Convert a Car Seat Into the Coolest Office Chair Ever

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About: I like to do electronics, metalworking, woodworking, fixing things and all sort of cool and stupid things :)

I always wanted a good office chair to have in my room in front of the computer. A lot of my hobbies revolve around computer, so I needed good office chair, so I stay seated with the correct posture in front of the computer.

I looked for buying a good office chair, but the good ones start in 250$ ranges and above. That is quite a lot. So I decided to make my own to satisfy my forever hungry DIY side.


So I came onto idea to convert car seat into an office chair. Car seats are meant for sitting for long hours and that would be a great option if I could put it in front of the computer since the car seats have a lot of adjustments.

Feel free to look at the video where the entire conversion process is shown.

I will further explain the details in this instructable.

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Step 1: Finding the Car Seat

First I started looking for car seats on car junkyards. I was hoping to find a decently preserved one for a cheap price.

I visited two junkyards, but all they had were old cars with broken windows, sitting all dirty on the rain for god knows how long. The seats inside were terrible. I wanted a fairly clean seat, because it will be positioned in my bedroom and the last thing I want is bad smell.

So I started looking for online ads selling wrecked cars for parts. This way I could get seats from newer cars. Newer models have more adjustable and better quality seats.


I stumbled across an ad selling a wrecked 2015 Volkswagen Golf. I called if they still had the seats and they said yes. Then I hopped into my car and drove 100 miles to get them.

The drive was worth it, because the seats were in pristine condition. The car had under 10k miles on the clock. The seats were still smelling like new.

I got one seat for 100 bucks which is a bargain for a seat like this.

The seat has manual controls for forward/backward moving, tilt height and lumbar support (lumbar support is very nice). If you feel adventurous you could buy the electric adjusting seats or seats with heating... But they cost more and over-complicate the build unnecessarily. Plus you would need to install the battery into the seat and charge it... Not worth the hassle if you ask me. Manual adjustment rocks.

EDIT:

IMPORTANT!!!

The seat also has built-in airbag. If your seat has airbag built in - the yellow connector below the seat is usually for pyrotechnics like the airbag and the little flag on the backrest on the outboard side also informs you of the airbag inside.

You should take the seat to a professional to remove the airbag. The
airbag can deploy just from static electricity. And the airbag is like a big bomb. You don't want that to blow up in your office. Take the seat to a professional and they will happily remove the airbag.

When you have the airbag removed, fill the gap with a hard piece of foam, so that the sidebolster of the backrest doesn't get too soft there.

Step 2: Find the Donor Office Chair

You will need to get an old office chair that still has a good base with wheels. I managed to get a broken one for free. I had only a minor welding job to fix it and it was good enough for the job.

As you will soon realize, the office chair base is way to tall for mounting the car seat directly. The car seat has much thicker seat pad and if you mount the seat directly on the base plate of the office chair, the seat will stand way too tall for practical use.

So I needed to shorten the base somehow in order to get the required height.

Step 3: Shorting the Office Chair Cylinder and Base

Sorry I forgot to take some pictures of this process, but you can see the procedure in the video from 0:40 onward.

I decided to shorten the pneumatic cylinder considerably (around 15cm), otherwise the seat would be way too high.

But there was a problem.

The cylinder is filled with high pressure gas and has a lot of warnings written on the side. All the signs can be summoned up in one sentence. Don't touch, don't open.

I googled for the entire day trying to find a safe way of releasing the gas before I started to cut it with an angle grinder.

Not much information is available. mostly people recommend drilling a small hole to release the gas near the top of the cylinder.

So I decided to give it a go with all possible safety precautions.

I decided to drill a small 2mm hole near the top of the cylinder in order to release the gas. The safest way was to insert the cylinder into a square metal tube which would capture if gasses or oils escaped with high velocity. I also used a protective "blast shield" - a plastic container lid, ear and eye and hand protection because I did not know what to expect.

