Build a Chaise Frame From Scratch




Disclaimer: This is the first sofa that I have ever built and have attempted to upholster. I am not a professional. I have done a lot of research and have built what I believe to be a quality piece of furniture. I hope this instructable inspires you to attempt your own build.

*** Update 01/02/2011 : I added some more upholstery pics. The springs are now tied and covered with burlap and foam. Tomorrow I will finish upholstering the chaise hopefully, except for sewing the cushions.

*** Update 12/20/2010 : I began to upholster the arm of the chaise today. I will update this instructable with the upholstery section when I am complete. Until then please see the pictures below. Remember this is my first time trying to upholster so be kind. 

One of the hardest parts of searching for furniture is finding exactly what you want. You may find the design that you like, but it has the wrong fabric. Or you find the right fabric but the wrong design.

If you do find what you want, it is completely out of your price range. The solution is for you to build it yourself. I have built a sectional from scratch. I consists of two end Chaise Lounges and a middle sofa with no arms.

These are the instructions to build the chaise that will attach to the sectional. I will post the sofa section later.

I will soon post my upholstery instructable for this sectional soon.

Dimensions: 3 ft. (L) X 5 ft. (W)

Total Cost: about $100 - this cost can be reduced dramatically if you use lower quality material such as construction plywood or MDF and pine wood stock. I chose to use better material so that this furniture will last against my children.

     36 linear feet of 1" X 2 1/2" wood stock (I used Poplar)
     18 linear feet of 1" X 1 1/2" wood stock (Poplar again)
     1 - 4' X 8' sheets of 3/4" plywood (I usedcabinet grade Birch Plywood)
     Wood Glue
     Pocket Screws

     Tablesaw - ( I have a craftsman 10" )
     Jigsaw - (Only if you are going to make curved arms)
     Orbital sander - (Only if you are going to make curved arms)
     Miter Saw (Chop saw)
     Measuring tape
     Clamps (Really helps when you are working by yourself)
     Pocket Hole Jig ( or your own preferred joinery)
     Rafter Sqaure (triangle)
     Coping Saw

Cut List:

Part Name     |     Quantity     |     Stock Size     |     Stock Length
C -1                           4                        1" X 2 1/2"             23 1/4"
C -2                           1                        1" X 2 1/2"             47 1/2"
C -3                           4                        1" X 2 1/2"             34 1/2"
C -4                           2                        1" X 2 1/2"             29 1/2"
C -5                           1                        1" X 2 1/2"             27"
C -6                           1                        1" X 2 1/2"             22
C -7                           6                        1" X 1 1/2"             34 1/2"
C -8                           1                        1" X 2 1/2"             21 1/4"
C -9                           1                        1" X 2 1/2"             10"

Plywood cutlist 3/4" - 4' X 8' sheet
Part Name     |     Quantity     |     Stock Dimension (W)     |     Stock Dimension (H)
C -a                            1                                  30"                                            9"                      
C -b                            1                                  23 1/4"                                     9"
C -c                            1                                  59 1/4"                                      9"
C -d                            2                                  27"                                            12"
C -e                            1                                  18"                                            12"
C -f                              1                                  28 1/2"                                      5"


Step 1: Design

The first thing that I need to do was look for the right design. I looked thoughout the internet and at stores to determine what I wanted. Once I got the right design, I determined the overall dimensions of the sofa. The wall that it will go on is 12' wide. I wanted it to stretch the whole length of the wall to provide the most seating possible.

I drew out the design and checked with the wife for feedback. She approved....LOL.

I drew out each section of the sofa and the individual pieces to get a better look at what I will be building.

Step 2: Build Chaise Arm

Parts needed:
Part Name     |     Quantity     |     Purpose
C - 3                            4                         Pieces of poplar for the arm rails
C - 7                            6                         Pieces of poplar for the arm rails
C - d                            2                         Arm Face

I pocketed holed all the ends of the rails.

*** Note : Use glue where ever wood touches wood. You will be thankfull you did, trust me.


I first drew the arm face design on a 27"(H) X 12"(W) piece of plywood. I then cut out the piece with a jigsaw. When cutting out the design, cut about an 1/8" away from the line of the design. You will refine this line with the orbital sander. I used 80 grit sandpaper and I sanded it to the line to get the exact shape that I was looking for.

I then placed the finished arm face on the other plywood to get an identical arm for the rear facing arm face.

Step 3: Build Deck of Chaise

Parts needed:
Part Name     |     Quantity     |     Purpose
C - b                            1                        Outside side deck panel that attaches to outside profile
                                                               of arm
C - a                            1                        Front deck panel that attaches to Outside deck 
                                                               and Inside deck panel
C - c                            1                        Inside deck panel that attaches to Front deck panel and
                                                               rear horizontal lower support
C - f                             1                        Deck center support brace
C - 1                            2                        One attaches to Outside deck panel and the other is
                                                               the rear horizontal lower support
C - 5                            1                        Attaches to the Front deck panel
C - 2                            1                        Attaches to the Inside Deck panel
C - 9                            1                       

Once the arm is built, you can begin to build the deck of the Chaise.

