re. the rope rating, I did say &quot;check the breaking strain is well above your weight&quot; in the materials list, but thanks for highlighting the safety aspect. Buying the rope for this chair I discovered than even quite thin climbing rope is very stong, because it has to withstand shock loads (ie when someone falls off a cliff and stops abruptly when their rope goes taut), which are a lot bigger than a climber's weight.
That is so cool! I totally voted for u
Thank you! And you should make one for your dad.
My dad would love this!
Looks good. <br> <br>I guess you could use the frame of an old swing if you have no trees, or mybe a big eye-bolt in the frame of (suitably strong) pergola or veranda?
Yes, absolutely, anything that's strong enough. I tried mine out under a wooden veranda (see penultimate photo of step 5) but it's not strong enough to take a person's weight.

About This Instructable




Bio: I like making things - anything and everything - and figuring out how to do things by myself. I blog about it as YorkshireCrafter on Wordpress.com. More »
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