Intro: Chaise Lounge From Scratch.
Towards the end of last Winter we had a heat wave where I live, with temps. in the upper 90s for a couple weeks, and I really wanted to take advantage by laying out in the sun with my coffee and sudoku; sounds like a great plan right?
Unfortionately, the way the house is shaped and oriented and the locations of all the trees make it so that the only place that has sun throughout the day is in the middle of the lawn. So, despite the fact that we have two nice decks, I was relagated to laying a towel out on our lumpy uneven lawn, and I decided that this just wouldn't do.
I set about trying to find some resources online; I know there are at least a couple other chaise ibles on here but they weren't quite what I was looking for; and much to my dismay, the only info. I could find came in the form of plans for sale on woodworking sites.
Well, being an ibler at heart, I wasn't about to pay for instructions, and set out to figure it out for myself. After all, I did have one ace up my sleeve in the form of an aging, decrepit chaise that was probably built before I was born which I could examine for ideas.
It turned out that the ace was more of a joker though, because it used this strange support system for the cushion involving woven, flat metal strips attached to the frame with dozens of springs, and although it would probably have been comfortable, I was trying to get this done without spending too much money.
After sitting in the garage, looking around and scratching my head for a while I gave up and went to play a Mass Effect for a few hours. At some point, all the bits and pieces I had seen laying around must have wormed their way into my idea of what the chaise should end up like, because the next morning I woke up, got some coffee and just started building.
Step 1: I Kinda Just Built the Frame and Went From There.
I failed to take any pictures while I was building it months ago since I didn't really know exactly how the finished product would work while I was building. Recently, however; I was finally able to find a pad for it (silly seasonal products) so I took it apart to give it a coat of weatherproofing, and that's when I took all the pics so I will do my best to explain as I go.
To get started, all that is really needed is lots of lumber and decking screws, which I had plenty of around. The basic proportions are that the whole thing should be about six feet long and about two feet wide and I used the height of the crook of my knee when seated as the basic height measurement.
If you are buying lumber for this project, you would need about 30 ft. of 2x4 and four cedar, dog-ear fence boards, but I just used what I had, most of which was left over from rebuilding the deck last summer.
The base of this project is a 6ft. by about 22" frame because I wanted the seat part to hang over some. Cut the fence boards into thirds, roughly 2ft. each, and use the square pieces to cover 2/3 of the frame, leaving the dog-eared tops for the seat back.
The seat back is just a smaller frame that fits inside the larger frame that is essentially square save for the little feet that stick out the bottom for the hinge mechanism. (see pic five) Sorry, I don't remember the dimensions for the seat back frame, but it just has to be wide enough to fit inside the larger frame, not snugly, but there shouldn't be gaps either; and, it should be a bit longer than the uncovered portion of the base frame.
Step 2: Feet.
As I said before, I based the height of the chaise on the height of my knees which turns out to be about 16" and I think that is just a fine height.
One bit of inspiration I found in the garage that I forgot to mention earlier was a pair of wheels off an old golf bag trolley, which would go on one end and make it much easier to move the thing around. This turned out to be a bit of a challange, because I wanted the wheels in the back since it would be the heavier end, but had to keep them clear of the mechanism that allows the back to be adjustable to different angles. The solution I came up with was this triangular support for the axle which allowed it to be placed as far back as possible while still being solid.
The front legs are pretty self-explanatory, I just used a short piece of 2x6, and it's only cut like that to somewhat mirror the angle of the rear axle supports.
P.s. If it looks like the axle can't spin, that's because it can't. one of the wonderful things about using the golf trolley wheels is that the wheel spins freely on the built in bit that slides over and clamps onto the shaft.
Step 3: Hinges.
I opted to use these things as hinges because, like I said , I was trying to do this on the cheap and these were a lot less than a chunk a rod thick enough that it wouldn't bend under weight. Happily, they worked out just fine. Unhappily, the longest ones my local hardware store had were too short to go through two 2x's so I ended up using a chisel and hammer to carve out some wood around the hole on the outside of the base frame and the inside of the seat back frame until the bolt thing poked through enough that I could but the pin on.