First attach the Side Chaise rail to the front of the arm face. Then attach the stinger board to the inside of the Side Chaise rail. Anywhere that wood touches wood there is glue.

Attach the front Chaise rail face to the sides and attach the side Chaise rail to the front. You are basically just building a box.

Attached the rear rail ( Part C - 1 - 1" X 2 1/2" X 23 1/4") to the Side Chaise rail and the rear face of the chaise arm.

Step 4: Build Back Support

Parts needed:
Part Name     |     Quantity     |     Purpose
C - e                             1                      Inner back support panel
C - 1                             2                      Lower back support rail and rear deck support rail 
C - 4                             2                      Rear horizontal upper support rail and Rear Top
                                                              support rail
C - 6                             1                      Back support vertical rail
Extra Piece cut out from the arm panel that I mentioned earlier

Back support is 18" high and 12" wide. The top edge is 2 1/2" wide and is diagonally cut to the bottom edge of the plywood piece to get the right angle. Attach to rear of the chaise side rail.

Attach the bottom rail of back support (C-1) to the Inner back support panel (C-e) not the Inner deck panel. Attach the other side to the arm. This is where the back fabric will attach to. Also it sits partially on top of C - 2.

Attach the Rear deck support rail (C-1) to the Inside deck panel 6" from rear and the top of the stock is 7" above the bottom. This is where the deck fabric will attach to.

I used a clamp on the outside of the arm and the Back support panel to maintain the the 36" distance. I then placed the Rear Horizontal Upper support rail (C-4) on the inside of the back support panel 3/4" down and pressed it against back of arm. I traced the curve of the arm to get a snug fit. I cut this out with a jigsaw.

I also added a vertical support rail against the back support panel (Piece not shown). It is 21 1/4" out of 1" X 2 1/2" stock.

I installed the Top Support Rail (C-4) to the Back support panel, the rear horizontal upper support rail and the arm. Dont worry that this doesnt connect to the arm, we want a gap so that the foam and fabric will fit in between the arm and the back support.

Place part C - 6 against the back support horizontal rails and the Top support rail. Use a rafter square to transfer the angle to the board. Use the miter saw to cut. Mine was about 28 degrees.

You will need to back cut the top of Part C-6 about an 1" inorder for it to fit snug. Install bottom of part about an 1 1/2" away from arm. You may want to add more space depending on the thickness of foam that you plan on using.

Take the extra piece left over from cutting out the arm and with a coping saw back cut the inside curve of the piece. You may want to remove a little bit more off the top length depending on the thickness of the foam you use. I used 2" foam and it was an extremely tight fit.

All done... you are ready for upholstery.


Step 5: Upholstering the Arm

Full upholstery steps Coming soon....

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    61 Discussions


    Reply 2 years ago

    The springs had a 4" diameter and were about 18" long, uncompressed


    Reply 1 year ago

    Where did you purchase the springs?


    8 years ago on Step 2

    just my $.02....the pieces of poplar at the top of the arm should be turned 90 degress so that is someone puts a lot of pressure there, it will be more supportive. I have seen several built like this that snap because someone used the arm to push themselves up.

    3 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    I agree, but to date, after 5 1/2 years it is still solid. My 4 kids actually sit and jump off those arms all the time, even though I yell at them not to. So far it is still solid. My next couch will definitely have an additional piece set at 90 degrees below that horizontal piece to add support.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the info... Maybe on the Chaise that I havent upholster yet I can put a vertical piece under the horizontal piece for the added support.


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 2

    Hello. Do you plan to add pictures of the finished, upholstered product? I hope you do, so far, it looks great.


    3 years ago

    hey great ible. I really could have used this when I started on my diy couch two summers ago.

    I knew someone would have a great instrucable for a couch but I couldn't find it lol. im working on an ible for my couch as well. its a very different design that is based on a telescopic idea to create the seating area of a sectional but only need the floor space of a traditional couch.

    if I ever get my ible wrote I will send you a link on here. also get to hit tje I made it button lol. keep up the good work.

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    I would definitely like to see how your couch came out.


    3 years ago

    Great instructable!! How has it held up against your kids over the years?

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    It has held up to 4 kids and still going strong. Aside from wear and tear on the fabric, it is been a solid design to date, after 5 1/2 years.


    3 years ago

    Nice craft! would seriously follow instructions to my advantage. thanks


    3 years ago on Introduction

    Where is the rest of this I would love to see the completed works and the rest of the instruction to complete it. The frame is just perfect.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Wow! Big respect, I want to do my sofa too.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Great project! My wife took it upon herself to re-do an old "hide-a-bed" we have had for years (it has sentimental value to our oldest son. Probably go with him when he moves out - eventually!). Wish we had seen your work and the advice others have given you! This may inspire another rebuild (with a few modifications!).


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I would LOVE to see the final pictures of this. It's AWESOME!!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    this is amazing, thanks for posting. I am designing a couch virtually for a college class. This is inspiring me to make a real one at some point down the road.