Introduction: Plank Chair

Picture of Plank Chair

A simple and satisfying chair made from one plank of wood.

Step 1: Get a Large Plank of Wood

Picture of Get a Large Plank of Wood

The piece of wood that I used for this chair was 7 feet long, 11 inches wide and 1 3/4 inches thick. I originally used driftwood planks to make these chairs because they look nice and are free. If you choose to use found wood be careful that it has not been pressure treated.

Step 2: Cut the Plank in Two

Picture of Cut the Plank in Two

Cut the plank into two pieces. For this chair I made one piece 40 inches long and the other 51. The dimensions can be varied to fit your preferences.

Step 3: Make the Back Leg

Picture of Make the Back Leg

Cut two inches of wood off of the sides of the board starting 15 inches from one end of the plank.

Step 4: Cut a Hole in the Second Plank

Picture of Cut a Hole in the Second Plank

Place the tapered end of the first board 15 1/2 inches from the bottom of the second board and trace around the edge. Remove enough wood to slide the first board through the hole in the second at an angle.

Step 5: Try It Out

Picture of Try It Out

Fit the two pieces together and try it out. If you are not satisfied with something here is your chance to fix it.

Step 6: Fine Tune the Angles

Picture of Fine Tune the Angles

The planks will not intersect at right angles, so some wood will need to be trimmed. This picture shows the marking process for this step.

Step 7: Fine Tune Part 2

Picture of Fine Tune Part 2

Use a saw to redefine the angles.

Step 8: Finish & Relax

Picture of Finish & Relax

I wanted to remove the glitter on the boards so I resurfaced the plank with a chisel. However the only necessary step here is to relax in your new chair.


T0BY (author)2016-11-28

How unique! Beautiful!

AshutoshB11 (author)2016-06-12

very nice

LuckyC5 (author)2015-12-22

I have never made one of these before. I have been asked to make 3 of them for my niece and 2 for my sister. I think I can get these made by her Christmas gathering so they can show them off. THANK YOU FOR THIS WONDERFUL PLAN.

Foaly7 (author)2010-06-28

I used to have one of these that I made at boyscout camp. Then, three or four years later I tried sitting in it again and it broke and has been in my garage ever since.

jesse.hensel (author)Foaly72015-09-05

Sounds like a good excuse to make a new one.

Mayarao made it! (author)2015-07-21

Made it!
But I am 5'2" and my feet dangle when I sit on it. Any recommendations on measurements for short people?

jesse.hensel (author)Mayarao2015-09-05

I'd just trim a inch or so off the bottom portions until it feels right (sorry if that isn't the most helpful).

wobbler (author)2010-09-03

Great design and instructible. Any good angle to use? What's the most comfortable?

jesse.hensel (author)wobbler2015-09-05

I think the best chair angle is about 110 degrees.

Sgt.Waffles (author)2006-11-04

I believe the vikings also made this kind of chair. I saw it on a norse wood working site. Because you have a seemingly large workshop, it would be cool if you routed the edges, and carved an intricate desigh into it. you also might think about staining it as well. Nice Instructable!! +

Very Keri (author)Sgt.Waffles2007-06-08

I agree! I like the sleek, modern design, but it could appeal to a wider variety of people if you add carvings and stain and seal it to keep off the splinters. I'll bet you can sell a ton of those if you don't already.

jesse.hensel (author)Very Keri2007-07-06

I may add carvings to my next chair (expect plank chair 2.0 shortly) but I no longer believe in staining wood. If the chair is kept reasonably dry it will last a very long time, I dislike the toxins in varnishes and stains (cabinetmakers have a high incidence of nasal cancer), and I like the look of worn wood. Additionally, staining will not guarantee that you wont get splinters.

a918bmxr (author)jesse.hensel2010-04-15

another way of staining the wood without using actual wood stain or varnish is using motor oil...
i did this to my chair (after sanding it) and it looks amazing!
and no splinters so far

Mayarao (author)a918bmxr2015-07-21

I use good old linseed oil to protect the wood.

Loveofchaos (author)jesse.hensel2007-07-11

cabinet makers have high nasal cancer incidence. im sorry my friend, my dad is a cabinet maker and as long as you wear a respirator while staining or while your in the stain booth my dad (or me for that matter) have never had any nasal problems. if your going in the booth just for a short while i usually hold my breath. Good instructable +

I think the point he meant to make wasn't that stainers get nose cancer, but that wood stain is a dangerous, toxic chemical and that by not buying it he is not contributing to the creation of something that will eventually be a deadly waste product.

Loveofchaos (author)jesse.hensel2007-07-11

additionally to your additionally i agree with the stain-splinter thingy. I believe a nice sanding would help with the splinter problem immensely.

EmmettO made it! (author)Sgt.Waffles2010-07-09

I know this is an old comment but I thought I'd throw in some pictures of stargazers I've done.

rmullins (author)Sgt.Waffles2007-07-05

AWESOME! A Norse Woodworking site???? Post the link?

peytonjr (author)rmullins2008-10-02

This is a great place for plans, etc., and has some improvements for the chair in the Mark II and III versions

rmullins (author)peytonjr2008-10-02

ummmmm the link?

Curtisbhoward (author)2015-06-28

What's the best/easiest way to cut the slot in the vertical plank?

Maeglethion (author)2015-05-13

what is the issue with using pressure treated wood?

eric.brackett.779 (author)2015-01-09

These are erroneously called "Bog Chairs" or refereed to as period Viking or Saxon chairs. The earliest example of these chairs come from a 1934 Boy Scouts of America Handbook. I am not knocking the chairs themselves mind yiou, only the concept that somehow these rudimentary chairs are at the level of craftmeship that ancient woodworkers were able to prodcue. Simply look at the Glastonbury Chair or viking Box Chair as an example of "simple" chairs.

