Light-weight Woven Lawn Chair




Introduction: Light-weight Woven Lawn Chair

About: I'm a tech guy with handy-man tendencies.

I wanted to make a light-weight lawn chair to toss in the back of my car.  Some one had mentioned this style of chair being used as a pack frame, so that is on the drawing board for me.

This is a rehash of IAMSatisfied's chair.  I did mine out of stock lumber instead of ripping stuff down.

Step 1: Materials & Tools


1x2 @ 8'  - qty 2
1x3 @ 8'  - qty 1
Rope (1/4" or just under)  -  ~100'
Using cheap wood and rope it cost about $15 from a local hardware-big-box.

Wood glue


Something to cut wood with (miter saw, chop saw, circular saw, hand saw, well-trained beaver)
Drill with bits (I used both a hand drill and a cheap drill press)
Router with 1/4" bit
Measuring tape
Straight edge
Brad nailer (Optional)
Hand sander
35mm film canister (Kids, check your local museum if you don't know what this is.)

Step 2: Mark & Cut Lumber

Cut the lumber into pieces as listed below.  I tried to come up with the most efficient use of lumber.  If you come up with something better, please let me know.

1x2 #1 = 41", 27", 27"
1x2 #2 = 41", 17", 17", 15 1/2", 2 1/2", 2 1/2"
1x3 = 15 1/2", 13 7/8", 13 7/8"

Please note that for aesthetic reasons the 2 1/2" blocks should be cut at an angle , with 2 1/2" being the longest side.  I used 30 degrees as my chop saw had it labeled.  Just make sure the short side is not shorter than 1 1/2".

Step 3: Glue the Seat Support

First off, we'll piece together the seat support.  The seat frame will rest on this when we are sitting in the chair.

Take the two short, angled blocks and glue them to the 17" piece of 1x2.  The long edge of the angle blocks should be against the 17" piece, with the slopes facing inwards.  I was using Gorilla glue, hence the dish of water to get things damp and the timer.  Clamp and let the glue set.

Step 4: Back Frame Holes - Layout Back Frame

1x2 @ 41  -  qty 2
1x2 @ 17  -  qty 1
1x3 @ 15 1/2  -  qty 1

What we are looking to do here is figure out the confines of the holes needed for weaving the back of the chair.  We don't want holes going too far up or down the side rails, and we don't want them too close to the ends of the top and base rails.

For the side rails this means the holes need to be between the inner edge of the top rails and the base rails.  While straight up measuring would work, I find it reassuring to actually lay it out and see the marks fleshed out.

So, put the top rail (1x3 @ 15 1/2) at one end of the two side rails (1x2 @ 41).  Mark the two side rails where the inner edge of the top rail lands.

The inner edge of the bottom rail (1x2 @ 17, yes it is supposed to be longer than the top rail) should be 9 1/2 inches up on the side rails.  Mark that line too on both side rails.

Step 5: Back Frame Holes - Mark Side Rails

Clamp the side rails together with the previous markings lined up.  A hole spacing of 2 1/2" seems to work nicely.  If you go any tighter, just remember that it will use more rope. 

In order for the holes to be properly spaced, measure the distance we have for weaving, mod for the spacing then divide by 2 to get your starting point.  Feel free to take your shoes off if you need to count on your toes.  Personally, I cheated.  I plan on making a number of these, so I took a sharpie to the back of my metal ruler and marked off the 2 1/2" spacing.  Then I just plunk it down and slide it back and forth until I am happy with the alignment.  However you do it, make sure to strike across both sticks at once so that everything lines up nice.  Also, make sure you aren't too close to the boundary markings.

Then, mark the sticks down the middle so we know our holes will be centered (or at least we can pretend that they will be).

Step 6: Back Frame Holes - Top & Base Rails

Now for the top and base rails for the back.  As noted earlier, these two pieces are different lengths.  So, we need to center the shorter top rail (1x3 @ 15 1/2) on the longer base rail (1x2 @ 17).  An off-set of 3/4" will do the trick.  Then, mark your holes.  I found a 1 1/2" spacing worked better than 2 1/2" just from a layout perspective.  Remember to keep everything lined up across both sticks.

