Introduction: Rubber Hose Chair

Picture of Rubber Hose Chair

Nearly every job site or good-sized shop has rubber air hose for running nail guns or a multitude of other tubes. The hose in this project is 3/4" in diameter, about 45 feet long, and is made from tough, flexible rubber. In a former life it was used to run a spray gun for lacquering cabinets. After developing leaks at both ends, it was retired. The rubber is in decent shape, but it shows its age with hairline cracks and thick coating of grime. It was easy to clean with some denatured alcohol and rags. Once clean, cut off the brass or steel fittings at each end.

The resulting chair is really comfortable. It feels like sitting on rubber bands. The trick is to have narrow enough spacing and a tight-enough weave so that your weight is evenly distributing across as many lengths of hose as possible, which will in turn evenly distribute the stress on the hose, preventing sagging and long-term decay.

The overall form is quite reclined, with an interior width of about 22". Assuming the hose is recycled (garden hose would work as well, though it typically is made from thinner rubber), the only other materials are one 2'x 2' piece of 3/4" plywood and four 2' x 1/2" dia. threaded rods with nuts and washers. There is almost no waste from the process, making it quite efficient for both the environment and your wallet. Out-of-pocket costs are about fifteen-twenty bucks, depending.

Step 1: Framin'

Picture of Framin'

The two L-shaped pieces that comprise the sides of the chair are made out of single pieces of 3/4" plywood, cut form a 2' x 2' sheet. That material shouldn't cost more than five bucks or so at the hardware store. Those "Ls" come out of the four sides, creating a rhomboid center leftover pieces, which was cut up to use as the legs. The specific dimensions are not important, as they can be changed to fit your tastes. The angle is obtuse, maybe roughly 100 degrees, and each leg of the "L" is about eighteen inches long. Make sure the pieces are at least four inches at their narrowest point, to provide for strength.

Lay out your pieces, and cut with a circular saw, jigsaw, or bandsaw. Cut the leftover center piece into four roughly equal pieces, or two pairs of matching pieces. I made the back legs a little wider than the front.

Lay the legs on top of the "Ls" and play around with them until you have both an angle of recline that you feel comfortable with as well as a decent height off the ground. My version is only about a foot from the ground to the seating surface at its lowest point. Run a straightedge over the feet to derive the angle at which they will meet the ground and cut off.

Glue and screw the legs to the inside of the "Ls."

Step 2: Holes

Picture of Holes

Measure the diameter of the hose and its length. Calculate the spacing of the holes for the hose based on how long the hose is, i.e. how many back-and-forths the hose can make before you run out. Lay out the centers so that the edge of each hole is at least 3/8" below the edge of the plywood. Make the diameter of each hole 1/16" to 1/8" bigger than the hose to allow for movement. When drilling, go partway through the wood from one side, then flip it over and get the rest drilled out from the backside. This prevents the wood from chipping out and make ragged holes.

Lay out four holes for the threaded rods as well; one at each end of the "L", one at the crook of the "L", and one connecting the back legs near the bottom. Countersink the washers and nuts for a finished appearance. Try to keep the rods as far from the seating surface as possible so they do not interfere with the hose as it sags.

Step 3: Finishing

Picture of Finishing

Since I used construction-grade plywood, the material was quite rough, with sharp edges. Also, the cuts, done freehand with a circular saw, were not as straight as they could be.

To clean up the edges, even out the appearance of straightness, and make the chair smoother to the touch, run a roundover bit in a router all the way around each piece, then sand thoroughly, first with 100 grit, then 120. You could also use a chamfer; I would just recommend that any edge treatment be on the heavier side, say 1/4"-1/2", to make the chair inviting to the touch.

Assemble with the threaded rods. use a ratchet and wrench to tighten the threaded rods and rigidify the chair.

Apply 2-3 coats of polyurethane or similar with a soft rag. Sand with 220 or 320 grit between coats. Do not worry about getting in all the hose holes, as they will be hidden from view. Once the finish is dry and hard, buff in a coat of furniture wax for maximum smoothness.

The last picture shows the total waste from the project; eight small scraps of wood and a small pile of sawdust.

