Weave Chair Seats With Paracord

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Introduction: Weave Chair Seats With Paracord

It's fairly easy to find old wooden chairs with broken out seat bottoms. Often the chair frame is solid, but no one i

s interested in reweaving the rush bottom. When I found 5 old chairs in the rafters of a barn I decided to hack them with paracord! This is a fun project which will add a pop of color to your home. Here's how.

Step 1: Why Paracord?

Paracord is short for parachute cord which was it's original use. It's now available in a multitude of colors and has a million uses. Comprised of multiple nylon cords it's amazingly strong, very durable, and easy to clean. Cost is not prohibitive either as repairing a chair costs approximately $25. Paracord woven chairs wear well and will look great for a long time.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parachute_cord

Materials:

Paracord - 275 feet depending on chair measurements

I'm using 550 paracord but smaller cord will work too.

Flat bar for weaving cord

Electrical tape

Sand paper

Polyurethane, chalk paint or other wood finish

Step 2: Preparing Your Chair

Your first step is cutting out the nasty seat bottoms which is pretty easy. Sand your chair as needed to remove old finish and any rough spots. Apply polyurethane as I did on the chair above or use paint to add more color. Chalk paint is a great option for old wood as it requires less prep and bonds well (blue chair).

Step 3: Planning the Weave

The only tricky part of this project is spacing the weave pattern evenly although it's pretty easy. Most chairs will be similar in size, however variations will affect paracord usage. Start by measuring all four sides of your chair. The yellow & black chair measured 10.5" on each side, 13" front and 11" back and required 110 ft of yellow cord and 165 ft of black cord. This is a good estimate for similar sized chairs. You can always add more cord on the bottom side so it's not critical to be exact.

First....

First find out how many turns you'll be making on each side. In essence of time, I suggest wrapping around and around the entire length of the back dowel, front dowel and one side to get an accurate count of turns. I tried to estimate this by wrapping a few inches and then multiplying by the length (pic 2). It didn't work very well. It's worth the time to quickly wrap each side and get a good count. Try to wrap evenly and snuggly for best results.

Second....

Lay out the "front-to-back" pattern (yellow). Using the number of turns on the front and back dowels, you need to (a) account for width difference between front and back and (b) determine how many groups of 4 cords you will make.

Account for width difference. Since the front is wider you must add more turns on its left and right sides so the center of the pattern will run straight from back to front. Subtract the number of turns across the back dowel from those on the front dowel to find the difference between them. Divide this difference by 2. This is the number of extra turns you need to make up on the left and right side of the front dowel so the center will be straight.

  • Turns (front) - Turns (back) = Extra Turns to be made on Front
  • Extra Turns / 2 = Extra Turns on Left and Right sides of front dowel

Example: On this yellow chair the front had 85 turns and the back 69 turns so I needed to account for a 16 turn difference. Dividing by 2 meant 8 extra turns on each side of the front were needed for the center to be straight.

  • 85 - 69 = 16 more turns on the front than back
  • 16 / 2 = 8 extra turns on left side of front and 8 on right side of front.

Look closely at the first picture and compare the front and back patterns on each side. To make up 8 turns I either added extra turns in the front or deleted turns across the back. Note along the back there are no "spacer" turns between the cords in the first 2 groups of 4 long strands. Deleting these 6 turns and adding 2 extras in the front got my long strands running perpendicular to the front & back dowels. If the front and back of your chair are the same length, i.e. the seat is a square, then you can obviously skip this part.

Determine the number of 4 strand groups. This should be done on paper using the turn counts you've already established. See pic 3. I typically start with 2 "spacers" turns on the front and 1 in the back and then see how it turns out. The number of spacer wraps at the beginning and end is where you'll want to place extra turns so your pattern is even. Don't forget to include the extra turns on the front.

A turn out of place here or there is not going to be noticeable but try to avoid it. On my yellow chair I didn't realize I had made a spacer turn in the wrong place until I started writing this instructable. One of the extra turns should be all the way to the right, but it's hard to tell. Don't sweat little differences. A good life rule!

Last....

Planning out the pattern for the side-to-side weaving (black) is simpler since the side dowels are the same length. I typically don't put spacer turns on the sides so there are no gaps in the weave. Up to you. Use the turn count for the side dowel you've already established and divide it by 4. If you have extra turns then use them as spacers either at the front or back.

Grab some cord and let's get going!

Step 4: Let's Get to Weaving!

