Picture of The Climbing Chair
tree diagram.png
Original Chair.jpg
The basic principle of "The Climbing Chair": a chair supported by rope on 4 corners to keep it balanced in the air while sitting in it. It is attached to another rope used to hoist yourself up. By pulling down on the rope, you and the chair are lifted. There is also a lock attached (where the red circle is in the diagram) to allow the user to suspend without having to hold onto the rope. This allows you to just "hang out" after pulling yourself up. See diagram below.

When I was younger I loved to climb trees. Nothing was more exciting. In my backyard there was one tree in particular I wanted to climb. One problem though, the lowest branch was roughly 25 feet (7.6 meters) in the air. So I started to think of how I could possibly climb it. For some strange reason I thought of tying rope to a chair. It turns out it is a very effective way to climb. This project, as strange as it sounds, is fun and a great workout for your upper body.

I have always hated these things but here it goes: I take no responsibility and will not be liable for problems or injury that may occur. This can be dangerous so check and recheck your gear before climbing. Make sure all of the equipment you use can handle the weight many times the actual load. There, short and sweet.
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vincent75203 years ago
When the chair is up there, did you hoist the table 1st or do you pull it up after ??…
Question is important as I guess that you will agree on the two following points :
1) a chair is not an armchair ; it is not meant to rest but to sit at a table and possibly do some work ;
2) I'm sure you didn't go into this painful useless knots (*) conceptions without having an idea of what you'll do in that tree.

(*) perfectly useless knots : 3 or 4 well made knots that one is able to tie and untie in any condition (numb hands or with one hand only, by night with no vision at all, done fast even in any position, etc…) are worth all the knots done by the book which give only a useless step by step instead of the true movement of the rope in one's hands.

More seriously I think that instructables as yours with knots so complicated as you show is downright dangerous as some will most certainly be badly done…

sorry for being so critical about your inst as you took great pain to post it but that's really what I feel about it.
kretzlord6 years ago
reading through this whole page, i haven't seen anyone mention mechanical advantage (maybe i wasn't looking hard enough). If you use a compound pulley system, you could make it way easier to pull yourself up, even if you have to pull more rope. just a thought!
Awesome danger factor, though. I used to have a zip line i made in my backyard with polyprop rope, a cheap pulley, and a chunk of wood, i don't know which is more dangerous between the two, but danger = adrenaline = fun!
danger = adrenaline = fun for you maybe
encouraging others to do something dangerous = irresponsible for me
if ur stupid enough to do it (like me) u can do what kretzlord suggested (or if u want to look cool) and not be a safety freak so leave him alone
soad226 years ago
seems fun!


I hate to poop on everyone's party, but this can tear the bark off the tree branch, esp. if the bark is flaky and crumbly. If you make something like this, then you are good to go.
shrimps7 years ago
As quite a few people have mentioned before static rope, sometimes called abseil rope, would definately be the way to go here. Its massively strong, streched very little and most importantly is sheathed. If a rope is running over a rough surface under load, the individual fibres start to break one by one. Sheathed ropes are surrounded by what is essentially a very durable tube, which increases their wear massively. Its really not that expensive because it can be bough by the metre. It is however not very easy to bend or tie knots in, so a less durable rope would probably suffice for the chair attachment system.

A small point would be not to suggest to people to use bowlines. They are extremely strong knots when tied correctly, but it is very difficult for the average person to tell just by looking at it whether it has been tied correctly. Also under load and without a stopper knot they can very easily untie themselves. A much safer alternative to suggest would be a re-tied figure of eight. It is easier to identify, easier to tie and just as strong.

Finally an altogether better way of temporarily halting the ascent or descent would be to use a prusik knot, the French prusik would be best but the standard one works almost as well. It would take a lot of adjustment on the design: lower attachment point on the chair, removal of knots from rope, the purchase of a karabiner (as little as $5) and finally the purchase of 1m(ish) of 5mm static climbing cord.