Step 4: Hosin'

Picture of Hosin'

Pin the hose at one end with a screw and a washer. Then "sew" up the sides.

At each hole, brace your feet against the frame and pull the hose through with both arms as hard as you can, to stretch the hose tight. Being rubber, it will inevitably sag over time, so it's best to get it as tight as possible now.

These hoses can handle a tremendous amount of force. Not shown here is my first attempt at this chair, using reclaimed pallet wood. I stretched the hose so tight it snapped part of the frame off, which flew up and almost busted me in the jaw. The plywood in this version is a much stronger material.

That said, you can see in the first photographs in the introduction that sides of the frame curve inward and the legs belly out from the tension of the hose. The threaded rods are also bent into slight "smiles" from the same force; this isn't such a bad thing, as it bends away from the surface of the seat, accommodating the sag of the hose when someone is sitting there.

Sit down and enjoy!


T0BY (author)2016-11-28

This is ace! How unique!

CatDoc (author)2009-08-06

What kid/toddler wouldn't want to crawl through these? They put their head through the top couple of them, then do a forward somersault, winding their trachea into it nice and tight and hanging by their necks.

LauraH3 (author)CatDoc2015-04-16

Not all of us have kids so not all of us need to worry that everything we own is child proof. If you've got a kid and don't think it's safe don't buy it/build it. Simple. The rest of us can build what we want for our own homes.

Silentwolf2004 (author)CatDoc2009-08-09

Im sorry CatDoc but I just cant agree with your comments. The design for this bench is simplistic, economical, and spot on. If one added vertical bracing to the hose to minimize head insertion by a child, I think it would take away from the elastic feel. The world of 'What If's' encompasses everything and anything that isent in our immediate line of sight. What if a child had a loose sock and slipped down the stairs?, What if I I tripped over a rock in the lawn and landed in the pool? What if someone didn't realize a BBQ was running and burnt there hand on it ? The world of 'What If's' is endless. I believe to answer your question, a parent who has concerns about a child's safety, simply needs to be vigilant. I cant see the world ever becoming 'Child Proof'....and if it did, wow would it be a boring Great job on that bench, I think I'm going to 'try' and build me one. Thumbs Up. !!!

well i built one, and the tubes are tight enough and that closetogether that the hypothetical infant would have to have the neck ofchuck norris to force its head in between them...

justbennett (author)KamakaziHero2012-04-04

Finally something that could kill Chuck Norris... If he was a baby... And chose to be killed by a homemade hose chair.

macrumpton (author)CatDoc2009-08-12

I have seen office chairs using a similar suspension system (like bungees), as well as any number of outdoor beach lounges. I suspect if they were deathtraps the design would not be so popular.

jbowe (author)2015-04-15

how long did all of this take to cut and put together? I would like to do a similar project in the architecture woodshop for my last semester, but I have limited time.

petachock made it! (author)2014-09-01

This a great chair. I made a similar one but with climbing rope which worked out alright, got blisters on my hands but worth it. I also made one with a canvas seat before I made a canvas adirondack chair. See the picture below and my other chair here:

JON-A-TRON (author)2014-08-07

This is such a good project (like everything else you post on here). Here's my take on tension / compression seating:

kenyer (author)2014-07-29

really nice

KentaNolin (author)2012-07-06

This is the version I built.
Its made from 2x4's and a 50ft hose.
The joints were inspired by timber framing joints.
and Thank You for the initial inspiration!
This is one comfy chair.

bronco19761 (author)KentaNolin2013-12-02

Could you show a picture of your chair and how you attached the 2x4's. I am considering doing something along this line for an art project and am trying different ideas.

j626no (author)2013-05-11

I'm going to build one of these this afternoon hopefully. I will try to modify the design to be more of a bench and have 2 seats (make it twice as wide but add a third leg in the middle to prevent sagging.

One design improvement I want to suggest...rather than spending a large amount of time making the hose very tight, you could make the chair's tension adjustable. Basically, since you are using all-thread, thread 2 nuts and a fender washer washers onto the cross bars, then add the legs, then put washers and nuts on the outside. Weave the hose to an even tension and secure it with screws (I will probably use grommets to prevent tear-out). Once secured, loosen the outer nuts and adjust the inner nuts to stretch the hose. With this design, the chair can be adjusted over time to compensate for creep that will naturally can also adjust the tension to suit your desired level of comfort. Great project though.


