The concept of this chair came about the desire to create a chair that was beautiful, functional and left little waste. The entire chair was made from 1 piece of Bamboo plywood. (Well the initial design was for that, however after the chair had been made I realized it needed a stabilizer bar and the leg to be a bit thicker). As well, i felt that there would be a way to design and build a chair that over all was not too expensive and could still be eco-friendly.
1 sheet of 1/4" bamboo plywood 4'x8'
2 sheets of 3/4 particle Board 4'x8'
1 sheet of semi-rigid material to skin the top of the form
600 wine corks
5- Crown Bolt 1/4-20 x 13mm Zinc-Plated Steel Type-A Insert Nuts
5- Crown Bolt 1/4-20 x 70mm Coarse Steel Hex Drive Connecting Bolt
7- 8 x 1-1/4 HighPoint Round Washer Head Screws
AMF Safecoat Safe Seal or other eco-friendly clear sealer
Band saw or other method to cut wine corks in half
Electric sander or hand sander with assortment of grits
An assortment of clamps
Nail gun w/ 2" nails
Screw gun with screw bits and and 1/4" drill bit
CNC machine or a hand router and patience
Vacuum form with large enough bag to fit chair and form
Optional heat blanket if your shop gets cold at night
Step 1: The Plan
I have attached the full AutoCad files for the shape of the chair and the CNC machine. I designed the shape of the chair to the human body to maximize comfort. One could alter the shape of the chair and update the CNC file as needed. The CNC file will cutout all the pieces needed to build the form for the chair. It might seem as though the form costs a lot of money, however if built properly it can be used over and over to re-produce this chair.
Step 2: The Form
Once all the pieces are cut out you can start assembly. This process is the easy part. As you start to put the pieces together, just remember that the more glue and nails you use the better, as the form will be under great pressure and you do not want the form to implode and destroy itself and the bamboo.
After building the form, cut down the semi-rigid sheeting and attach to the top of the form. This will help to prevent the bamboo from warping in between the ribbing.
*Note- When moving the form, find a friend to help you. It is very heavy.
Step 3: The Chair
Take your 4'x8' sheet of 1/4" Bamboo plywood and cut it in half and then cut off 9" (this will be used for the leg of the chair. Once you have your Bamboo cut down, apply a fair amount of wood glue to one side and spread around to ensure there are no spots without glue. Take the second half and gently lay it on top having the glue in between the two pieces of wood. Take some time to press down on the Bamboo and try to squeeze out excess glue, otherwise you will have a large mess inside the vacuum bag. Get help from someone and set the form inside the vacuum bag. Now lay the Bamboo on top of the form, seal the bag and slowly start to pull the air out.
**NOTE** You might have to release the pressure and adjust the Bamboo on the form if it moves up or down the form too much. There should be no over hang of material on the form, this will help to ensure the Bamboo is on the form correctly.
Once you have the Bamboo in the desired location on the form and all of the air has been pulled out, allow the glue to dry. This will vary depending on the temperature of your shop. I used a heat blanket and laid in top of the form to help speed up drying time since the shop gets cold at night.
After the glue has dried (I waited 24 hours), release the pressure an the bag and pull your Bamboo out. The bamboo will un-flex a bit when you pull it out, do not worry. You now have the main portion of the chair finished.
We can now move onto the underside portion of the chair!
Get the two smaller pieces of Bamboo that you cut earlier, ( I found an extra piece of dark bamboo plywood and cut 3 pieces to match the lighter colored Bamboo I already cut, I was worried about strength), and glue the pieces together, clamp and let dry. Once it is dry, cut the angles needed on a table saw. You will be able to find this on the CAD drawing. Once you have cut the angles, drill out and insert the 1/4" inset nuts evenly on the top of the leg. Find the correct location placement of the leg, again using the CAD drawing and pre-drill matching holes for the bolts. Insert the bolts and tighten down.
Moving onto the support beam. This was not originally in my plans, however after laying in the chair I realized there was too much flex in the chair and I was worried about applying too much stress to the connection of the leg and chair. With more of the dark Bamboo, I cut 6 strip that were 1" x 48" and glued them together the same way I glued the leg together. Now taking the CAD drawing again or resting the support along the edge of the chair, trace the angles and cut. Turn the chair upside down and set the support in the middle of the chair and make sure that the support will be level when the chair is turn back over. Mark the connection spots on the chair and leg, remove the support and pre-drill the leg and chair.
*NOTE* Think about the angle of the support when you are pre-drilling, so that the screws will go into the support straight. You will be able to counter sink the screws in the leg but not in the chair. Don't worry, you will be able to cover these screws up with the corks.
Once you have the support screwed into place, use two more screws in the dip of the chair that touches the support.
Go to town sanding everything to your desired finish.
You have now finished the construction of the chair! Take a breath.
Step 4: The Corks
As you can see in the photo below, this can get interesting. PLEASE BE SAFE WHILE PERFORMING THIS STEP.
Gather your 600 wine corks. I was able to get a local winery to donate the corks so that all of the corks matched. If you are using random corks, make sure they are all the same size. This will help make it easier when cutting them and gluing them to the chair.
I set up a jig on a band saw that would allow me to push the corks through one at a time. Each band saw will be different to I will explain how I did it for this one. I took two pieces of wood and set them just far enough apart to allow a line of corks to rest in between. Get a third piece of wood and cut it so that it will cover the space between and enough to nail to the first two pieces of wood. once the top piece is cut, cut it about 2" from one side. Nail the pieces together leaving a gap on the front side, this will allow you to slide it onto the band saw. Now nail the 2" piece to the front side so that there is just enough room for the blade to pass though without hitting the wood top. Set up your guide on one side and clamp the jig to it. Check to make sure the jig is centered with the blade. Now, one by one start pushing corks into the jig, there should be enough room that the cork you are inserting is pushing the cork in front of it through the blade. If there is not enough room on your band saw table, use a push stick. Repeat this until you have cut all 600 corks and you now have 1200 halves. it helps to have a box on the floor to catch the cut pieces.
At this stage I would say grab a bottle of wine, make some tea or whatever your drink of choice is because it is just going to be you, the chair, corks and wood glue for a few hours.
Start out by laying out the corks in the dip of the chair, this will make it easy as you work your way towards the edge. I was able to fit 11 corks wide. Make sure the first couple of lines are even and squared up with the edge of the chair, you don't want to have corks running off the edge as you work your way up. Once you feel you have a good line to start with, start gluing away. When you reach the spot that the chair attaches to the support and the screws are sticking up a bit, carve out a bit of the inside of the cork before gluing it down. keep doing this until you have the same spacing on the sides as the top and bottom. Allow the glue to dry before applying the finish coat.
Once everything is dry, start to apply the finish to the entire chair. I used two coats on the wood and three coats on the wine corks.
You have now created a Bamboo Chaise Lounge Chair. Sit back, relax and enjoy some wine in your new chair!
Step 5: Eye Candy
This is just an assortment of photos of the chair in different settings and angles.