Once the spacing is laid out, mark the base rail in half for the location of the holes.  With the top rail being made of wider material, scribe a line 3/4" in instead of splitting it in half.

Step 7: Seat Frame Holes - Layout Seat Frame

1x2 @ 27  -  qty 2
1x3 @ 13 7/8  -  qty 2

LIke we did for the back, layout the seat frame, with the front and back rails inside the side rails.  Mark on side rails the inner edges of the front and back rails.  If you can get a lovely assistant, feel free to make use of them.

Step 8: Seat Frame Holes - Mark Side Rails

Clamp the two side rails together, aligning the marks.  A spacing of 1 1/2" seemed to work nicely here.  Again, make with the math or use a cheat stick like I did.  Then mark the median of each board to center the holes

Step 9: Seat Frame Holes - Mark Front & Back Rails

Clamp the front and back rails together.  Mark your spacing at 1 1/2".  Then, instead of marking the median, mark a line 3/4" in on each rail.

Step 10: Marking Recap

So now you should have 8 pieces of wood marked for drilling.  The 1x2s should have their marks in the middle and the 1x3s should be 3/4" in from one edge.

Step 11: Drill Drill Drill

Time to drill lots and lots of holes using a 1/4" drill bit.  Remember not to drill at the boundary marks!  I used a cheap drill press which saved my wrist, although not my accuracy.  I probably should have set up some guides....

Step 12: Route for the Ropes

Time to route a channel for the rope to sit in in all 4 side rails.  My rope was about a 1/4" so I set my router to that depth and set my guide so it landed in the center.  You should have a 15 1/2" piece of 1x2 kicking around.  This is a spacer for when we glue up the back frame, but it doesn't have to stay pristine.  I used it as a test piece to make sure my bit was centered and deep enough.

The channel should connect all of the 1/4" holes.  You do not have to do the entire length of the board, but it shouldn't hurt anything if you do.

Step 13: Add a Curve to the Back Side Rails

In order for the chair to sit nicely on the ground, the side rails for the back should have a curve at the bottom.  How you do the curve is up to you.  It could be just a normal arc using a compass, something freehand, or you can use a french curve. It needs to be at the end with the most un-drilled space, at least 9 1/2".  When clamping the rails together, make sure the channels are either facing towards or away from each other.  Do not stack the rails in the same orientation.

Step 14: Back Frame Part One - Top Rail

Lay the back side rails on your bench with the curves down and the routed channels out.  Lay the back top rail between the sides, opposite the curved ends.  The holes in the top rail should be closer to the inside of the frame than the top of the frame.  Mark where it is, pre-drill and counter sink screw holes from the outside of the rails going into the back top rail.

Glue, clamp and screw.  Use the 15 1/2" piece of 1x2 as a space at the curved end so everything can clamp square.

Step 15: Back Frame Part Two - Seat Support

Keeping the frame in its current orientation, next we need to attach the seat support.  This was the 17" 1x2 with the two angled blocks glued on.  There should already be a mark at 9 1/2" on the side rails from a previous step.  Using that as a reference, measure back to the curved ends 3 1/8" and mark it.  Why 3 1/8"?  The seat frame is going to slot between the back bottom rail and the seat rest.  The back bottom rail is 1 1/2" and the seat frame is another 1 1/2", giving a total of 3" plus an 1/8" for wiggle room.  Could we have just measured from the curves?  Maybe, but your carving probably changed the length of the stick, so it is better to go from the fixed reference point of our 9 1/2" mark.

Attach the seat support with the angle blocks on the new marks.  I used my glue and a brad nailer, but screws could work too.  Just make sure to drive your fasteners-of-choice into both the main spar and the angled blocks.

Step 16: Back Frame Part Three - Bottom Rail

Now the bottom rail is going to be on the opposite side of the from from the seat support, so go ahead and flip the frame over.  The bottom rail (1x2 @ 17" with holes drilled) needs to be positioned at the 9 1/2" mark.  This should leave a gap of 1 5/8" between the bottom of the bottom rail and the top of the seat support.  Affix it firmly in place with glue and again your fasteners-of-choice.

