Introduction: Make Your Own Tub Chairs and Add Slipcover

About: Easy and affordable DIY projects and ideas.

One of my favourite and most comfortable chairs is a tub chair and you can make your own for a fraction of the cost. I don't care if they are trendy are not... they are comfortable and if you can upholster or make a slipcover in your choice of fabric.

The tub chair shown above is fitted with a slipcover that can be removed and dry cleaned or washed, depending on the type of fabric. The chair is covered with a smooth lining fabric to allow easy removal and fitting of the slipcover. I will be making two versions of the tub chair... this one with a slipcover and a second that is upholstered. The instructions for the upholstery can be found here and you can find instructions for the slipcover here.


2 of 700 x 700mm 16mm MDF (or plywood or particleboard)

1 of 120 x 450mm 16mm MDF (seat support)

11 x 120 x 400mm 16mm MDF (seat support)

3 of 20 x 69 x 1800mm PAR pine

1 of 700 x 1800mm Masonite or hardboard

Corrugated cardboard sheets (use an old (large) cardboard container)

Piece of Masonite / hardboard for front panel (see final)

Wood glue

Contact adhesive

4.5 x 50mm screws

Sheet of 25mm thick medium density foam


Bosch Tacker

Drill / Driver and assorted bits

Jigsaw and clean-cut blade

Pockethole jig or steel angle brackets and screws

Craft knife and sharp scissors

Tape measure and pencil

Step 1: Make the Frame for Your Tub Chair

The method for making the tub chair is actually quite simple once I worked out the best materials and assembly. The seat assembly provides the first level of support and the pine struts are mounted to the base and the seat. The hardboard sheet around the outside also adds even more support.

1. To make the curved back for the seat and base mark a line 250mm from the front edge and 350mm from the sides. At the centre hammer in a panel pin and use a length of chain and pencil to draw a half circle.

2. Cut out the base by following the drawn line and for the seat draw a second line 69mm in to cut out the top frame and the seat from one section.

3. Cut half joints in the two base support sections to join these together.

4. Attach the seat support to the underside of the seat by drilling pilot holes through the top. Secure with 50mm screws.

5. Centre this on top of the base and draw the outline onto the underside of the base, so that you know where to drill pilot holes to attach the seat section to the base with 50mm screws.

6. To ensure a sturdy design I used my pockethole jig to drill holes along the edge of the seat in order to secure the pine struts to the top seat. If you don't own a pockethole jig (shame on you!) you can use steel angle brackets instead. You won't see these once the chair is finished as the seat cushion will cover them.

7. The pine struts are 600mm long, so you can cut 3 out of a 180mm length of PAR pine. Each strut is attached to the seat (via the pocketholes) and also secured through the base with 2 screws.

8. Although I took this photo one step later, this step is to add the top frame onto the struts using two screws on each strut.

9. No you can bend and secure the Masonite / hardboard to the outside. I used wood glue and screws to hold the starting point in place and then clamped and screwed as I worked the board around the frame. Be gentle... you don't want the Masonite to break.

GOOD TO KNOW: The screw heads must sit on top of the board to hold it in place. If you drive them too deep the board will pop off.

You have to be clever when securing the Masonite / hardboard to the frame. It does help if someone can assist you with this and to hold the board while you screw it down.

Even though you use wood glue, screws alone will not hold the board for very long. Add panel pins along the top and bottom edge, and also where the struts are located. Hammer the pins in and leave a 10mm strips that can be bent over. This, and the screws, will hold the board securely onto the frame. I also added staples.

I needed to cut the top edge of the hardboard to fit. Bear in mind that this was a prototype and I was making the design up in my head as I went along. The easiest way to cut off the excess was with my Dremel MultiMax and saw blade.

10. I was originally going to fit Masonite around the inside of the frame, but is kept breaking. As an alternative I recycled a cardboard box to make the support. The corrugated cardboard is extremely strong (double layer) and works just fine. The cardboard was glued and staples to the inside of the frame and struts. You can see how I started with Masonite but finished with cardboard.

Step 2: Add the Foam to the Frame

3 metres of lining fabric

Medium-weight batting, scraps will do or buy half a metre

Fabric glue or contact adhesive

Scrap fabric to cover base

4 legs and 16mm screws


Bosch Tacker

Craft knife and sharp scissors

Tape measure and pencil

Sewing machine and accessories

1. Cut the foam to fit around the inside of the frame, and also for the front. Note that the front sections should be wide enough to cover the foam being fitted outside the frame.

2. Use contact adhesive to glue the foam to the frame at the top and bottom, and also to the struts.

GOOD TO KNOW: If you need to cut the foam sheet into sections, use a craft knife to mark and sharp scissors to cut.

3. Also cut foam for the top of the frame. Here you can add your own level of thickness. I simply used the same thickness foam for the top.

Step 3: Cover With Lining Fabric

4. The lining fabric was cut to fit over the front sections of both sides, with plenty of excess fabric at the top, bottom and sides for stapling to the chair frame. Make sure you press the tacker or stapler down very hard to penetrate the wood underneath the foam.

GOOD TO KNOW: Don't worry too much about where you staple, as you will be able to cover this up with thin batting.

5. To wrap the main part of the chair cut 3 sections of lining fabric long enough to staple to the seat base, wrap over the arms and staple underneath the base. Staple the back section in place first and then add the two side sections, overlapping the sections. Make sure to fold under the fabric at both ends (on seat base and under base) to prevent from tearing and use a staggered arrangement of staples. Don't forget that you can use thin strips of batting to fill in where there are staples.

6. Use fabric glue or contact adhesive to wrap the ends of the sides over the front panel. I used contact adhesive because it dried much faster. Bear in mind that all this will be covered up with the slipcover. You just want to shape the foam and have a finish that allows for easy fitting of the slipcover.

7. For a professional finish add a scrap of fabric to the base to cover up the staples. Cut to fit and glue this in place with contact adhesive.

8. Position the legs and screw these in place.

Now you are ready to make the slipcover and you will find full instructions for this on