Armchair Upcycled From Pallets




About: Hi, I'm Mathieu, a maker from france in the Paris area. Love creation or transformation of material and also sharing my knowledges. I'm also the Fab Manager of Fablab Descartes in Champs-sur-Marne which give...

In this instructables, I'll present you an armchair totally upcycled from pallets (except screw of course).

First of all, please be indulgent, my english is not perfect but I do my best to be clear and precise.

This design could works for outside/inside place. The only thing to do to switch between these two possibilities is to protect the armchair form humidity.

For this armchair, you'll need approximately 2 or 3 pallets depending on the quality of wood and sizes of them.

The armchair is designed to be realized with the minimum tools (see picture and below) :

- Jigsaw (you can use a classic saw but it will be really more confortable with a jigsaw)

- Drill / Screwdriver

- Approximately 50 wood screw

- File for adjustments

- Sanding paper (if you get a sander it will be easier too)

( - I don't have oscillating tool but if you've got one, it will be usefull to dissassemble the pallets)

Last precision : before screwing anything remember to drill a hole before engaging the screw. To choose your drill diameter, refer to your screw size. As you can see on the picture, choose a drill which is perfectly hidden by your screw (see picture). A drill not too big or the screw will not fastened the parts ; and not too small or the screw will destroy the parts.

Hope you'll enjoy the description and of course, don't hesitate to ask for details ;)

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Step 1: First of All ... Disassembling Pallets

Okay, it's the most disgusting part of work but you can't work on it without this step. Don't panic with the pictures, I get more pallets than necessary for this job ;)

First advice : do not try to disassemble each part of pallets. Wood use on pallets is not a beautiful and unbreakable oak but probably fir. So trying to disassemble them with crowbar or something like that because it will probably end with cracks on wood and make it unusable.

Second advice : As I told you before, the Oscillating Tool could be your friend on this step to cut nails and dissassemble the pallets !

The best way to collect it is cutting. You can use jigsaw or just a saw for the most courageous.

This way you'll get the best wood ... without nails or cracks

If you can sand all the faces of parts collected, you can do it now !

Step 2: Choose Wood for Differents Parts

Separate the good looking parts from the ones that looks like more difficult to make it more attractive. The first ones will be used for the seat, backrest and armrest and the second ones for structure.

If you're lucky and get only good looking parts (or unlucky with only horrible wood ... sorry) you can also sort them by size.

The wider will be used for structure (feet and backrest structure) and others for visibles parts.

for the next steps you'll need :

- 8 x 70cm long and 9cm large (minimum) parts for structure

- 15 x 70cm long and 7cm large parts for visibles parts

Step 3: Let's Talk Seriously ... the BACKREST ! (part 1)

Select 5 good looking parts (and/or 7cm wide ones) and 2 robust ones (9cm wide).

For my design, I decided to make a confortable, round and high backrest.

Depending on the dimensions of your pallets wood, it could be interesting to respect the design of this chair to cut in long at 7cm wide your best parts. That way you could have a symmetric backrest using 5 parts like me (5x7cm = 35cm ... dimension for the lower side of the backrest)

Put these 5 parts with a slight angle between them (1cm space for 70cm long parts) on a table.

Next, put one of the wider part perpendicularly to the ones on your table at 20cm from the lower extremity. This part will be used to secure the backrest AND to fasten the armrest (that's why I use a space of 20cm to get the armrest at their best position).

Now locate the position of this part with your pencil by drawing a line on the 5 parts under the backrest structure part (do not forget to draw a cross just above the line to remember on which side of the line you must fasten this part later).

Also locate the middle of the gap between the 5 parts on the structure part.

Draw perfect perpendicular line from the location made just before with a set square.

On these lines mark the following measurement :

- On the two centered lines draw a mark at 4cm from the edge

- On the two lines on each sides of the centered lines draw a mark at 2cm from the edge

- The two extreme lines don't need mark because the point is on the edge

Connect these dots with lines to draw the "curve" of the backrest

Now you can cut this structure part with a jigsaw.

Advice : You'll need two part like this and my proverb is "measure once, cut twice", so i suggest to cut the two parts at the same time. You can use a jigsaw to do this.

(The second part can be positioned at approximately 15/18cm above the part used for armrest)

Congratulation, you've made the most difficult part of the Instructables ;)

Please wait before screwing all of these parts !