SIRJAMES09 (author)2013-10-01

This is a very cool instructable!! I LOVE IT!
been looking for plans for this chair for what seems like forever! TY for sharing this Sir. now my search is over & I can get to work making some of these to sell. :)

Vinstepula (author)2012-02-01

A semi dumb question, but seeing how I never sat in one of these chairs, is it comfortable? I need a chair for a reading corner in my home.

jesse.hensel (author)Vinstepula2012-02-01

I think that they are very comfortable. If you don't like it you can always change the angle.

malsonc made it! (author)2011-03-03

When I first joined Instructables I saw this chair. I had to make one for myself. Of course being in Texas I had to do something to make it different. Here is my first attempt at your chair.

ERCCRE123 (author)2009-04-10

what's bad about being pressure treated?

mrthumbtack (author)ERCCRE1232009-04-10

pressure treated wood is made by infusing wood with an arsenic compound...
they recommend not even touching it with your bare hands:

That is myth thats been around for years . if it was that dangerous it wouldn't be sold to the public .

slaitch (author)Charlie Horse2010-03-19

 Please, please, please tell me this was sarcastic.

RCS82 (author)slaitch2010-05-04

 These days, at least in Canada, PT wood is made with a copper compound rather than the old arsenic compound. This has been around for a while as this was the case when I started working for a building supply store back in 2004.

shnixter (author)2010-02-01

how do you cut the hole so neatly?

Tgauchsin (author)2010-01-06

We used to make these for scout outings! I love them, comfortable!!! Definately heavy enough to only be for campsite camping not backpacking! I am an EMT and after seeing this instructable, made one while on a 24 hour shift! Only really took about 40 minutes...

Hawkeye Lyles (author)2009-11-05

Thats an awesome chair! My friends and I made one in shop class today.

gtech (author)2009-09-13

I found your instructable while searching for dimensions for this kind of plank chair,

So, that made me notice something... how do you get 40" and 51" board from a 7' length of piece of wood? ;-)

7' = 84" and 40"+51"=91"

Good job though.

gtech (author)gtech2009-09-13

Oops, I just noticed that it has been mentioned in another post... sorry... I also noticed the link for the Bogchairs ... cool... more measurements ;-) I just love these chairs.

maharg20 (author)2008-10-15


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jesse.hensel (author)maharg202009-04-09

It is possible to make the exterior cuts with a basic handsaw. The hole would be difficult (but not entirely impossible) to make without drilling starter holes.

4daHALIBUT (author)2008-07-17

i made it, i varnished it, i love it. Its so simple and so comfy, good job

inca (author)2008-06-08

So, if don't use treadted wood but if you paint it using outoor wood paint..will this work? also what kind of wood do you guys recommend for this?

andes (author)2008-06-01

This is a great chair. But can someone tell me what the cut are on the ends? Thanks

Lil Bastard (author)2006-08-22

Ok you granola-eating hippies. Chill out. Pressure treated wood is still available. When it went on the EPA's blacklist, wood producers wisely ramped up production and, though the supply is almost gone, it is still occasionally available at the less tree-hugging lumber yards, though getting harder to find. Although arsenic is a Very Bad Thing(tm), the health hazard is primarily to infants and small children and it's an issue as to how much contact they have with the material. For a child's playset, pressure-treated wood would be stupid. For a picnic table with small children around, it probably wouldn't be the best idea. But for adult-used furniture, made by an occasional builder, *especially for items that only see occasional use*, it seems to make a lot of sense. Granted, I wouldn't make dinner plates out of the stuff, but if you're only going to be using it for 10-80 hours a year and you aren't licking it, sitting naked on it, or sticking the lumber into your more intimate orifices, then I really don't think it's a big deal.

karisfa (author)Lil Bastard2008-05-30

wow, thanks for the lecture. actually, lumber companies are still making "pressure treated" wood, just not with the arsenic. The new chemicals they're treating it with will cause most nails to corrode quicker, so now we get to pay extra for the right fasteners.

smokehill (author)Lil Bastard2007-11-13

Right -- the EPA is a perfect example of a government entity that once had a real mission, and an important one. As years went by, however, a natural progression would have been for its bureaucracy to get smaller as the longstanding dangers -- especially the worst ones -- were weeded out. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is another egregious example. However, as any of us who have worked in Big Government know all too well, Mission Number One has nothing to do with the published mission statement. Maintaining and growing the bureaucracy is Job One, and everything follows from that. You won't get promoted or get a raise by conquering some Evil Thing -- that only happens if you identify another one and convince everyone that danger lurks everywhere. Which is why the Endangered Species list at first included eagles and Kodiak bears, but now has sunk to protecting microscopic, irrelevant insects, bait fish and local fungus. EPA never managed to show that deck-builders or even people at pressure-treating facilities had a higher cancer rate, but they rammed through their silliness anyhow, based largely on the theory that some kids might chew on the deck boards. If your kids are that poorly supervised .... well, perhaps it's Darwin at work and that bloodline should be shortened.

campa44 (author)Lil Bastard2006-10-07

but I like to sit naked on my chairs...

awkrin (author)2008-05-30

what weight does that chair stand?

cook$ (author)2008-05-30

Nice idea! After a bit of thought, I made my own, but I just cut a notch into each piece of wood and slotted them together.

About This Instructable




Bio: Perhaps I am the heretical harbinger of the New Archaic, perhaps I just like wood.
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