HavocRC (author)2013-03-21

Very creative! I think I might mess around and make one sometime.

rhagen (author)2013-01-26

Here is my very similar version. This is 3/8 pvc hose so not as elastic as the rubber. I used 3/8 all thread and it is plenty strong. It was tough to tighten and work with the pvc hose and that caused the ply to bow in. I also added a bolt to each leg to lock them in place. Painted the edges white as I don't have a router and those plunge cuts caused chipping on the ply.

Pretty fun project. It was tough to get the proper angle on the setup but I just guessed and went for reclined position. Thanks for the directions

wholman (author)rhagen2013-01-27

Turned out really handsome! Thanks for sharing. Is it comfortable?

GenAap (author)2012-03-31

I love your work. Everything you make and publish is so simple, functional and just makes sense. Thanks for sharing!

bs1m0ne (author)2012-02-09

just had a crazy idea. you could make this chair with rope lights! don't know how the ends would work but it would be cool if you could figure it out!

reref (author)2012-01-25


dombeef (author)2009-08-08

You should make it so that you run water through it to make it water cooled

ashwinlit (author)dombeef2012-01-21

Yeah, it could be possible but as you see in the pictures te hose is pressed togetger in the holes in the wooden frame, so if you want to get water in the hose, you need to find a way on how to you can keep the hose open all the way, so that the water will not be stucked.

(i'm sorry for my terrible english, I hope you understand)

siafulinux (author)dombeef2011-06-16

... or water heated piping would be nice outside during colder months.

s1a1t1a1n (author)dombeef2009-08-17

Wasteful, but awesome.

M4industries (author)s1a1t1a1n2010-06-13

Could be a closed loop.

dombeef (author)M4industries2010-06-13

Yeah with a solar panel to power the pump

M4industries (author)dombeef2010-06-13

0.o Two hours for a response! That is lightning on this site! Good job.

dombeef (author)M4industries2010-06-14

Once someone replied to me in a half minute

Yerboogieman (author)s1a1t1a1n2009-08-17

Not if you water the....Good Point!

siamonsez (author)2011-07-30

Looks super comfy, and nice finish on the wood. The metal struts look bowed, is that from the tension in the hose? Maybe that type/size hose is a bit overkill but better to use what you have than buy something. Great idea.

volt1000 (author)2011-06-16

thanx help!

topkun (author)2010-10-12

Thank you Mr. Wholman. You are my inspiration.
I had made chair similar you but i chang from rubber to rope.
It's very strong but not complete .I will modify somthing, add arm , change kind of rope and so on. I will appreciat if you comment.
Thank you again.

M4industries (author)2010-06-13

That looks very comfy to sit in for an afternoon. It would be even better with latex surgical tubing pulled taught. Home Depot sells it for around $3 per foot.

djswan (author)2010-05-23

Hey I know that you said that the dimensions were not important but I was hoping that you would share the dimensions that you used on the chair because I don't want to screw up.

wholman (author)djswan2010-05-23

 can't say i remember off the top of my head, as i don't have the chair anymore, but it's something around two feet wide (the wider, the more the sag in the hose, so be careful there), the front edge of the seat (where your knee hits) is about fourteen inches off the ground, the seat is probably eighteen inches deep, and the back eighteen inches tall.  

djswan (author)wholman2010-05-24

Thanks for the help.

KoolAidDisaster (author)2009-12-28

You know what would be great, if you put another hose through vertically! It would sort of be like a hardcore lawn chair. Great work man!

yusufamir (author)2009-12-14

this is a very nice idea indeed, much satisfies my hunger for curry. :)

moo of the cow (author)2009-09-04

cool this must be expensive to buy those hoses

na you can find air compressor hose pretty cheap at most hardware stores

hassi (author)tbird450392009-11-18

Lowe's has 3/4" x 50' rubber air hose for $45.00


A tad bit 'spensive for my taste, but that's just me...

