Make a Child's Country Chair





Introduction: Make a Child's Country Chair

Design For Kids Challenge

Runner Up in the
Design For Kids Challenge

Why not have a go at making this country chair for a child! It will become a family heirloom without a doubt.

You'll need some hardwood:

  • The end of a fairly wide plank of elm, oak, or similar will make the seat
  • Eighteen inches of a half inch or three quarter inch thick and seven inch wide board for the seat back
  • A log of apple, ash, beech, etc. to split for the legs and back sticks
    (or some 1½" square battens instead)

A video of my build is available in three parts, and also includes an attempt to steam bend a seat back which didn't go so well!

I'm entered in the Design for Kids Challenge, so please vote if you like it.

Step 1: Starting the Seat

Draw in the seat shape. Using the child as a pattern for the inner, scooped area, is a good idea, but allow a little extra space for growth. Then add the raised area allowance of about two inches, into which the back sticks will go

Four leg holes should be marked in approximately three inches in from four corners

The leg holes are bored flaring out from the centre of the seat. The angle is up to you, but six to ten degrees seems to work well. This gives a wider base, and adds to stability

Holes for the six back sticks are bored in what will be the raised area around the scooped seat. They are also sloped, and create the fanned appearance you can see in the finished chair. Again, the exact angles are up to you, and I suggest you mock it up first to see what you like

I didn't use any power tools in my build, but there's no reason why you can't

Step 2: Shaping the Seat

Use an adz, gouge, and/or scorp (or anything else you can think of!) to scoop out the seat area to a comfortable shape. You may need to get a child in to gauge progress, but I found a snug fit for my bum was just about ideal for most children of five years or more

Saw out the outline of the seat, and clean up with spokeshave, etc.

Blend the scooped area into the front edge, and smooth all the surfaces

Step 3: Legs and Back Sticks

Split battens from the log to make the legs and back sticks

Rough out the shapes with a hatchet, before moving on to a draw knife and spokeshave

Complete the leg shaping by forming a round tenon to fit the leg holes in the seat, and the back stick shaping by forming round tenons at each end (one for the seat, and one for the seat back)

Once dry fitted, use a gauge to level the feet and the top of the back sticks

Step 4: Seat Back

With the seat inverted and standing on the back sticks, mark the tenon positions onto a piece of paper

Draw an outline for the seat back, which centres the mortise positions in it's width and creates a comfortable shape (I used a flexible drill shaft to lay out a smooth curve)

Saw out the seat back, and clean it up using a spokeshave

Bore the mortise holes for the back sticks

Step 5: Attaching Legs

With the legs dry fitted, mark for wedges which run across the grain of the seat

Saw a slot for each of the wedges in the leg tenons, and prepare some wedges to fit

Glue the legs in place, inserting glued wedges at the same time

Saw off as much excess of the tenons as possible, and flush them with the seat surface

Step 6: Fitting Seat Back and Sticks

With the seat, back sticks, and seat back dry fitted, mark for wedges on all tenons

Saw slots for all the wedges, and since these tenons are quite thin, drill a relief hole across the bottoms of the slots to prevent splitting

Assemble with glue, adding glued wedges at the same time

Flush off all wedges/tenon ends

Step 7: Apply Finish

Appropriate use of sharp hand tools should have left the chair smooth enough to apply a finish straight away, but difficult grain situations, etc may require some sanding. Don't omit this if it's needed, since the final result will suffer

I chose to apply an oil finish (Odie's oil), which I wiped dry after about forty minutes

The next day I buffed the life out of it, to achieve a lovely satin/semi-gloss finish

A second coat is recommended for better protection, and/or furniture wax can be applied

Step 8: Ready for a Kid - Even a Big One!

I hope you'll make your own chair, and look forward to seeing photo's in the comments

I'm entered in the Design for Kids Challenge, so please vote if you like it.

Thanks for reading my instructable

Cheers, Mitch



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    Really nice! Great design and instructable. I'll check out your other projects now too! :-)

    I really appreciate the process, with draw-knives and wedges and the good-ol'-fashion way of making things. I hope that last's in your family for years to come.

    I might try this. What I love about this is that you did not use any power tools ( which I don't have)

    Post a photo here if you do. I have power tools, but I prefer to work in a slower, quieter, and less dusty way.

    A truly beautiful chair. I remember sitting in a similar chair watching the Looney Toons at my great Aunt's house as a kid.

    Thanks. Nice to be able to bring back good memories

    This is amazing!!! And the tools are cool, too. Where do they come from?

    Thanks. The tools are traditional to woodworking, and some specific to chair making and bodging. Online stores such as and are a good place to start, as are tool fairs and auctions