Introduction: Reclaimed Wood Patio Armchair

Two years ago I made a patio for our backyard but it remained unused mainly because there is no outdoor furniture. I could never bring myself to spend 2000+ CAD for some good quality furniture that probably I would use 3-4 month per year for a grand total of few hours per week during that time.

So my secret plan was to build the patio furniture out of pallets, but I could never find the time to prioritize this over other things.

During this 2 years I've piled:

-few pallets

-some discarded wood from a playground which was outgrown by the children,

- and tones of Pinterest pictures with ideas.

From all these images I really liked the creations of the dutch designer Piet Hein Eek (I'm not sure if I can post images of his work so I won't, but do google him up as he has really interesting and beautiful furniture), so I decided to make an armchair and a corner sectional in his style.

This is just the chair as I have started only 1 week ago, but if you vote for this I will post a future instruct-able with the whole patio set (I hope enticing readers is ok).

Step 1: Tools

  • Table saw - this is extremely important as there will be a lot of adjustments need to be made to the planks and those are longitudinal cuts. Of course you can use a regular saw but obviously would make the project longer and your person more tired.
  • Miter saw - Optional but really helpful to speed up the process.
  • Some type of sander. I used a Makita finishing sander and really performed admirably. I post a link to this as I know how hard was for me to decide to pick something up. Is not an affiliate link.
  • Compact driver/drill.
  • Hand saw (for few cuts around the legs)
  • Ruler
  • Pen
  • Dust mask - Use this as the dust from all those cuts and sands is really dangerous for your health.
  • Safety glasses - NOT optional as few cuts might throw splinters in your eyes.
  • Carpenter speed square
  • Rubber gloves for painting bits
  • Brushes

Step 2: Materials

  • 8" deck screws
  • Wood stain / paint. At your choosing; If you want exactly the colors on my chair , I have posted exact images with the paint cans.
  • Wood finish / protection coating. List all of this because is not mandatory to use what I did. In this project I used Acrylic Wood Shield and Shellac.
  • Carpenter's glue.
  • Scrap wood . I can't tell you exactly how much . I used 3 palettes and few more wood from a dismantled playground. I would say 6 large palettes should be enough.
  • 2x2x8 Treated wood 10 pieces.
  • 2 pieces 2x4x8
  • Sand paper. See the image for the exact one I've used.

Back door (optional):

  • Ikea cabinet door hinges. Optional only if you want to use the storage space inside the chair. If not, you can just nail the back. The link is for something similar with what I have used. Can't find the exact ones that I have but they should be good.
  • 1" Wood screws.
  • 5/16" (or adjust the size for the thickness of your planks) wood dowels.

Step 3: The Frame

  • Cut the 2x2 to the following sizes:
    1. 8x30" - vertical pieces VP
    2. 8x32" - longitudinal pieces LP
    3. 5x26" -wideness pieces WP
    4. 8x5" - arm rest width ARW
    5. 2x19" - seat deepness SD
    6. 4x8" - leg width LW
  • Cut the 2x4 to the following sizes:
    1. 1x26" seat wideness rear - SWR
    2. 2x32" longitudinal LGW
  • Draw a longitudinal line going trough the middle of the LGW , dividing it in 2 areas with a thickness of 2" (see second picture) and align it with a point situated 45 cm from the base of a VP (sorry I tend to switch to cm and inches as is more convenient).
  • To fasten the pieces use carpenter's glue, 2 gun nails and an 8" screw. Drill a small whole before inserting the 8" screw as it might reap the wood.
  • Use 2 of the structures from image 2 and the WP to create the base of the frame. Best get someone to help you here.

Step 4: Preparing for the Cargo Hold

This step is optional and is required only if you are doing the back door with ikea hinges.

I add it here as it corrects a mistake in planning; normally I should have enforced the back vertical pieces with 2x4s before starting to cover the whole skeleton. The problem is that the hinges would have no support so I had to widen the area in order to be able to insert them. The picture should explain the problem better than I do.

Just cut 2 2x4 pieces that fit the space and fasten them with deck screws and carpenter glue.