Might want to maybe hang out at your local Habitat Re-Store for a few weeks to see if one comes in...

Lance Mt. (author)moo of the cow2009-09-05


realgenius65 (author)2009-08-21

Wow, am I ever impressed!!! As a wood worker and recycler I find this to be an awesome project and the cost is "Perfect"!!!!!

cchamlin (author)2009-08-02

very cool design, but one complaint from a mechanical engineer: circular rod is at its weakest under axial compression, like you have it loaded here. that bend is going to increase over time, as the tension of the hose and the weight of people sitting in the chair work together to splay out the legs. the best fix would be to put a piece of wood or square metal tube where the threaded rod is now, (both are strong in compression and less prone to buckling) and move the threaded rod down below it. that way the bar acts as a fulcrum: the tension in the hose and the tension in the rod are on opposite sides and will oppose each other, the legs will stay straight and your chair will stay strong throughout its lifetime. good luck!

wholman (author)cchamlin2009-08-03

i am aware of the relative strengths and weaknesses of threaded rods. it has become apparent to me from many of the comments on this particular instructable that people have not actually read the article, only looked at the pictures. i address the rods tendency to "smile"; from a design standpoint, it is actually beneficial, because the curve of the rod is parallel to the curve of the hose when loaded, thus keeping your legs and back from resting on the rods instead of the hose when sitting. many chairs made from two parallel braced frames with woven seating surfaces use u-shaped stretchers to address this very issue. seems like architects and engineers always butt heads . . . .

3.1415 (author)wholman2009-08-07

I am a former engineer and now a physics teacher and I have to weigh in, though I usually don't... The only thing missing is a babe in a bikini otherwise this project is perfect! Architects ARE buttheads, engineers are too, and Instructables is awesome! I think a new policy of instructables should be for a "project reviewer" to provide a picture of the improvement they suggest....a picture is worth a thousand words as the cliche goes.

Denger (author)wholman2009-08-06

A beautiful design, but I have to agree with cchamlin: if built as designed, this chair will not gracefully withstand years of repeated usage. From both a practical and an aesthetic design perspective, plywood cross braces make much better sense, and are probably more economical, too (depending on the type and grade of plywood used).

wholman (author)Denger2009-08-06


please see two pictures i added at the end of the first step.

these are of the first attempt at making this chair. i used the engineer's approach: i built a very rigid frame out of dimensional lumber braced with plywood. and you're absolutely right; it didn't flex an inch while i was stretching the hose through it. instead of flexing, it failed suddenly and catastrophically. the failure was caused by, amongst other things, splitting along the grain of the dimensional lumber.

the first solution that comes to mind is to make a more rigid, more massive frame to contain alll the stored energy in that stretched hose. however, i quickly realized that to do that, i would have use massive pieces of wood or weld the frame from steel or alumnium.

the other solution is to work with rather than against the tension. i made the frame out of plywood, which is very strong yet flexible. it also has no grain, so holes made for the hose or by fasteners couldn't be a starting point for a split along the grain.

now, essentially the whole chair is in tension: the rubber is stretched; the plywood is bowed; and, as the legs splay out, they actaully attempt to stretch the rod between the back feet, as well as lever on the rods above, evening out some of the compression. as the rubber slackens over time, i can just pop one of the two screws that pin the hose in place, re-tension, and screw back in.

this solution responds to all the tensile forces actively, instead of passively. it also allows the whole chair to act as one "web of tension" instead of pitting rigidity against flexibility -- because, sooner or later, one of those forces has to win. (author)wholman2009-08-06

We are not all butt heads, however as soon as I looked at your pictures I saw exactly what the other gentleman saw, and I'm an Electrical and Controls Engineer. It never hurts to have assistance. My opinion, good job... but improvements can be made..... as they can be made to any design. Good luck

i dont think he was sayin engineers are butt heads; i think he was saying that engineers 'butt heads' with architects (as in dissagree) cool looking chair btw. im suprised that the design takes the tension!

About This Instructable




Bio: Furniture hacker. Author of Guerilla Furniture Design, out now. Find me on Twitter and Instagram @objectguerilla.
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