Grab 110 feet or more of paracord and bind it up so it's easy to handle. I have tried several ways of bundling the cord and find a rubber band works about as well as anything. I haven't tried rolling it into a ball like yarn but that might work too. It just needs to be gathered up so it's easy to pass while you keep the cord snug on the chair frame.

Tie your cord on the front dowel to get started. A clove hitch (pic 1) works well although the type of knot is not important. After cinching the clove hitch knot rotate it 180 to hide the crossing strand. The clove hitch starts you off with 2 turns in the front which is convenient when you are trying to add extra turns along the front. Leave a 12" pigtail so you can tie the other cord (black) to it when you start weaving side to side.

https://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Tie-A-Clove...

Step 5: The First Color Wrap

If you haven't noticed this is a 2-layer weave where you will be weaving an identical top and bottom layer. Normally you would only have one layer made by weaving the strands on the top and bottom together for your seat. I didn't attempt this because paracord doesn't stretch much and I was afraid it would be too tight to weave it at the end. As you'll find, it gets hard to pass the paracord in this 2-layer pattern as the weave gets tighter at the end. Weaving 2 layers requires more cord, but it's easier and faster to weave.

After tying your knot, the first pass (moving front to back) is on the bottom side. Passes on the bottom are made moving front to back. Passes on the top are made when moving back to front. Now simply wrap the pattern you've already worked out on paper. Do not wrap the cord super tight! Taunt is good enough. When you finish your passes tie it off and leave a 12" pigtail to use later.

Step 6: Weaving the Second Color

It is much faster to weave this seat if you use a bar, stick, wire or other long instrument to pass the cord. I found an 18" x 3/4" aluminum bar which worked great. Instead of drilling an "eye" for my needle I used electrical tape as a simple solution for attaching the cord to the bar (pic 4). This avoids passing a knot or double strands of cord as you weave.

Unless you enjoy pulling 165 feet of cord back and forth through your weave start with around 60 feet of paracord (or roughly 1/3 of what you estimate needing). When you run short of paracord tie on a new 60 foot strand so the knot will be on the bottom side of the seat. Here are a couple knot options.

https://www.instructables.com/id/Part-2-of-my-knot-...

https://www.instructables.com/id/Fisherman-Knot/

To begin make a clove hitch or other knot on the side dowel at the same corner where you started the first layer. Tie a second knot to the pigtail you left from the first layer to secure both layers. Alternatively you can tape or nail the paracord to the inside of the dowel and wrap over it. Either seems to work well. On this chair I forgot to leave a pigtail so I just taped it to the side dowel where it would be hidden.

Step 7: Weave Away

Now that you're tied on start weaving back and forth. Weave across the top and then weave back across the bottom layer. As you can see in pic 4 the bottom looks just like top. When you get to the end tie off your second layer to the pigtail from the first layer. And that's it!

Step 8: Enjoy Your New Chair(s)

I hope you found this instructable useful and that you will give this a try. Once you do a chair you won't need this guide any more as it's simple to learn the technique. A fun furniture hack with a big "Wow" factor. Your friends and family will be amazed at how those old busted chairs look now!

If you find this furniture hack worthy, please give me a vote in the contest. My son is interested in woodworking and I'd feel better if he was using a SawStop;) Looking forward to your comments and questions.

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First Prize in the
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Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2015

2 People Made This Project!

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76 Comments

0
robin5french
robin5french

Question 5 weeks ago on Step 7

This is one of the chairs, actually, a loveseat, that I am planning to re-seat with paracord. Shall I use the center piece as an end for two separate seats and patterns? Or somehow attempt to do one long section for the seat? I'm not at all sure I stated my questions clearly. Basically, do it as one seat or two?

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kentdvm
kentdvm

Reply 4 weeks ago

I don't think paracord left outside constantly would weather well due to UV, moisture, etc. It's nylon, but I don't think it would do as well polypropylene or other plastic. BevJG did an outdoor chair with polypropylene and it looked great. Her post is below with some pics. I think I'd do your seat in one section.

0
robin5french
robin5french

Question 5 weeks ago on Introduction

It seems like paracord would be great for outdoor furniture. Is that right? I have some rustic pieces I'm cleaning up and am wondering what material to use that I won't have to run outside and rescue my chairs every time it rains.

0
JAKELNER
JAKELNER

Question 4 months ago on Step 8

Will this work with Director's Chairs (when you only have two dowels)? Can you cross weave without the other two dowels and have a functional seat?

