Introduction: HomeMade Modern DIY the ZipStich Chair

Picture of HomeMade Modern DIY the ZipStich Chair


Chairs are generally more difficult to make than benches or stools, but here's one that can be made by stitching (or what we're calling 'stiching') plywood pieces with zip ties. I was able to make 2 chairs out of a single 4’ by 8’ sheet of plywood. The chairs I built with ¼" thick plywood are strong, but over time the holes could wear through, so I'd recommend using ½" thick plywood. Feel free to do some experimenting with the design of the chair and share your results.

Step 1: Supplies + Tools

Picture of Supplies + Tools

4'x 8' Sheet of 1/2” Thick Plywood
Available at Home Depot
There are a lot of different types of plywood. I used ¼” plywood which is strong enough to hold my weight but might not stand the test of time. 3/8” or ½” thick plywood would provide superior durability. I had the plywood cut into strips at Home Depot.

Zip Ties
Available at Home Depot
Zip ties – also called cable ties or tie wraps – come in a variety of different sizes. I tried both large 10” ties and thinner 4” ties. The thinner ties are much easier to work with.

RYOBI 18 Volt Cordless Drill
Available at Home Depot

RYOBI 18 Volt Circular Saw
Available at Home Depot

Husky 7" Diagonal Pliers
Available at Home Depot

Husky 8" Long Nose Pliers
Available at Home Depot

Box Cutter
Available at Home Depot

Step 2: Measure and Mark the Plywood Strips

Picture of Measure and Mark the Plywood Strips

Measure and mark the plywood with a pencil.

Step 3: Cut the Pieces

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I used my RYOBI 18 Volt Circular Saw with a plywood blade to make the cuts. The laser guide makes it really easy to follow the lines. If you don’t have a laser then clamp a guide to the plywood.

Step 4: Sand the Edges

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Smooth the edges with 120-220 grit sandpaper.

Step 5: Mark the Holes

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I measured a line 1/2” from the edges and marked an X every 1" inch down the line to indicate drill marks.

Step 6: Drill the Holes

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I clamped 2 to 3 boards together to drill the holes on multiple pieces at the same time.

Step 7: Loosely Stitch the Boards Together

Picture of Loosely Stitch the Boards Together

I zipped a series of loops into the drilled holes in the first piece. Then I strung zip ties through the holes in the second piece and the zip tie loops in the first piece. This creates a zip tie to zip tie connection/link. Keep the links loose for now.

Step 8: Shape and Tighten

Picture of Shape and Tighten

Shaping and tightening the zip ties is an incremental process that requires a bit of patience. The good news is that you can always cut and redo zip ties if you make a mistake. Use long nose pliers to tighten the ties and diagonal pliers to cut the long ends.

Step 9: Add Supports

Picture of Add Supports

Method A:  I used giant, 3 foot zip ties to make tension supports for the chair. Simply drilling two holes through the plywood and using a box cutter to carve out the area between the holes, I was able to create a rectangular hole large enough to strap part of the zip tie through. I then cut the head off of a second tie to cap the other end. I used the same method to make vertical supports that keep the back from reclining too far.

Method B:  For the second chair, I cut some scrap plywood into supports and zip tied them to both the leg and back pieces of the chair.

Step 10: Done!

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Good luck making your own ZipStich Chair and please email or tweet photos to @benuyeda or ben@homemade-modern.com. For more detailed instructions, dimensioned drawings and different variations of the project, check out our soon-to-be-released book.

Comments

tankrium (author)2015-09-19

very cool chair! would probably make a great piece out of steel too

bevin.chu (author)2015-09-17

This is basically the way many modern plywood boats are built.

It's called "stitch and glue" boat construction.

gavinh6 (author)2015-05-30

I wonder if i could replace the zip ties with leather strips

GoDu2 (author)2013-07-30

cool!

kjlpdx (author)2013-07-29

I would make a hole jig that could be clamped to the edge of the ply and eliminate a lot of layout work for the holes, plus more accurate.

Rich99 (author)2013-07-28

looks like a stealth fighter...

AJMansfield (author)2013-07-28

To reduce the wear on the holes, you could try either putting grommets/ferrules in the holes.

RevMagick (author)2013-07-27

that is a great idea man good work am going to have to make some of these for camping

furthuron (author)2013-07-27

thats awesome man! didnt think they would be that beautiful when i saw the headline "zip tied chairs". excellent work. one suggestion is to use flush cuts on those ties. i work with these everyday. an unsuspecting visitor might reach under and snag them selves. they can be sharp. awesome ible though man, i got a left over sheet of ply i might do this with. thanks.

Exocetid (author)2013-07-25

Kudos on a clever design--I love clever!

Lots of pattern options with colored ties and holes, the possibilities are endless.

You could also do a faux wicker on the seat area with ties (get the cheap ones at Harbor Freight)

One of the "issues" with this sort of design is the strength of the edge joints. You could protect the plywood with grommets, in fact, brass grommets would add a design feature. You want the ties to have a bit of give, the dilemma being that if they have too much give then the chair will look sloppy and be unstable. The goal is to have just enough tightness to insure that the chair holds shape and is stable, but enough give that the ties work together to distribute the loading.

A well-done Instructable!