Dont mean to rubbish the idea, but to keep it safe it needs some changes. Have a look at climbing and specifically 'aid climbing' techniques on the internet for ideas. [ This] is a good start, albeit a little full on.
Under a load is exactly when a bowline knot does not untie itelf.  It is when a load is absent that the knot comes untied.  The author can attest to the safe working of the device.  It is not as though it is theoretical.
ilpug5 years ago
 so your some kind of super strong guy right? its hard to pull yourself up in this configuration
dchall87 years ago
I like to try to be positive with comments but these might possibly come across as less that positive. Are you freakin crazy? Ahem. First of all, even if you had 10,000 pound test rope, your center of mass (or center of gravity) is above the center of lift thus leaving you with an unstable situation. If you were belted into the chair with a 5-point hitch, I could give you a pass on this as a wild carnival ride, but as it, this thing is dangerous (which I'm sure the added danger is a + for many readers). The saving grace is that NORMALLY, the center of mass is well within the center of lift. But because of the relatively narrow lift points and the relatively large freedom of motion of the rider, it could happen that the center of gravity could travel beyond the lift points and topple the rider and chair. In other words, I want to see either a lift point above the center of gravity and/or outriggers on the chair. Not only would I not use this chair higher than I was willing to fall, I would not use one higher than I was willing to spin over and whack my head on the ground. And if you're a slouchy sitter, maybe this isn't the hobby for you. Secondly, why in the world did you choose polyprop rope? The only advantage it has in life is that it floats, so (1) you can find your water ski rope when you drop it and (2) your anchor line might not get caught in bottom trash. Otherwise it has almost no UV tolerance, stretches wildly, doesn't like to be knotted, and breaks easily. Nylon rope is not a good alternative due to 200% - 400% stretch possibilities, but you can find inexpensive polyester rope that does not stretch and has much better properties than polyprop. If you have to make one of these, please use a better rope. If you don't want to use rock climber's rope, visit a marine supply and ask to see a non-stretch rope. They might point you to a zero-stretch Kevlar, but you don't need that. Any polyester (Dacron is one brand name) will do. A little bit of stretch is better than 200% - 400% stretch I've gotten out of nylon.
What's the metric measure of gravity?

Wow... This comment is late...
Whoa...This was before I knew Physics...
Yeah dchall8 is right this looks quite dangerous, the rope is terrible and it looks like that chair could flip over at any time. This is like that guy that tried to fly by attaching all those weather balloons to his lawn chair. Your weight distribution causes way too many problems for it to be safe, you know what would work better and simpler though is: A good rope (I have plenty of rock climbing rope that would work well) with a noose tied at one end. Then you throw the other end over the lowest branch of the tree you want to climb, if you just can't seem to throw it high enough tie a weight to that end of the rope and then throw it. The weight will help you to throw the rope farther and with more accuracy. Nothing too heavy though! Then once your rope is secured over the lowest branch with both ends touching the ground you put one foot IN the noose, standing on the rope and pull the other end of the rope DOWN to lift your end UP. Naturally this wouldn't be good for sitting below the branch but it would get you to it. And if you wanted to just dangle beneath the branch make yourself a harness out of the rope and something you could tie the rope off to on the trunk of the tree. I suggest you wear gloves and a helmet for this for fear of rope burn or falling. Also if anyone should try this I'm not responsible for what you or anyone else does with this information should you incur damage to yourself, anyone or anything else I am not responsible. :)
its balanced on four ropes as you see on the picture so it wont tip over
to sit in it , though my buddies and i do this alot, you can just always turn your foot sideways and sit on your foot with the rope between your legs.
<(.<) <(.)> (>.)>
one note- you definately wouldn't need to waste money on a climbing rope, which would probably be longer than you need (it usually comes in about 200 foot coils) but also using climbing rope would be overkill. climbing rope is made to withstand long, hard falls in which many times the users weight is put on the rope. you could use however rappelling rope, or static rope, which has very little or no stretch but will hold much more than your weight (unless you happen to be an elephant). btw climbing rope will cost you between $150 and $250 and static rope would be about $100
xx-309 dchall87 years ago
Wow buddy where's your sence of adventure? Fun? Excitement? I agree with the rope idea but if your worried about falling over howsabout using a harness.
This is for people under 500 pounds.
gmoon dchall87 years ago
If you do try this with a rope designed for rock climbing, understand there are two type of climbing ropes: dynamic and static.

Dynamic rope are the normal type used for general climbing, leading, etc. They have about 5-8% elongation (good thing in a fall.)

Static ropes are used for long rappels, anchors, hauling, jugging (climbing) the rope. They stretch <1%. Static ropes also have 10x the abrasion and UV resistance. Static rope would be your best choice.

