Introduction: Folding (pac-n-go) Chair

A chair designed for functionality, affordability, out door comfort, and easily disassembled for storage. More importantly it can be fabricated out of a limited amount of materials and tools.


- Drill with 1/2" drill bit-

- Jig Saw with wood saw blade

- Clamps

- Router with 1/2" dis x 1 1/4" length router bit (optional)

- Palm Sander (optional)

- Pin Nailer (optional)


- 24" x 33" piece of plywood

- wood glue

- Sandpaper full sheets (80, 100, 150, 220)

- 8: 1 1/4" or 1 1/2" wood screws

- 12: 1" pins for nailer (optional)

Step 1: Wood: Measurement

Locating a piece of wood that is at least 24" x 33" x 3/4" will work perfectly. Usually, you can get a half sheet of plywood at your local hardware store 4' x 4' or get a full sheet and you can make (6) of these chairs at once. When you secure this piece you will need to cut it down into 3 pieces. 2: 12" x 30" 1: 3" x 12" Often times you can get it cut down for you at the local hardware store, which is an absolute score! Taking the two larger images begin marking the measurements on the wood to prepare for cutting. I have provided a PDF file with all of these.

1. On both boards (seat and back) on both of the long sides draw a line that is 30" long from top to bottom and 2" in from the edge. 2. Now designate one as the (Seat) and measure 18" from the bottom and draw a line across the 12" width. 3. Select the other board (Back) and do the same measurements you just did on the seat. 4.Also, measure 9" up from the bottom and draw a line across the 12" width. 5. Again with the (Back) board measure 9 7/8" up from the bottom and draw a line across the 12" width. You will see that doing this you created an 8" long x 7/8" wide rectangle that will be cut out in the next step.

Step 2: Back: Cutting Seat Slot

Locate the (Back) seat you drew the measurements for the slot where the seat will (in the end) fit into. We need to remove the 7/8" x 8" rectangle using a drill and jig saw. Taking the drill with a 1/2" drill bit, drill a hole in the middle all the way through. This hole will allow for the blade of your jigsaw to be inserted. With the jigsaw follow the lines and cut out the rectangle.

Optional prepping for next step: Looking at the images you will see that I stayed roughly an 1/8" away from the line. This will allow for me to use a jig and router to make perfectly clean cuts in the next step.

Step 3: Back: Routing Seat Slot

Jig: piece of 1/2" plywood 12" wide and 14" tall. Looking at the dimensions provided mark this board and CAREFULLY do the same steps you just performed with the initial cutting in the (Back) portion of the seat. Going slow will establish the best straightest lines to create repeatable clean routed lines. Sand the edges before you use the jig.

When finished making the jig, clamp it to the (Back) making sure it is flush on all three sides of the chair. Now insert a 1/2" dia. x 1 1/4" length bit straight router bit into your router. Also, attach a brass bushing onto your router base that is 5/8" inner diameter and 1/4" height. The first two pictures show this brass bushing. This bushing is used to ride along the cut you just made in your jig.

Seeing that you are making an interior cut be sure you are routing in a clockwise manner.

Lastly, you will see that the router makes rounded corners. We will need to clean up those corners in the next step or your seat will not work.

Step 4: Back: Cleaning Seat Slot Corners

As stated before, the routed slot will hinder you from sliding in the seat portion. With the jigsaw carefully clean out the corners. It is at this point you would need to check to see that the seat fits in the slot. If you are unable to fit it in then again with the jigsaw continue lengthening the slot.

*With explaining the back section first you will have to come back after cutting the seat to assure it fits.

Step 5: Seat: Cutting Off Sides

Taking the (Seat) board it is time to cut off a portion of the sides. *KEEP* the cut offs they will be used as support on the back side of the (Back). With a jig saw carefully cut off the 18" x 2" long rectangles to measured out and marked in the first step. Personally, I used a table taw and set the fence at 1 7/8" to cut inside the line I drew along the edge. Make sure you don't cut all the way through. I stopped so I would not cut into the seat (look at the images for detail). Next, setting my fence at 12", using a tall miter gauge, and raising the blade to 1 7/8" I cut the small side of the drawn line. Again, this whole rectangle can be cut with a jig saw...the edge just has a potential of not being straight.

With using a table saw your two rectangles are still attached and need to be removed with a hand saw or jigsaw. I personally used a hand saw to have more control. Clamping the loose end to the main seat portion I was able to insert a hand blade and begin cutting off the sides. I use my fingers to press the blade again the edge to establish a straight cut. This is done because the width of a table saw blade and handsaw blade are different thickness. As you near the corner straighten your blade to be vertical so you do not cut into the seat.