I proceeded to drill the hole and when I drilled through the way a hissing sound was heard when the gas was released. Very anticlimactic, but you never know. Maybe a different type of cylinder would make a bang. Then I pushed the height adjustment arm a few times and some more gas fizzled out. Then it was empty and the piston moved freely.

IF YOU WILL EVER CONSIDER DRILLING INTO GAS CYLINDER TAKE ALL SAFETY PRECAUTIONS! IF YOU ARE NOT SURE OR DON'T HAVE PROPER EQUIPMENT, HAVE SOMEONE WHO HAS THE TOOLS AND PROTECTIONS NEEDED DO IT. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! I TAKE NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS!

Then also the base of the office chair needed to be shortened accordingly.Shorting the base is simple. Using my big angle grinder I cut of the appropriate length of the tube on the legs of the chair. I reinstalled the plastic piece that was inside the tube back into the shortened tube.

Step 4: Fixing the Cut End of the Gas Cylinder

I had to make the plug for the gas cylinder. The plug is there to close the open end where I cut the cylinder. This is where all the weight presses onto the base of the chair. I also forgot to take more pictures. But you can see the process in the video.

I made a simple aluminum plug which closed the end. I drilled a hole for a screw through the middle of the plug. This is for fixing the cylinder to the base. This way the legs will not fall off the chair when the chair is lifted.

I also made a simple thick plastic washer which will lessen the friction when the chair is rotated as there will not be any metal to metal grinding happening this way.

Step 5: The Shortened Base

The base is now shortened as much as it can be. Make sure that the tilt spring knob isn't hitting the legs of the chair.

Step 6: Shortening the Sliding Rails

The sliding rails stuck out too much.I would clip all the furniture in my room with that :)

Since I didn't need the full range of motion they offered, so I cut off approximately 10cm of the rails at the back with an angle grinder.

A bunch of ball bearings fell out, but somehow the rails still work since some of the ball bearings are in the front compartment and I am happy with that :) They are still solid and do not have any play in them.

Step 7: The Bracket for Joining Office Chair Plate and Car Seat Rails

I welded a simple bracket for joining the two halves together. I made it from 15mm square steel tubing and 10x30mm tubing. It is plenty strong for the purpose.

It is not symmetrical, because the seat center is also not at center of the rails.

I decided for mounting it to the original sliding rails of the seat. This way the center of gravity can be adjusted at any time. When you tilt the seat all the way back in the reclined position, you want to have the wheels a little bit further back if you don't want to tip over.

Step 8: The Holy Marriage

Then the holy moment happens when you join both parts together and everything fits as it should :)

Step 9: Shortening the Adjustment Arm

The forward/backward adjustment arm was too long for office use, so I needed to shorten it. I cut it off with an angle grinder and reattached the plastic end back with a screw., Quick and easy job and great results!

Step 10: Finished!

The best of the best office chairs is now finished!

Sit down, relax and enjoy the creation you have made!

What I really like about this seat is all the adjustment options it has. I also like that the seat bottom is tilted to the back. I find this much more comfortable as I don't slide from the seat and below the table :) It is great for doing computer work.Plus it has a storage drawer in front and a pocket in the back for storing stuff!

And yes, I decided to keep the belt buckle :) I think it looks cool and maybe
someday I will make an auxiliary beer holder that attaches to this clip :)

Hope you liked this instructable!

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    22 Discussions

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    67spyder

    Tip 2 days ago

    Something worth noting is that car upholstery is really tough so if you find the right seats that are just dirty you can clean almost anything out. I have used really aggressive stuff like Tide or even comet and a stiff scrub brush and then pressure washed the seats, leave them out in the sun till dry.

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    Jule67spyder

    Reply 2 days ago

    Good tip! Yes, this stuff is tough. In want a jacket made out of this material :)

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    TimF10

    3 days ago on Step 2

    I did something similar, but deleted the seat tracks. Most vehicles have 4 bolts that bolt the seat tracks to the seat. This allows the same basic seat frame to be used with multiple sets of tracks in multiple vehicles. This is how I have a set of 2003 Grand Cherokee seats in my 1997 Cherokee. I swapped the Cherokee seat tracks on to the Grand Cherokee seats.