0
kentdvm
kentdvm

Answer 4 months ago

I think you could but I'd be concerned about the cords shifting and bunching towards the center with use. I'd think about a pattern of tied knots so that wouldn't happen.

0
rojo88477
rojo88477

Question 6 months ago

I have a metal chair that has a round ,had came need to replace what kind of cord that is strong I could use ,help thanks

0
kentdvm
kentdvm

Answer 6 months ago

For a woven chair seat you can use almost any rope and it would be strong enough once it's woven. I used paracord; others have used craft cord, polypropylene, etc. Lots of possibilities. If outdoors I'd use something weather resistant and fade resistant.

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MissJoJoMiles
MissJoJoMiles

6 months ago

These instructions are great and I can't wait to give this a go. Literally just stumbled across this website (never heard of it before) but I can tell it's going to be a favorite of mine. I'll add some photos of my outdoor round/bucket like seats (before and after pics of course) when they are complete. Very exciting. Now...how do I upload a profile photo??

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vducote
vducote

7 months ago

I used 2mm "Bonnie" craft cord, used in macremé. About 1/4th of the cost of Paracord at Hobby Lobby. It's a very small rocker for toddlers, so I think the much lower tensile strength will not be a problem. Came out great. Chair was mine as a child, then used by my kids as toddlers. Now redone to give to my granddaughter.

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kentdvm
kentdvm

Reply 7 months ago

Looks fantastic. I'll have to check out Bonnie cord. Certainly doesn't need to be as strong as Paracord. Great heritage in that little rocker!

0
vducote
vducote

Reply 7 months ago

Thanks for the comment. And especially thanks for the excellent instructions to do it.

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Dodie6
Dodie6

7 months ago

My first chair bottom! A small one for a grandchild. I had so much fun doing this, Thanks!

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kentdvm
kentdvm

Reply 7 months ago

Nice job! Looks fantastic!

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BevJG
BevJG

9 months ago

Hi

I have finished my first chair! Really pleased with it. I wrapped the back, front and side as you said but I still managed to get more wraps once I actually did the weaving but I think it worked out fine. I will use the count from the finished chair when I do the second one. I think it looks better than it did originally. Thanks for the instructions 😃😃

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0
nanookFAS
nanookFAS

Reply 8 months ago

I agree you improved that chair immensely! I am working on similar but mine has a few more curves. Did you use any adhesive to keep the paracord fastened to the chair frame? With the curves I have, it might be an issue with paracord sliding a bit. Did you have issues with cord sliding? It looks like you did not need to sand or repaint the chair frame. I need to repaint mine. I really admire your work on this project.

1
BevJG
BevJG

Reply 8 months ago

Hi, thanks for your comments. I didn’t use any adhesive, the weave itself, once there was a few lines of it on the chair, held it in place. I had to push it into place once a “4” section was completed. It was tricky threading all of the cord through the gaps but I tied it (with elastic bands) in three smaller bundles rather than one large one. I also used a small metal bar as my guider that I could bend slightly which made the weaving much easier towards the end. It was a flat fixing plate about 2mm thick - it got well bent as you can see from the photo. My chairs were metal as they are outdoor chairs and they both were repainted before I did the weave. I am about to do an indoor on and that needs sanding and repainting first.
I’d love to see your chair once you’ve done! Enjoy!

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nanookFAS
nanookFAS

Reply 7 months ago

Thank you for sharing your tips. I have 4 chairs so my first one will be where I learn the most!

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kentdvm
kentdvm

Reply 9 months ago

Beautiful work! I agree. I like the colors & weave better than original. Second chair will be a breeze. Thanks for sharing pics.

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lewisk8e
lewisk8e

Question 9 months ago on Introduction

This is such a waycool i dea even for a grandmudder like me. So, I have a sling that I need to replace on this swing. Would this work or not enough support in the middle?

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0
kentdvm
kentdvm

Answer 9 months ago

The 550 paracord is certainly strong enough as each strand is rated at 550lbs. It might be a little a little saggy but maybe not since the front-to-back distance isn't great. Personally I'd give it a shot. The paracord running front-to-back is plenty strong enough by itself even if the long side-to-side cords weren't adding any support. Obviously they will but the shorter cords should limit severe sagging. The chairs I did above have almost no give when you sit on them. Towards the end of weaving it gets harder to pass the cord due to the tightness of the weave which always happens when weaving. My best guess is your swing would give some which would probably make it pretty comfortable. Just keep it tight while you're weaving. Super interested in seeing how it turns out!