Step 6: Seat: Cleaning Corners

Before sanding I suggest cleaning the corner of the seat with a chisel or sandpaper. This is done to assure the seat gets well seated into the back.

*Now go back to step 4 and fit the seat into the back and adjust the back slot if it is tight or won't fit. A little loose is good because you might want to put a finish on the whole chair or paint it. That last addition will add a thickness to the whole chair.

Step 7: Sanding: Back Side Supports

When cutting off the side supports using my jigsaw/ table saw method it leaves a thickness of material at the end. Sand this flush before we attach it to the back side of the (Back). I used a hand palm sander with 60 grit paper. This method is used to prevent rounding the edges of the wood. Keeping it as square as possible will establish a better fit when storing the seat portion. At this point go ahead and sand the whole support to be ready for glue.

Step 8: Sanding: Whole Piece

Before all three back pieces are attached this is a great time to spend on sanding. With plywood being sold rough sanded at about 100 - 150 grit, I typically start sanding at 120 or 180. Then go up in grits...120, 150, 180, 220. Rule of thumb if painting is stopping at 180. If you sand smoother than that the paint has a tough time adhering.

Step 9: Attaching: Long Back Supports

After sanding the two long roughly 2" x 18" boards add a scribble of wood glue. Smooth it out with a finger or an old credit card/ gift card (the best tool to use). Placing them flush along the sides and bottom. *Note* the bottom is indicted by measuring 8" up to the slot (not the 21" length). You can then clamp it and let it cook for a few hours. Personally, I flush the sides and use my pin nailer to secure it into place so I can keep working.

*Before you walk away and the pieces become secure indefinitely, check to see that the pieces are not overlapping the slot made in the first few steps. You can see this in the last two images above.

Step 10: Back Cross Support: Creating

We need now to create the essential support piece that will be attached across the back of the (Back). First, take the last piece that should be roughly 3" wide x 12" long x 3/4" thick. We need to remove an 1/8" thickness off a portion of this piece to assure an easy unbinding storage of the seat. Begin by measuring 2" in from both of the short ends of the board and draw a line across. This line in your guide for removing 1/8" material between these marks. Then, I used a miter saw and flipped the stop on to prevent the cut from going all the way through. With the stop on the cut would only be an 1/8" deep. Looking at the first image you can see this happening by making a cut and moving the wood down to remove this area.

*You could also remove this area with a chisel or attach a thin 3" x 2" x 1/8" material to the (2) areas you measured first.

Step 11: Back Cross Support: Attaching

To attach this piece we need to establish some pilot holes. Pilot holes all the way through allow for the screws to pull to the piece of wood the piece it is being secured to. Begin by marking 4 dots one in each corner of the area 3" x 2" that will be secured to the long side pieces you previously attached to the back. Then take a counter sink bit and drill through the eight dots you just made. If you don't have a counter sink bit, just use a drill bit that is the same thickness of threads or core of the screw you will be using (this method won't allow for the heads of the screws to be flush to the wood surface).

For the next part, place the seat into the back to gauge where you will attach this cross piece. Place the cross piece above the seat and push it right up against the wood. Then slightly pull it away to give room to pull seat in and out of slot. With a pencil, mark a line to guide you to align this piece when glue is added. *Look at image 2 to aid in this process. Just be sure you do not place it underneath where the seat will go, but above. Add glue to the small areas on the cut side and line it up on the drawn line. With eight screws secure this final piece. Using clamps in this process will help in assuring that the two pieces are secured with no gaps.

Step 12: Finished Piece:

Here is the final piece. Now it is completely up to you where you take the surface treatment of this project: stain, paint, draw on, leave raw.

When this project is given to my students, I believe the design is perfect for basing it on an artist or creating your own character. This particular one is based on one of my favorite artist: Joan Miro. Taking many aspects of his paintings I created a character as the back and then made the seat one of his painted feet. I established this so if while teaching I ever put my foot in my mouth I have somewhere to sit.

Step 13: Chair Demo: Video

Enjoy this functional versatile chair.

*NOT my design, but a great project for those interested in woodworking and design.

Step 14: Student Work:

As stated before, I teach this project to my students in many different ways. Also, you can see one aspect of woodworking that interests me greatly is surface treatment. Notice the diversity of techniques I have pushed my students to achieve. Hope you have enjoyed this instructable.

Woodworking Contest

Participated in the
Woodworking Contest