    But after removing the seat tracks, which in my mind makes the seat less likely to tip over if somebody moves the seats on the track, you are left with a very simple mounting setup. All you need is a piece of 1" thick plywood. I started with a 2'x2' square cut off that was very cheap from the lumber yard.

    I mapped out where the seat needed to be in relationship to the base to keep the weight over the center post of the base to reduce the risk of tipping. Once that was worked out, drill 8 holes in the plywood. 4 are to bolt the seat to the plywood, and 4 are to bolt the plywood to the seat base.

    Once you have everything dry fit, trim the overhang on the plywood so that it doesn't stick out past the seat, and finish the plywood as desired. Once the plywood is done, bolt it back together for final assembly.

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    JuleTimF10

    Reply 2 days ago

    Yes I agree. But I kept the tracks so I can still slide the seat around and move the center of gravity. Because if the seat is in normal seating position, the center of gravity is more towards the front. But if you recline the seat to 45 degrees or more, the center of gravity moves further back significantly.
    But yes, In mostly keep the track setting on only one position all the time.

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    TimF10Jule

    Reply 2 days ago

    I understand your point. I don't tend to adjust my recline at my desk or in my vehicles after I get them set. I was offering another option to build the chair with less complexity.

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    JuleTimF10

    Reply 2 days ago

    Yes, I am known for overcomplicating my stuff. You can see it from my other instructables or my youtube videos :) I just need to have all the features :P

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    TimF10ETsCat

    Reply 2 days ago

    I built my first one in 2004 or 2005 literally in my kitchen with hand tools. Not having a shop is not an excuse. I understand the funds situation, but my first one was a scavenged seat and chair base. The only expenditure was $10 - $15 for plywood (which could be scavenged) and hardware (I choose to use new bolts, but that could be scavenged also).

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    JuleETsCat

    Reply 2 days ago

    I believe you will be able to get one for yourself one day!

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    hallcp

    3 days ago

    Very nice! I'm sure that car seat will last forever. They're built way tougher than office chairs. I appreciate the clearness of the video. You didn't gloss over any of the potentially off-putting steps, like welding. I hate instructables that slip in some impossible step ("now use your plasma cutter") way down in the body of the instructions. I'm very tempted to try this project!

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    Julehallcp

    Reply 2 days ago

    Thank you!
    Yes I skipped the details, because they are different for each chair. And I don't have the fancy tools either :)
    And yes, these seats will last forever. I like how sturdy everything is compared to office chairs. Everything is rigid, nothing bends or squeaks.

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    solarborgTreasure Tabby

    Reply 3 days ago

    I did this back in 98 with a seat out of a cortina Mk5 and a bucket seat out of a custom van the trick is getting the balance just right. The centre of gravity has to be over the hydraulic stem. Good job though

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    Julesolarborg

    Reply 2 days ago

    I see that a lot of chairs were made :) That is awesome!

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    TimF10Treasure Tabby

    Reply 3 days ago

    I made one in 2004 and everything thought I was crazy.

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    TimF10Jule

    Reply 3 days ago

    I made one years ago out of a BMW seat that had a single fold down arm rest. I had gotten both seats, so i was able to scavenge the other arm rest and mount it on the side that didn't have one.

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    RomasPTreasure Tabby

    Reply 3 days ago

    I made this in about 2000 year or a bit earlier. I did this with Opel Rekord 2 door seat. So it can ford down :) First model was with star legs from steel tubes, furniture casters and vertical rod from shock absorber from the same Opel. Later improved with Office Chair base. I removed all possible lover metal parts from car seat to cut weight down. BTW there was hard to turn grooves in shock absorber rod for height adjustment and finally after some years it broke off in one of grooves. This chair still is in use in my parents house

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    shrydvd

    3 days ago

    Excellent! I will be trying this! Thank you for sharing.

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    Juleshrydvd

    Reply 2 days ago

    Thank you for reading :)