This one is made from lumber recycled from a redwood deck we ripped out. The weathering, stains and screw holes all add to character of the chair even after rigorous sanding on the seat, footrest, arms and back. With ‘free’ lumber, the cost for this chair was two boxes of screws, some glue and sand paper. (And in my case, a belt sander – but that’s an investment, right?)
Though not particularly difficult to build, it did take a few days and some table saw skills. There are a number of angled cuts and a couple of dados to contend with. I would not recommend taking this on without a table saw, a belt sander and a good drill.
The plans were created using SketchUp from photos taken of the inspirational chair, with a few modifications for aesthetics and ease of construction. The SketchUp files are included here, if you don’t have the program you can download it for free at sketchup.google.com . Description of the files is at the bottom of this step.
It's important to note that a 2x4 is actually 1.5" x 3.5" - the plans assume this, and if you're using recycled lumber you'll need to take that into account .
2x4 lumber - 92 linear feet (can be done with12 8' boards if you lay it out carefully)
2x6 lumber - about 6 feet for the armrests
2.5" deck screws - two boxes (about 150 screws)
2" deck screws - 18
Glue - outdoor grade wood glue
Table saw - with tilting blade for some 15 degree cuts. Also a set of dado blades unless you're using a router for the rabbet cuts.
Hand saw - there are a few cuts that are just easier to do by hand.
Jig saw or band saw - for rounding the arms. Optionally you can approximate with the hand saw and sand it down.
Belt sander - essential, there's a lot of sanding to get the sitting area smooth, especially if you're using recycled lumber.
Drill - you need to put in about 150 screws
Drill press - optional, but makes for beautifully aligned pilot holes
Clamps - at least four hearty clamps for holding the legs during dry assembly, also used in assembling the seat, footrest and back.
Pencil - cheap but effective.
Protect your eyes and ears when using power tools!
Gloves or Epsom Salt - your choice for dealing with splinters. I started with Epsom Salt, which is great for removing that nasty splinter that goes in your finger all the way to the nail. Then I changed to gloves. I recommend starting with the gloves.
Mask - wear it when sanding, or cough a lot.
The chair has three main parts - the backrest, seat and footrest, with the arms, legs and cross members holding it all together. We will build it in that order. I highly recommend reading and understanding the whole process first.
There are four versions of the model in SketchUp included below. They each contain all the parts, but in different configurations for your (and my) convenience. The basic model has everything you really need.
lifeguard_chair_basic.skp - The fully assembled chair with height dimensions (as shown in the 'Main Assembly' step).
lifeguard_chair_boards.skp - One possible layout to cut the pieces from 12 eight foot 2x4s and one six foot 2x6.
lifeguard_chair_explode.skp - Exploded version showing the main parts of the chair (as shown in the last image of this step).
chairDetails.skp - Each main assembly with some notes (as shown in steps 3, 4, 5, 6, 8).
Step 1: Prepping the Lumber
1. Quickly sand to remove loose dirt and debris. A more rigorous sanding will happen later, but it's necessary to get the sides and edges clean for running through the table saw. A hand sanding pass with 80 grit paper is adequate.
2. Trim one edge straight. For trimming down 2x6 lumber (which is 1.5" x 5.5") set the fence to 5 1/4" and rip the length of the board. This will trim off about 1/4" and give you a clean straight edge.
3. Set the fence to 3 1/2", flip the board over and rip down the other edge. You'll now have a 2x4 with two clean edges.
4. Now's a good time to do a real sanding pass with the belt sander - the long boards make easier setup that a lot of short boards. Sand according to how polished you want your chair to look. The seats, back, arms and footrest will be sanded once assembled, so you're determining the look of the rest of the chair now. If you're going to paint it or using new wood, spend time getting a nice finish now. If you're going for a more recycled look like this chair, a pass with 80 grit and then 120 grit should do the trick. The goal is to clean it up but not remove the character that came with the prior use of the wood.
5. Cut 2x4s to approximate lengths (see plan). NOTE: cut the cross members and back slat a few inches too long - you'll custom fit them later and will need the latitude in length.