Gerrit Rietveld Crate Chair

7,867

114

25

About: I am a 54 year old mother of three, a grandmother of 3, an accountant. All I wanna do is make things out of wood.

I love making chairs!

I wanted something like an adirondack chair, but I wanted it to be different.

And I'm drawn to the chairs of Gerrit Rietveld, a Dutch furniture designer. Apparently, he hoped to mass produce his chairs, so he kept them simple.

And who doesn't love simple?

Anyone can make these chairs with just a chop saw, a table saw, some screws, and a drill. Let me show you just how simple Gerrit Rietveld's chairs are.

Step 1: Gather Some Pine

Ugh, my garage!

This project is a GREAT way to get rid of some pine. These chairs can be made out of anything, I suppose, but I recommend pine for your first try. Gather all your pine, and get a pen and paper, and let's get to work.

Step 2: Dimensions

Hard to believe you can make such a sweet chair with so little wood.

For the sides of the chair, you'll build them in an H shape, as shown in the picture. You will overlap the left side of the H over the horizontal piece of the H, while the right side piece will be behind the horizontal piece. That's hard to say. Look at the picture of the H and do that. That will be the right side of your chair. The left side will be just the opposite.

DIMENSIONS FOR THE H'S:

The left and right sides of the H are 22 1/2" X 6" and you'll need 4 of those.

The horizontal piece of the H is 25 1/2" X 6" and you'll need 2 of those.

Now look at the Intro picture of the Rietveld chair. You'll notice that the seat and the backrest look the same. That's because they are!!! They are identical!!! Gerrit Rietveld was a genius.

The seat and the back rest are simply 3 pieces of wood slats held together by 2 thin strips of wood in the back. Easy peasy.

DIMENSIONS FOR THE SEAT AND BACKREST:

Cut 6 identical slats 17 3/4" X 5 1/4" and then cut 4 strips 18" X 2"

DIMENSIONS FOR THE ARMRESTS:

Finally, the arm rests. You'll need 2 of these, one for each arm. They are 25 1/2" X 2 1/2"

Once all your cutting is done, you should sand lightly.

Step 3: Screw and Glue Your H's and Seat and Backrest

The H's are really straightforward. Measure 12" from the bottom of your vertical H board, and make a line. That's where the bottom of the horizontal piece should go. Glue, clamp, and let her dry. Once the glue dries, if you're smart and intuitive, you'll figure out how you can screw that H together without any of the screws showing.

Tip: The front of the chair on both the left and right side has the vertical overlapping the horizontal.

Now, onto the seat and the back rest. As mentioned, the slats are 5 1/4" wide and 17 3/4" long and you will space them out and place the 18" X 2" strips along the edges and glue and screw. That will leave 1 1/8" spaces between the slats. I suggest getting a little spacer to help line things up. I screwed those strips into the slats in the back and they didn't show. Or you can sink them into the wood and fill with wood putty.

Step 4: Attach the H's to the Seat

This is tricky. You might need 2 people and some glue and clamps. The seat needs to be angled slightly back like an adirondack chair, and that angle will be up to you. The seat attaches to the horizontal part of the H's. I glued and screwed the H's to the seat and countersunk my screws and filled them with wood putty. I used deck screws because, well, you'll be sitting on it, and you don't want it to crumble with your weight. The screw holes still show after staining it, but they add character. Then do the same with the backrest, leaving some space between the seat and the backrest, again glue and screw together.

Finally, screw on the arms. The arms are fun because on the right side of the chair, in the front, the screw will be on the right side, but on the back of the chair, the screw will be on the left. And on the left arm, in the front, the screw will be on the left side, but on the back of the chair, the screw will be on the right. This is due to the way the H is built with the overlapping slats. The width of your arm rests is limited by the width of your H.

Step 5: You Have Yourself a Gerrit Rietveld Crate Chair

Maybe even throw a pillow on there.

If you make 4 of these, they would look nice around a bonfire.

Note: The dimensions I provided are from my own trial and error. The first Gerrit Rietveld Crate Chair I made was way too low and people laughed at it. Someone asked me if it was for a child. On my second try, I came up with the dimensions provided. However, you could make it taller or wider or more adirondacky if you'd like.

Happy sitting!!!

SIDE NOTE: If anyone reading this has the plans for a Gerrit Rietveld Steltman Chair, and would like to share them, please let me know. That's my next project. A Steltman Chair made out of 2 X 4's, trimmed and planed.

