Folding Festival/camp/beach/go Anywhere Chair



Introduction: Folding Festival/camp/beach/go Anywhere Chair

About: multi maker -- small woodworking, mosaics, quilting, diy, vintage trailer restoration

I take this chair EVERYWHERE. It fits just about any place. It's terrific for outdoor music festivals. It's traveled thousands of miles with me. I can stow it in a canoe, and it's perfect around the camp fire, and tucks easily into my vehicle.. There's some attention to detail in the angle cuts and mortises but it's really pretty easy to make. You can also add a strap and make it even easier to carry around.

Step 1: Materials


  • 1 10' 1x2 (.75x1.5) hardwood Ash or Oak.
  • 9 ft hardwood flooring 2" x .25 inches (you can also substitute pallet wood)
  • 40 #8 1 1/4" deck srews
  • 24 7/16” Upholstery nails
  • Gorilla Glue or wood glue, Sand paper, Danish Oil
  • Fabric 18” x 18” fabric for back (Salvaged sign vinyl, outdoor fabric, sunbrella)
  • Optional Pillow : 1/2 yd fabric, 1 11 x13.5 pillow form

Tools: Jigsaw and circular saw (opt), Drill, square, Counter sink bit, hammer, chisel, clamps.

Step 2: Overview and Cut List

Overview: This chair is composed of 2 parts: The seat and the back. The seat slides into the back to make the chair, and will “nest” into the back for flat storage. In making the chair parts, it is important to make sure that the width of each piece is accurate so that the chair will fit together. All screw holes need to be pre drilled and countersunk. Project time ~3hours. Expense-- Can be $25-30 if using new materials, can be near zero if you scavenge.

CUT LIST— Cut all pieces. Sand the faces and round over all the edges and organize into seat and back piles. BACK: • 2- 27.5 inch 1x2 • 1 13.5 1x2 •3- 13.5 inch flooring

SEAT • 2 21.5 inch 1x2 • 4 - 13.5 inch flooring

IF YOU WANT A WIDER CHAIR (some folks like 15") just increase all your measurements from 13.5 to whatever your preferred dimension is and increase your amounts as well. I would not go wider than 16 inches without adding some additional bracing. Doing so however may compromise the ability to fold the chair into itself. Other dimensions remain unchanged.

Step 3: Make the Back

  1. Cut one end of each 27.5” 1x2 as shown a 45 degree angle starting 1/2 inch from the end.
  2. On the other end on the same side of the angled cut, cut a 1.5 inch long by .75 inch deep notch.
  3. Mark for the 1/4" mortised notch for a double piece of stop. It should be 1/4" inch proud of the back stile. Use the jig saw to make short cuts up to the line, then chisel to chip out the pieces and smooth the areas. Sand to smooth.
    • Note you can also use a doubled up piece of the slat material (flooring). Laminate two pieces together with a generous amount of glue and clamp to dry.
  4. Place stop pieces into mortised notch. Use square to line up pieces at 90 degrees—outside measurement should be 13.5 inches. (VARIATION-- if you are making a wider seat...adjust accordingly)
  5. Drill and countersink 2 holes evenly spaced and centered. Use wood glue (Titebond II). Attach with screw driver being careful not to over tighten. Use manual screw driver for last few turns.
  6. Fit the remaining 13.5" 1x2 in the notch that you cut at the other end of the rail. Make sure everything is square, drill pilot holes, glue and screw as shown.

Step 4: Make the Seat

  1. Cut one end of each of the 21.5” seat rails as shown for the ground rest (this is the steeper angled cut). I'm terrible with angles.. It's about 20 degrees .and it doesn't have to be precise as long as both are the same.
  2. Nest the seat rails inside back section. This will ensure that the seat section fits inside the back just right.
  3. The outside measurement for the seat rails should be 12” (or wider if you have chosen a wider seat)
  4. Line up 4 slats starting just 1/4" from the end. (the side opposite the angle cut and at the other end) Space slats ~ 1/2 inch apart. From first slat to last will be 10 inches--this is important if you are using slats that are narrower or wider than 2 inches. The ends of the slats should line up with the edges of the back rails.
  5. Check for square and then pre drill and counter sink 2 holes on each side of each slat. Dry fit with a couple of screws per slat. When it's all good, go ahead and glue and screws

Step 5: Add Other Back Stop Piece

Slide the seat into the chair to mark where the last back rest cross piece (flooring slat) should go. It should slide well, but still be a tight fit.

Drill, countersink and screw in temporarily

TEST FIT. Slide seat into back and test it out. If it doesn’t slide in check for square and correct size, adjust as needed.

When the fit is correct. Glue and screw

Step 6: Finishing


  1. Lightly sand all pieces (you can do this while you are waiting for glue to set)
  2. Cut your selected backing fabric to correct dimensions.
  3. Sew binding along one edge.
  4. Use chisel or utility knife to chip off any excess glue
  5. Apply Danish oil liberally with foam brush. 2nd coat can be applied after 15 minutes. Allow to set for 30 minutes. Wipe off excess with rag until dry. If using another finish follow manufacturers directions.
  6. WAIT 24 HOURS for finish to cure.

Step 7: Attaching Seat Back

  1. Fold over ends of seat back so that it will be centered on the back stiles.
  2. Attach to back with upholstery nails on one side at top, middle and bottom.
  3. Stretch to other side (adjust fold if needed) and attach nails to top middle and bottom.
  4. Attach remaining nails, alternating between sides until done.

Tip-- Use a pair of needle nose pliers or a hemostat if you have one to hold the upholstery tacks.

Step 8: Pillow (optional)

  1. Cut 2” foam to 11 x 14 using electric knife
  2. Cut a piece of fabric 15” x 30”
  3. Finish 15” raw edges by folding over twice and stitching edge.,
  4. Fold with right sides together so that you have a rectangle 15”x12.5”, there will be a significant overlap
  5. Stitch the 12.5 inch sides together with a ¼ inch seam allowance.
  6. Turn inside out, and stuff pillow inside.

If you made your chair a different width, adjust accordingly.

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