Step 17: Seat Frame

This is a piece of cake after doing the back frame.  Just lay the front and back rails inside the side rails.  The side rails should have the channels facing out and the front and back rails should have their holes closer to the inside of the frame.  Once again, mark, glue and secure.

Step 18: Sand and Stain

Sand the whole thing down, making sure to sand off any markings and stamps you don't want to keep.  Then stain/paint/varnish to your heart's content. 

Step 19: Weave It! Weave It Good!

Start in one corner, You can either make a large knot so it won't slip through the hole, go around the rail and tie to itself, or use one of the holes twice and again have it tie to itself.  Some how, you need to make sure that it won't come loose.  Then just go back and forth down the rails.  I found that a film canister is just the right diameter to fit up agains the sticks and act like a pulley,  

When it came time to transition from the side rails, I used a hand drill to add another hole about halfway between the last two (see pictures 4 & 5).  Proceed to weave (over-under-over-under).

Once the weaving is done, feel free to go crazy with the extra.  I did a bunch of half-hitches.  Crazy, huh?

You can also see that I wrapped the back bottom rail.  I'd like to say it was for aesthetics (it does look nifty), or comfort (it may help), but actually it is structural.  I wasn't paying attention when I fastened it and pre-drilled too small of a hole.  It started to crack a little when weight was applied, so this was my fix.

Step 20: Insert Part S Into Slot C on Part B

Slot the seat frame into the back frame until it looks to be a comfy angle and enjoy.  

I've seen folks add stops to the bottom of the seat so it can't slide too far through the back, but I haven't had any issues.

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    7 years ago on Introduction

    I am wondering why you dont tip forward with the legs that far back. what I mean is shouldn't they be farther back? Longer? or is it just the angle of the picture?

    I also another sturdier version made of oak but I want a lighter version. I thought maybe instead of all the rope work stretching an old t-shirt over the seat and back would be easier, cheaper.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Your center of gravity is actually between the legs so it is actually rather stable. The only tipping issues are as I go to get out of it.

    The rope is not only comfy, it also provides a structural element to help keep the frames decently rigid. I'm not sure that a t-shirt would take the weight of a person and still give the needed support. Maybe a heavy towel or canvas?


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    can you extend your feet forward all the way without tipping forward?


    8 years ago

    maybe PVC would be faster cheaper and lighter. I think 1" or better would work.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Saddly PVC will not work. I tried.

    There is no way to get the spacing tight enough on the "seat gap" to keep the chair up right. It might work if you used 2 different sizes of pipe and make the pipe on the seat larger. You wouldn't be able to take it apart though. If the gap is as tight as possible (I even shaved down the T connectors I was using to get that "seat gap" smaller) once you slide the seat past the right angle connectors on the seat to the pipe sections there is a lot of extra room almost an inch. The seat pretty much just lays down. the only ways I even remotely come up with to solve this problem would make the seat to where you couldn't take it apart, defeating the purpose of the chair.

    I really wanted this to work, because I wanted to find a way to turn my PVC pack frame into a chair. But sadly no dice.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I wonder if a curved piece of wood could be used for the "lumbar strut".
    (like off an old, broken chair)
    Padding is also a great idea.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I think I'd try the padding, if anything, first as I like the compact look of the chair. But, a curved piece my fit better. Might be the way to go if I can turn it into a pack frame.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    what about putting several notches in the underside of the seat's sidebars, where it rests on the frame of the back piece, so that you can set the chair to different angles.

    similar to the way the wooden and canvas deck chairs are adjustable.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    So far, I haven't had any issues just sliding it in and out to where I want it before I sit down. It seems that the weight on the seat offers enough friction that is stays put while I'm on it.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Nice.. I was looking for a light weight (reasonably) comfy chair to take with me... (in the car)


    9 years ago on Introduction

    What's that bar like across your back?
    I had a fabric chair with this basic design and the bar really starts to hurt across your lower spine?


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I sit in it for about an hour at a time while my daughter is in dance, and haven't had an issue. It is a 1x3 wrapped in 1/4" rope. i could see maybe putting some padding on it before wrapping it.