Step 4: The BACKREST ! (part 2)

Okay, let's go for the half-lap/half-wood assembly.

For this assembly, you'll need 2 other robust parts (the wider is the better).

First step is to precisely mark the position on these vertical structure parts (they will be used to strengthened the structure and fasten the seat). Distance between these two parts needs to be about 25cm maximum and you'll need 15cm under the backrest (Have margin for this measurement is better). You will also need 5cm over the highest horizontal structure part.

Okay they're positioned ? Good ... mark all these 4 parts in contact by drawing lines of each edges of parts on the other in contact. This will really really help you for the assembly.

Measure the distance available between the external edge of the horizontal structure part and the back of the backrest. Divided it by 2 (see second picture) and draw the cutting area (it might be a rectangle with a dimension in large corresponding to the thickness of your wood and in long the half of the space measure before) to make the assembly like the picture (Sorry, I've lost my picture at this time so I search on internet and find the picture on the following website :

Draw the eight cut line (2 by assembly ... 4 assembly --> 8 cutting operation) using the same method and cut it using a jigsaw and a wood file or your jigsaw to make a clean snick. Remember that this assembly will be totally hidden, so be indulgent with your work ;)

You normally get the assembly like pictures present on this step.

You can redesign the higher horizontal part by smoothing angle. Personnaly, I choose to round (like you can see on pictures) the extremity but you can obviously adapt the design with your favorite shape !

Now you can secure the assembly by screwing these part from the back using an enough long screw like on the fourth picture ... of course ! and screwing the good looking part of the backrest on the structure.

Congratulations, you've done the entire backrest !

Step 5: The Seat ...

For this step you'll need :

- 10 x 3/4 cm wide parts and minimum 45cm long (to get them you need to cut existing parts in 2 on the long side ... Use a jigsaw or be patient)

- 2 x 7cm wide minimum and 55cm long parts for structure

With this bill of material, position the structures parts perpendicularly to the table and adjust the distance between them using the vertical structure parts of the backrest. All these parts will be screwed together, so they need to be adjust. For more details, you can check the first picture.

When you get the right distance, you can screw the first 3/4cm wide part on them from 15cm of the edge (see picture 2). Now adjust the parallelism of the two structure parts and perpendicularism of these two parts with the transversal one.

Now you can screw another 3/4cm wide part using one other part to get a constant gap between all the seat part (see pictures 3 and 4).

For my design I decided to round (again) the extremity of the seat, at this step you can also modified the design to the one you prefer. To follow mine, you can cut/round the extremity of the structure parts with circle of 4cm radius.

Be careful with the depth of your seat. A common distance is 45cm (approximately). If you get this too long, it will "crush" the back of your knees and generate discomfort if you remain seated for a long time.

Step 6: Connection of Backrest and Seat

Here we're going to adjust the angle between the backrest and seat. It's important to know that the more angle you set, the more confortable the seat will be but it will be also more difficult to get out of it.

1/ Position the two parts (backrest and seat)

The seat must be almost in contact with the backrest to keep the armrest at his best position later. (check in the picture for more details)

2/ Secure them with clamps (or 1 screw/nail on each side)

3/ Adjust the angle between them (approximately 8/10cm of space for 50cm long distance)

You can use the method I used (third photo). This will help you to slilghty adjust the angle.

4/ When you get the correct angle, screw each part with, at least, 4 screw by part.

An outcome is now taking shape ;)

Step 7: Now ... the Feet

To guarantee to robustness of this armchair, I suggest to cross the feet like you can see on these pictures.

The part starting from the back of the seat need to be fastened on the vertical part of backrest structure. The other one (starting next to the knees) will be fastened on the seat structure and the other foot like you can see on pictures.

For the moment keep these parts as long as you can because you're going to cut them after.

One good thing to get it more confortable is to adjust a slight angle for the seat. The end of the seat (knees's place) could be higher by 4 cm than the connection between backrest and seat. This angle provide a more confortable seat.

To definitely measure and secure this angle :

1/ Measure the distance from the connexion of backrest and seat and to the simulated ground and put a mark at 30cm on the feet (picture 4)

2/ Measure the distance from the front of the seat and the simulated ground and put a mark at 34cm on the feet (picture 5)

3/ Draw a line connecting these 2 points and cut the feet following this line

Step 8: Now You've Got a Chair ... We're Going to Add Style !

