Introduction: Linnaeus Laptop Chair
As I write my first Instructable, I feel that I must be completely honest. I am not a craftsman and I have not done a wood work project before. Before I undertook this project the words jigsaw, pilot hole and countersink were foreign concepts! From this very, very brief personal background and the following instructions I hope that you see that this chair was an incredibly simple build which resulted in a stunning outcome. This chair is comfortable to sit on and is great for writing, drawing, using your laptop on (!) or even a quick nap!
The Linnaeus Laptop chair, or a variation of, was first designed by Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist and physician in 1741. My grandfather was given a modern version of his chair as a gift and for years I have admired it. Recently I found that the blueprints and design for this chair were provided online, in a hope that people across the globe would create their own versions. I will attach the website links below so that you can access the documents and hopefully create your own! Many thanks to Gunnar for his support and enthusiasm throughout this project.
You will need…
2 X General purpose timber-boards 28 X 600 X 2050mm
2 X Back flap Hinges, 38mm
Piano hinge 500mm (roughly)
M6 Threaded Rods (we used a 50cm one and cut it down to the required size)
Electric screwdriver and drill set
Countersink drill bit
Satin finish varnish and paintbrushes
Step 1: Templates
Using my window as a large “light box” I printed off the blueprints (see attached) and stuck all the sheets together in the correct order using sticky tape. When doing so the “light box” enabled us to see through the paper and match up the lines in order to create the nets. After this we cut out the individual shapes and used extra sticky tape to keep the sheets together. This resulted in us having all the individual stencils, scaled correctly, ready to use as templates.
Step 2: Cutting Out the Pieces
Then we attached the templates to the timber-board and secured them with sticky tape. When placing the pieces down we took care to match up the grain on certain pieces that would be seen next to each other, for example the desk and the arm rest. This really helped to create the professional overall look. Also, it is important to place the templates parallel to the grain. This produces a stronger piece which is less likely to snap under stress, which is of course important in a chair!
Once secured with sticky tape we traced round the shapes in pencil and then removed the paper templates. On the templates it also indicates where the screws should be placed. We marked these slightly on the wood using a pair of scissors to push down through the templates to score the wood slightly.
Using a jigsaw we started to slowly cut out the pieces. The hardest part was cutting out the “waves” section on the “height setting” piece. To do this we used the jigsaw as much as possible and then used a hand held saw and a sander to finish them off. We would suggest using a router (if possible) as this would be much easier. Some of the pieces we were required to cut the ends at an angle to allow for the inward bend of the chair. Have a look at the blueprints to see which pieces we are referring to. The angle on the blueprints was said to be 79 degrees, however our jigsaw could not be set to exactly this angle. Instead we cut at 75 degrees and then used the mouse sander and planer to finish off the edges.
As an additional note, the blueprints suggest using a 25mm thick piece of wood, however we struggled to find this exact thickness and dimensions in the wood we desired. This meant that when cutting out the slots we had to adjust the length of the gap to accommodate for the extra 3mm thickness. We cut the slots with an additional 2mm gap which then allowed us to use a sander to ensure a very snug fit! So snug that we almost could not pull the pieces apart again!
After the pieces were all successfully cut out we began to sand the edges of each piece with a mouse sander to remove the harsh edges. We only rounded the sides that were not to be connected to another piece of wood as these pieces would be best left flat in order for maximum surface connection between the pieces and to minimise wobbling. We decided on only a small curved edge, however you could curve it much more or use a router to get a completely rounded curve.
Step 3: Assembly
Once they were sanded to our liking we attached the hinges.
The back flap hinges were easily attached as they were the same width as the “H” piece. Ensure to attach the hinge the correct way round to allow it to open completely and also ensure that the hinge is attached to the long side of the “H”. Then we attached the piano hinge to the desk and arm rest piece. Our piano hinge was roughly 10cm too long so using a hack saw we trimmed it down to roughly 50cm so it spanned almost the whole length of the of the desk. Both of these hinges came with small screws so we used these.
Before we began assembling the chair we first held it together in order to check that all the angles were correct and that the parts fitted together snuggly. Any adjustments that were needed were mostly using the mouse sander to remove and smooth parts or the jigsaw to attempt to straighten the edge. Once we were happy with the fit we began to assemble. This part need two pairs of hands to ensure that the wood did not move whilst screwing them together, we don’t want a wonky chair! Firstly we slotted the back legs and the central support part together. Then, using the scored screw holes as a guide we attached the front legs. Before we screwed it in, we drilled pilot holes to prevent the wood from splitting. This seemed to work well. We also used a countersink piece to countersink the holes so that the screws would sit flush. We then screwed the screws in. After the front legs were secured we then attached the seat. Then we attached the “height setting” piece to the front. When doing this we used a spirit level to make sure that the front legs and the “height setting” piece were perfectly aligned. When the tops were lined up properly it allowed the bottom curves to line up nicely. The we attached the arm rest/desk attachment by following the scored screw holes on the arm rest. We then attached the H piece to the bottom of the desk in a spot where when adjusted the desk was at desired heights. Again, we used a spirit level to ensure that when the desk was on the lowest height setting, the desk was parallel to the floor. We chose to do have it parallel as a personal preference as then on the highest setting the desk was not too steep.
Step 4: Finishing
To protect and finish the chair, I used satin finish varnish. I painted the varnish on in layers, giving it about half an hour gaps in between coats. After 3 or 4 coats, I sanded it down with some wet and dry paper, I used a very fine piece of sandpaper and sanded along the grain. Wipe down the table and give it one final coat. The varnish protects the wood from rotting and minor spills, I still wouldn't put a hot cup of tea on it though.
For some final comfort I bought a colourful cushion. You can easily make your own custom cushion by following the designs, cutting the seat shape from a piece of foam and wrapping in it in some faux leather or a fabric of your choice. Also you can add another thinner cushion on the arm rest.
Thank you, I hope you like it!
Runner Up in the
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