GrfxGawd (author)Exocetid2013-07-25

Another interesting idea, more complicated but interesting - use even thinner layers for some of the wood, but create curved contours by laminating with resins and vacuum bagging. Additional strength and rigidity for similar relative thickness, possibly more comfort.

Exocetid (author)GrfxGawd2013-07-26

Possibly...but the moment I hear "resins and vacuum bagging" I get antsy--getting away from the delightful simplicity of this Instructable.

What about the "wicker with cable ties" idea. The ties need not be confined to the joints. More pieces more ties more flexibility.

DaveB13 (author)2013-07-26

B E A U T I F U L
Ditto the Fiberglass tape & epoxy joint of stitch & glue, could also lace just lace it up with string or rope of your choice.and use some cabocil (spelling) filler & leave the lacing exposed in the finishing. If you alluminum foil the inner seating surface and put a glass jar painted on the outside with black paint and sit it facing the sun you might get the water up over 165 F to sterilize it. Just spitballing, could work though.

Arghus (author)2013-07-26

they look really good but they don't seem sturdy
the thickness of the plywood does not convince me,
i would have gone thicker with angled edges,
and the zipties joining wood to wood not tie to tie like you did

GrfxGawd (author)2013-07-25

I have to say I never considered using zip ties to hold the chair together. I've always used them to restrain things IN the chairs. Great idea!

Questor (author)2013-07-25

why a zip tie to zip tie connection?
Why not one zip tie to connect?

jfreeman72 (author)2013-07-25

Have you thought about Painting over the chairs with some polyurethane resin? you can get it a gallon for $30 at home depot. I don't know how many chairs that would make, but after 2-3 layers, those babies would be solid as a rock

jfreeman72 (author)jfreeman722013-07-25

it's similar to making a "stitch and tape" canoe

shi82 (author)2013-07-25

very good great for young grand kids to get their teeth into thanks

miss_mudlvr (author)2013-07-25

Or even do a brown chair with white zip ties to resemble a football. :)

miss_mudlvr (author)2013-07-25

I would paint the chairs white and use red zip ties to make them into aggressive looking baseball chairs for a man cave or boys room. My step sons would go nuts for them.

snotty (author)2013-07-22

Ha! With all the flat surfaces it almost looks exactly like a Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk sort of.

Exocetid (author)snotty2013-07-25

Would not be a stretch to incorporate more of the 117's features into the chair, great for a kid. Don't forget the flat black paint and black zip ties!

Spokehedz (author)2013-07-25

You need a one-handed-zip-tie fastener.

http://www.harborfreight.com/adjustable-cable-tie-gun-67076.html

Save your pliers for another job!

husamwadi (author)2013-07-22

THATS NUTZ!!!!

Are the zip ties sturdy enough for...ya know....the "hearty" crowd?

But anyway, awesome design, totally has the F1 formula race car frame!

And do you think this would work with twine?

Thanks!

ToolboxGuy (author)husamwadi2013-07-25

Nice chairs!!

Re: Hearty crowd - I am 6'4", 295pounds. With those angles, I'd be very concerned about the "legs" flattening right out from under me, especially after a few weeks/months of use. I'd definitely use a wood cross member at the bottom, as shown on one of the two chairs, versus a long zip tie. I'd also have to go and check these chairs for regular wear on the ties, hearty or not. They appear to flex easily and will definitely rub against the wood.

boblq (author)2013-07-25

Kool design. Made for stitch and glue. Just add some fiberglass and epoxy along the joints, then pull the stitches out. Sand lightly, paint, and enjoy.

rfulcher (author)2013-07-25

Wow, these are sharp-looking. And like an earlier statement, I think I might make a pair for the kids' playroom / TV room.

Question: Why 2 zipties for each hole-to-hole join? Why not a single tie looped through each pair of holes?

MohawkMarine (author)2013-07-24

550 cord instead of the zip ties, get all kinds of colors. Great build going to do this for the kids.

Kiteman (author)2013-07-24

I'd be inclined to stitch it with paracord, but I'm not sure the authors would get a sponsored link for that.

/sarcasm.

researchnauta (author)2013-07-23

very nice design, I like it!!

dimtick (author)2013-07-23

Really dig this design. I wonder if it would be possible to make this into a folding chair? the zip ties will naturally act as hinges so maybe you counld change some joints that could come apart? like the joint between the "armreast" triangles and the flat seat board. if that joint came apart the entire back could fold up. maybe by cutting the plywood pieces at that location to interlock without using the zip ties.
I don't mean that as a criticism. I really like your project. I'm just thinking out loud.
Nice Job!

shantinath1000 (author)2013-07-23

This is similar to the stitch part of stitch and glue method of boat building. Once the stitches are in you could run a bead of epoxy at the seams to join the wood permanently.

KemikalzAreFun (author)2013-07-22

You could even use the thin(er) chain or some rope, depending on the look you want, and thread it through all the holes. It'd be more sturdy and wouldn't break as easily as the zip ties.

snotty (author)KemikalzAreFun2013-07-22

Hmm, maybe some stainless steel bicycle brake cable would look sleek.

B00mrang (author)snotty2013-07-23

What a good idea to use bike brake cable. All along I was wondering what else would look cool for the stiching. I really like it :)

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Bio: HomeMade Modern is an online design source that publishes easy-to-follow, DIY recipes for creating modern home furnishings. We provide creative ideas for making affordable alternatives ... More »
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