Introduction: Gerrit Rietveld Crate Chair

About: I am a mom of 3, a grandmother of 6, and an accountant. My hobbies are gardening and woodworking.

I love making chairs!

I wanted something like an adirondack chair, but I wanted it to be different.

And I'm drawn to the chairs of Gerrit Rietveld, a Dutch furniture designer. Apparently, he hoped to mass produce his chairs, so he kept them simple.

And who doesn't love simple?

Anyone can make these chairs with just a chop saw, a table saw, some screws, and a drill. Let me show you just how simple Gerrit Rietveld's chairs are.

Step 1: Gather Some Pine

Ugh, my garage!

This project is a GREAT way to get rid of some pine. These chairs can be made out of anything, I suppose, but I recommend pine for your first try. Gather all your pine, and get a pen and paper, and let's get to work.

Step 2: Dimensions

Hard to believe you can make such a sweet chair with so little wood.

For the sides of the chair, you'll build them in an H shape, as shown in the picture. You will overlap the left side of the H over the horizontal piece of the H, while the right side piece will be behind the horizontal piece. That's hard to say. Look at the picture of the H and do that. That will be the right side of your chair. The left side will be just the opposite.


The left and right sides of the H are 22 1/2" X 6" and you'll need 4 of those.

The horizontal piece of the H is 25 1/2" X 6" and you'll need 2 of those.

Now look at the Intro picture of the Rietveld chair. You'll notice that the seat and the backrest look the same. That's because they are!!! They are identical!!! Gerrit Rietveld was a genius.

The seat and the back rest are simply 3 pieces of wood slats held together by 2 thin strips of wood in the back. Easy peasy.


Cut 6 identical slats 17 3/4" X 5 1/4" and then cut 4 strips 18" X 2"


Finally, the arm rests. You'll need 2 of these, one for each arm. They are 25 1/2" X 2 1/2"

Once all your cutting is done, you should sand lightly.

Step 3: Screw and Glue Your H's and Seat and Backrest

The H's are really straightforward. Measure 12" from the bottom of your vertical H board, and make a line. That's where the bottom of the horizontal piece should go. Glue, clamp, and let her dry. Once the glue dries, if you're smart and intuitive, you'll figure out how you can screw that H together without any of the screws showing.

Tip: The front of the chair on both the left and right side has the vertical overlapping the horizontal.

Now, onto the seat and the back rest. As mentioned, the slats are 5 1/4" wide and 17 3/4" long and you will space them out and place the 18" X 2" strips along the edges and glue and screw. That will leave 1 1/8" spaces between the slats. I suggest getting a little spacer to help line things up. I screwed those strips into the slats in the back and they didn't show. Or you can sink them into the wood and fill with wood putty.

Step 4: Attach the H's to the Seat

This is tricky. You might need 2 people and some glue and clamps. The seat needs to be angled slightly back like an adirondack chair, and that angle will be up to you. The seat attaches to the horizontal part of the H's. I glued and screwed the H's to the seat and countersunk my screws and filled them with wood putty. I used deck screws because, well, you'll be sitting on it, and you don't want it to crumble with your weight. The screw holes still show after staining it, but they add character. Then do the same with the backrest, leaving some space between the seat and the backrest, again glue and screw together.

Finally, screw on the arms. The arms are fun because on the right side of the chair, in the front, the screw will be on the right side, but on the back of the chair, the screw will be on the left. And on the left arm, in the front, the screw will be on the left side, but on the back of the chair, the screw will be on the right. This is due to the way the H is built with the overlapping slats. The width of your arm rests is limited by the width of your H.

Step 5: You Have Yourself a Gerrit Rietveld Crate Chair

Maybe even throw a pillow on there.

If you make 4 of these, they would look nice around a bonfire.

Note: The dimensions I provided are from my own trial and error. The first Gerrit Rietveld Crate Chair I made was way too low and people laughed at it. Someone asked me if it was for a child. On my second try, I came up with the dimensions provided. However, you could make it taller or wider or more adirondacky if you'd like.

Happy sitting!!!

SIDE NOTE: If anyone reading this has the plans for a Gerrit Rietveld Steltman Chair, and would like to share them, please let me know. That's my next project. A Steltman Chair made out of 2 X 4's, trimmed and planed.