Share

    Recommendations

    • Puzzle Challenge

      Puzzle Challenge
    • Big and Small Contest

      Big and Small Contest
    • First Time Author

      First Time Author

    25 Discussions

    1
    None
    Omega0397

    2 months ago

    I've completed making one of these chairs, and while I'm happy with the outcome and the original idea, I found this Instructable light on details and missing an important piece of information. First of all, if you go out and buy lumber or you take stock of what you have at home, the width dimensions given are the actual dimensions that should be used EXCEPT for the 1" x 6" boards, which are actually the 5.5" you would expect when buying dimensional lumber. No big deal, I caught that early on. The real catch comes when you go to attach the back of the chair (I did the seat first) and find out there is no way that it's going to fit! The way the sides of the chair are made (the 'H' shape) means you have 1.5" less width for the back of the chair to fit in. I looked back at the photos of the finished product provided and noticed that the slats on the back of the chair shown looked to have a wider middle one. I can only assume the author ended up doing the same as I did and shaving 3/4 of an inch off of each side of the back piece to get it to fit. Like I said, I liked the idea of this chair and the outcome, but there were definitely missing details that caused frustration. Additionally, I used 1/4" thickness lag bolts to attach the seat and back so it can withstand more weight.

    0
    None
    bethanybdavidsonRev_William

    Answer 2 months ago

    Yes! Though I would have used bolts for this instead to ensure it's a tad more sturdy. As someone mentioned above, these screws sometimes snap where a bolt is not likely to do that. Of course, you may not be able to hide those as easily, but you could also opt for a different look - more industrial with the exposed bolts, maybe paint the wood white or black or slate gray.

    0
    None
    CharlieM17Rev_William

    Answer 2 months ago

    I'm a big guy too. I suggest instead of Pine, opt for a stronger wood. I built four Adirondack chairs out of Oak three years ago and no problems. I used a clear stain & sealer and they still look great!

    0
    None
    daveskigRev_William

    Answer 2 months ago

    My guess is that there are too many lateral loads on screws that go directly into end grain to say that this is "a strong chair". Screws can sheer. End grain can split. It is such a simple build, so try it anyway. There are lots of ways to reinforce joints (junctions, in fact, they are not joints) if you find that some have movement.

    0
    None
    SusanYoung1982Henkvanbinnen

    Reply 2 months ago

    Oh wow! This is so cool. I will print this out!! And he used screws - I'm surprised.

    0
    None
    HenkvanbinnenSusanYoung1982

    Reply 2 months ago

    rietveld used copper srews and its ment to see the scews on the outside.. The design is from the 1930 ,s

    0
    None
    David RSusanYoung1982

    Reply 2 months ago

    It looks like he used real wood screws, the kind with the thick shank. Those screws are much stronger than deck screws, by a factor of ten or more probably. This is great you found this drawing and thanks for posting it- very informative.

    0
    None
    HenkvanbinnenHenkvanbinnen

    Reply 2 months ago

    Also a nice chair of rietveld simple to make and you will be suprised of the measurments 5 cm 10 15 20 and so on the used wood was oak it was special made

    IMG_2569.JPG
    0
    None
    Henkvanbinnen

    2 months ago

    there is also a very simple and nice garden bench from Rietveld.

    If you google: rietveld kratmeubelen

    Or rietveld tuinbank tekening

    you find more drawings also a high chair, a table, child chair.

    IMG_2557.JPG
    3 replies
    0
    None
    SusanYoung1982Henkvanbinnen

    Reply 2 months ago

    Ooh thanks Henkvanbinnen,

    I was not aware of the garden bench - it's nice! And looks easy to make.

    0
    None
    thedud

    2 months ago

    Belle réalisation.

    Les bras sont sans doute un peu fins. Difficile d'y poser sa bière ou un verre de vin. ;-)

    Merci pour le partage.

    Jean

    2 replies
    0
    None
    SusanYoung1982thedud

    Reply 2 months ago

    I don't think Rietveld was a drinker. All the armrests on his chairs and benches were very narrow.

    0
    None
    David R

    2 months ago

    I might choose to add some cleats and then some threaded inserts and use bolts. Deck screws can snap easily so maybe adding a quarter inch bolt to carry the weight might make this more durable. Thanks so much for sharing this very interesting build. Your chairs look fantastic.