Step 5: The Seat

Unfortunately I have completely forgotten to take pictures with the seat framing. I drew a pic though:)

To cut the back support, use the miter saw setup at a 30 degrees angle. See the last image of this section for the shape.

Step 6: Fun Time

This is the part that I was really waiting for while building the frame: playing with shapes and colors. I can't give exact instructions here as it all depends on what type of wood you use. Before going further check the quality of your palettes. I've posted a link (at the bottom of the section) with some info about choosing and dismantling the pallets. Make sure to follow all safety instructions as some pallets might present hazards.

I have followed only the safety part as I have my own way to take them quickly apart. Basically use a hand saw to cut the edges then hammer them from behind to loosen the nails. You loose some material but the speed is more than making up for that.

In a nutshell the process of preparing the planks for coverage:

  • dismantle the pallet, take nails out from them, cut an edge to make sure you have a square angle on one of the tips (this is due to the fact that my end is not always straigth and the measurement might be faulted).
  • measure and cut the plank . For the vertical ones I used a ruler to get them at 30" but for the rest of them was simply trying to match them against the frame.
  • sand them. Here you can play with how rough you want your surface to be. I did not sand few pieces all the way to the wood grain as I found the surface good enough and I wanted the nice texture. Experiment and see what you like.
  • apply the acrylic water shield, shellac / wood paint, acrylic water shield again. Nail the planks to the frame.
  • you can vary the wideness of the planks (use the table saw for longitudinal cuts) or you can make them all the same size.
  • make sure you sand the corner for the planks located in the seating area, like arm rest, back support. It would look more inviting to seat.
  • for the triangular bits on near the back holder use a piece of cardboard to determine and adjust the shape needed. After that transfer the shape on pieces of wood and cut them. Is easier and faster than trying to cut the wood directly. Theoretically the size can be calculated ; the problem is with all the imperfections of the wood and my lack of skill the calculations are not going to produce a good piece.
  • is useful to align them and check for color, shape harmony and mark the back to remember the order and color. You can also take a picture and use a program like Krita, Photoshop to color them. I personally used Procreate as I took all the pictures with an ipad. The pic also eliminate the need for order writing.
  • another tip is to use some artistic proven proportions when cutting the wood. For example if you to fill a space with 2 planks use the golden ratio or radical of 2, 3 to decide on the length (width) of those pieces. Is not hard to do and might give to your chair and overall harmonious look.

Palettes info link:

Step 7: Cargo Hold

This is the hard part. At least for me it was. This step is however completely optional as you can just nail the back or use some exterior hinges and a hook. I wanted the whole thing to be compact so I went with cabinet hinges.

I hope the images would say enough as is rather hard to explain. There is also a video with how to carve the holes for the hinges. I think there is a better way to do it but with my tools is all I could muster.


  • make sure that you practice first on a random piece of wood that has the same consistency as the one that you have designed to be the first plank in the door. See my images for the test bit.
  • take just a little material at a time when using the chisel, since if you take too much it can break the wood.
  • make sure you use a rubber mallet, not a regular hammer for chiseling the wood.
  • choose only the strongest pieces for the door or at least for the parts that are near the hinge.
  • make sure that all the planks are properly colored, cut before assembling them.
  • use a planer after assemblage to straighten the top or/and bottom edge of the door. Also make sure that the door can open with ease and will not touch the ground. The planer is again your best friend to take a bit off. Sand the whole thing again after using the planer.
  • use a smaller brush to repaint the planks bruised in the adjustment process.
  • use a protective under layer if you turn the painted part over for assembly. See pictures

Step 8: Final Thoughts and Adjustments

When moving the chair on the patio, I realized that I forgot to make the cargo hold water proof. I'll try to add that bit later.

Another thing that I got wrong is the height of the seat. My wife said that is not that comfortable for her and would require an ottoman. I designed it exclusively for my height, apparently.... I think that for a better result the height should be between 36-40 cm (I had it at 45).

I've posted a lot of pictures in the hope they may be more explanatory where the narrative isn't.

That's it. Really hope you enjoy it!

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