1/ Round top of backrest :

As you can see on the first 2 pictures, you can use common object to draw a slight curve but if you like squared backrest, you can keep the basic raw design !

So draw the design you like and cut the 5 parts following this line

2/ Progressiv design of seat (pictures 3 and 4)

Draw a line from the beggining of the backrest with an angle that can keep at least 45cm between the two future armrest (if you want them). 45cm is a good dimension to keep enough space in large for your legs. Then I think you might know the next step ... Cut it ;)

3/ Armrest (pictures 5 and 6)

Add a wood part (approximately 45cm long) and fastened it to the support created with the backrest structure (you know we keep this part long enough to be able to install the armrest ... It's now time to do it ;))

Add a support for this armrest using another part connected to the armrest and one part of the seat.

4/ Global design

I decided to keep a raw style for my armchair but feel free to paint it, add wood varnish or stuff like that. And off course remember that if you want to put this armchair outside to protect it from rain, humidity and sun.

Step 9: The End ...

Thank you very much and I hope you've appreciate this Instructables.

I'm feeling very excited to see your productions ;)

Good bye and see you soon !

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    21 Discussions


    3 years ago

    where can I find these plans in standard measurements with all the angles. Thanks Adley Firmin


    3 years ago

    BEWARE Some pallets have been treated, and may contain harmful chemicals. I have known someone who had made a chair, from "scrap" pallet wood, they ended up with a rash on the back of their legs. (A lot of "Sea Container" produce could of been fumigated, for transit between nations).


    3 years ago

    What is a Oscillating Tool and how is it used to remove nails / staples ( probally ) put in with a air gun to remove them?

    1 reply

    3 years ago

    Just a thought, but you might consider putting rounded slats on the bottom and making this a rocking chair for us old farts that need a way to look up and down, up and down, up and down.... without falling over. Semper Fi


    3 years ago

    This is very nice, thanks for sharing, it will go into my honey-do list. Pallets are great when you can get the good ones but lets not forget the construction sights. Make nice with the guys and they usually could care less if you went thru their scrap wood pile. Some of their scrap is as good as new. Semper Fi


    3 years ago

    Maybe your English is not perfect but it is perfectly understandable. I am so happy it did not prevent you from contributing. I think I have all the tools I need, now I just need pallets! and maybe an assistant.


    3 years ago

    Always make sure you are using the safe, non-chemically treated pallets if it is going to be in your home (you can find info online about the codes marked on pallets that let you know what kind they are).. Otherwise, this is a beautifully written 'ible. Not only is it detailed, but you also provide encouragement to those whose skills might not be the best (like me). Thanks for posting.

    Owl Trained ED Docbarkerka

    Reply 3 years ago

    The scraps or the chair? Looks pretty comfortable to me... Comments are supposed to be constructive or positive.


    3 years ago

    Try a place called Ollie's, a discount store with "stuff." Buck apiece and very smooth. And yeah, no chemical stains as these appear to be very new.


    3 years ago

    Great design, but the pallets I find around here (central South Carolina. US) are usually made of rather rough wood. Unless you have way too much time on your hands sanding isn't a good option -- better to buy wood or salvage from another source. I realize, however, that part of the "fun" is recycling the pallet. A belt sander will work best. Sand the upper surface before taking the pallet apart so everything stays in place, then as the poster suggests, CUT the end boards off close instead of trying to pull the nails/pry boards apart to reduce splitting. If the wood is really dry and brittle (cracks easily), DRILL holes for screws or nails just a little smaller than the screw or nail. You may need to countersink screw heads. Don't need a fancy countersink bit, just drill the small hole first then use a bit the size of the screw head and drill a shallow hole. The smaller hole will guide the larger bit to center.


    3 years ago

    Great, very clear, ible!! What a beautiful chair, thank so much for sharing!!


    3 years ago

    Really nice and clear instructions! Very well done. I love the upcycling idea.

    My only possible issue is I think the arms are easily going to come loose from where they are attached to the seat.


    3 years ago

    Great job ! This upcycling from pallets is truly incredible !
    Voted ;)

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    thanks loann for your comment AND advice ;)


    3 years ago

    You chair turned out looking great! Very nice work, and all from some old pallets too. Impressive! :)