Just look at the pics and you will get what I mean.
Step 4: Seat Back Adjustment. Part One.
It took a few trips to the hardware store just looking around for something to make the saw-tooth or wave pattern that I needed to make the seat back adjustable until I settled on a couple feet of this right angle bracket.
I used bolt cutters to score the metal where I wanted to cut it and this made making the actual cuts with a hack saw much easier and precise. Then I smoothed out the bits that needed it on a bench grinder. The first three pics show it in more detail.
Make two of these, taking care that they are mirrored, not exactly the same, then brace them parallel to each other at one end like in pic four, and use the method as in the previous step to hinge them on the other end to the inside of the seat back frame.
All that's left is the bar that this mechanism catches on.
P.s. You just have to play with the placement of the hinges and the bar I just mentioned until you get a setup that works well, but putting the hinges low on seat back and the bar about eight inches down from the seat back hinges worked well for me.
Step 5: Seat Back Adjustment. Part Two.
I made this step a lot more complicated than it had to be because I was trying to use a piece of metal rod I scavenged from the old chaise. Basically all you need is a bar going across the base frame for the brackets to catch on.
Note: If you are following my design, the bar must be mounted below the base frame, not through it, otherwise you will not be able to put the back down flat.
If you want the hear the harrowing tale of how I did it, by all means, read on. You get the idea from the first pic though.
It's kind of stupid in hind sight that I spent a couple hours making this rod work instead of just getting another $4 piece of threaded rod, but once I got rolling I had to finish.
First of all, those brackets in the second pic have holes that are way too big for the rod I was using, so I tried to make it less of a gaping hole by shoving some washers in there. I don't know how much good this actually did, but they are still there. This did not solve the problem of the bar being able to slide out since there was nothing on the ends, however; this is where it got interesting.
I used my table saw with a metal cutting blade just barely sticking up above the guard and carefully ran the rod across it while twisting it to create the notch you can see in pic 6. I then used a blowtorch to heat up a washer and smashed it to lock it into the notch. Put the brackets on and then do the same to the other side and you won't be able to put them on after both ends are locked, that's kind of the point isn't it.
Warning. I was using washers out of a mystery jar, and one of them just kind of started to melt on the fire and then just fell apart when I went to smash it. I'm guessing it was aluminum, but don't have any metal working experience so I don't know. Then again, this warning is really superfluous since most people would have to go far out of their way to replicate my process exactly, and the same result could be accomplished much more simply for a couple dollars. I was just being stubborn at this point.
Step 6: Seat Back Adjustment. Part Three.
See it in action!
You just pull it up a bit until you hear it pop over the next set of teeth to get to the next position. To but it back down you just pull up on the handle (the threaded rod) and when you want to put it all the way down the brackets rest on that flat bit in the back instead of just hanging down or getting stuck on the support rod.
Step 7: Finishing Touches and Conclusion
After treating the wood and putting it back together I was finally able to put the new cushion on and give it a try.
I added these wood drawer handles to tie down the pad, but they still need to be treated.
Notes: I probably spent $16 at most on this project for all the metal bits. I used threaded rod because it's cheaper, and if you are buying the wood, the cedar fence boards not only look cool, but it's a lot cheaper than the 1x6 white wood boards you can get at places like ACE or Osh. Also, The $16 obviously does not include the pad which was a gift/bribe for finishing the project I started almost six months ago when it was in the triple digits here but there was not a chaise pad to be had. If you have some wood and screws this project is easily doable for under $50
Future improvements: The first time I sat in it I was holding a soda in one hand and a pack of cigarettes in the other and realized there was no where for them to go so I think the first mod will have to be a slide out ash tray on one side and either a slide out cup holder or fold out side table. I'm also thinking about using an umbrella and small flag pole mount to attach a sun shade that moves with the seat back. Plus, I really want to paint the hubs on the wheels.
As always, questions, comments, and suggestions are welcome.