'course, if you invest in good ropes, you'll also probably buy ascenders, etc., and do it right ;-) ...
rouss (author)  dchall87 years ago
Thanks for the input. I believe I understand what you are saying about the center of mass and the center of lift. What I know is it does work and it is an effective way to climb. By no means am I an expert. I have done this for many years and I have never had any problems with the balance of the chair or a risk of falling out by spinning over and falling out. When a user is in the air, sitting in the chair they are able lean back and rest their back on the chair without spinning backwards and falling out. They are able to sit in the chair as a normal chair. Actually I have found you have to try hard to flip yourself backwards by pushing on the rope connected to the chair and allowing yourself to flip backwards (I have tested this thoroughly). When flipping back the two ropes connecting to the rear of the chair, will bare the weight instead of distributing the weight to all four ropes. The two back ropes will then rest on the legs of the user. The legs will be sandwiched between the rope and the bottom of the chair. The legs can be used to hold the user in the chair by utilizing the rope because the rope is in the shape of an upside down V ( /\ ) and the legs are straight, parallel ( || ). So, the legs are between the rope and the bottom of the chair. By no means do I recommend hanging upside down but I have successfully hung completely upside down many many times and have never fallen out. Once I am done being upside down I can swing myself back up the normal position. If the user is really worried about safety then they can wear a harness that is attached to the quick link above. The biggest danger about this project is the user not being able to hold their own weight, not flipping backwards. As for the rope there are a couple of reasons for my choice. 1. Again I am not an expert and I did not make a good choice. I did however try to choose something that would work. 2. I am currently not in a location to purchase a climber's rope or any other rope that would suffice but I will revise this instructable when I am able. With the exception of the rope choice, it is not as dangerous as you believe it to be I am not saying there is no risk because there is a significant risk factor involved but speaking from personal experience with this device it is not horribly bad.
Squid Tamer5 years ago
Cool! I wouldn't trust it over 5 ft in the air, but that's because of me, not your design. (I'm no climber either. I would need some sort of pully system to be able to move. :))
fkuk5 years ago
so you have to pull all of your weight up there are not pullys as such
theRIAA5 years ago
this isn't any more dangerous than climbing a tree free handed, or letting an old person drive. Everyone needs to calm down. This isn't gonna tip because he's holding into the sides of the rope that supports the chair. Even if the entire chair disintegrated, he would still be wraped up in the lines. and the rope is fine, the reason people use it is because it's CHEAP. It's main disadvantage is that it doesn't hold knots well, but his knots are WAY OVERKILL and will never come undone. This is an awesome idea, and I know you have fun in it. You should add some tiki torches to chair, and Christmas lights, and a zip line to a pool!
necropolian6 years ago
yeah, and the rope needs to withstand a BIG amount of pressure. the part that is on top of the branch is already supports your weigth, and if the rope is moved the branch (rigid) will litterally tear apart your rope. which will result in falling down. and the G-force of the fall, combined with the back of the chair can cause a serious neck injury. and you will know all the other 'happy endings' if you know a bit about physics. so sorry, a 0.5, for endangering the human kind.
tron1o77 years ago
this is cool but i cant make it cause i dont have any good trees for this kind of stuff at my house and plus the way the rope is rigged looks confusing...
Derin tron1o76 years ago
you could handle that with metal rods placed to be sturdy enough for your weight
Derin Derin6 years ago
welded that is
tron1o7 Derin6 years ago
ya well the problem with that is that im not old enough to weld and dont know how since im only 14 =\
Derin tron1o76 years ago
it is pretty simple actually and for the age problem I am 10 yrs and my parents are thinking of teaching me how to weld
fizil7 years ago
You should really rig up a system that isn't dragging your rope across the branch. I'm sure the tree won't like that long term.
marc927 years ago
A quick homemade harness that could be used in this situation as an extra measure of saftey is here (provided you dont own a harness)
But I must say, from experience, this is not the most comfortable harness (if you know what I mean)
MDude7 years ago
Nice, although when I saw the title I was hoping for an instructable on how to make a chair climb a hill under it's own power. :p
Wow! Yes the system works, but as a former rope rescue instructor and a professional arborist, please be careful! The standard for human suspension is a system comprised of a minimum breaking strength of 5000 lbs. The rope you are using was made to secure a boat to a dock. The picture attached shows me and a buddy over 10 years ago hanging out over a 50 ft gorge. Please note that we are wearing harnesses that are attached to the main line. We are not risking injury if the chairs (that felt sturdy) broke. When you are pulling yourself up, the system gives you a little less than a 2:1 mechanical advantage. By adding some pulleys and some sliding hitches, you can increase that mechanical advantage and make it easier for a person to lift themselves up and increase the safety locking system. I have personally rigged systems that have taken a 2 year old and a 75 year old 30 ft into a tree before. Not on a chair though and with some assistance. I don't want to knock your idea too much but I would not recommend going higher than you are willing to fall. Or you may be sitting in another type of chair for some time to follow. I have seen people who have not thought they were risking much get really hurt with short falls. Also, was it not hard to pull the rope over the branch when there was a knot there? Please be careful. By the way, your knots are excellent and well dressed.
rouss (author)  dave spencer7 years ago
Thats an awesome picture! It is great to see someone who has used the chair before. Thanks for the advice. I will be revising my instructable when I am able get the proper climbing rope. The knots in the rope can sometimes get in the way on the tree branch and make it hard to pull but surprisingly I have not had too much trouble with it. Also, the original one I made I used overhand knots and this time around I used stopper knots. It seems to me the stopper knots are easier to pass over the tree. The knots make it much easier to climb and allow the user to stop in the air.
Hugo.B7 years ago
Talk about armchair travelling!