I designed this chair last summer. I felt like designs I had done in the past looked like small tables with a backrest, so I set out to fix that. This chair is made from clear vertical grain western red cedar. The entire piece is built with mortise and tenon construction. I had recently purchased a Festool domino joiner and I wanted to put it thru it's paces. This was the perfect opportunity. This chair has 134 mortises, each one cut with the Domino joiner. The gap between the pieces is only 3/16 so being precise was crucial. Any variation would be very noticeable and ruin the piece. The domino joiner passed the test easily and made what was a very intimidating task managable. It still drove me crazy but I got thru it..
Step 1: Materials List
25 board feet of Western Red Cedar, Teak, White Oak, Cypress, Redwood, or any wood suitable for an outdoor project.
Festool Domino joiner , Or Kreg Jig for pocket hole screws or another type of pocket hole jig.
band saw or jig saw
Step 2: Cutting Slats and Legs
Start out by cutting the rails and slats. All slats are 3/4" thick, all leg and rail material is 5/4 (1 1/4") While you are at the table saw cut 29 pieces at 1 1/4" x 20" and 4 @ 17"x2" for the legs. 2 of those pieces need to be beveled at 7* to meet up with the backrest. The two pieces for the backrest are 21"x 2 1/2", and beveled at 7*. Cut 3 pieces at 18" for the front and back apron and lower support piece between legs. This is just a guide.Those are my final lengths. Cut your pieces big in case you want to make a change. What looks good to me may not look right to you. Leave yourself some room for a change if need be. Never take the pieces down to final dimension until you are certain.
Step 3: DESIGN
So as I said in the intro. This chair was NOT going to resemble a table with a backrest. Soooo.. I started with a basic design and tweeked and tweeked and tweeked until I was happy. I gave the back a 7* tilt and I added a lumbar support from the top of the seat to about mid back. This wasn't done in any scientific way I did a normal 5* tilt and added a little. The lumbar support was done the same way. If you make the backrest plenty thick it gives you the freedom to make it how you want. Much harder to add wood on. Although you could if needed..But that's a different conversation all together isn't it.. Anyway if you wanna do one just start with a basic design and mess around with to until it's pleasing visually and ergonomically.. You'll get it!
Step 4: Cutting Mortises for Seat and Backrest
Now comes the tricky part. If you don't have a domino joiner this is gonna be tough (or not). You can use a chisel if you want to go for a traditional build but remember there are 134 mortises on this chair. You could also use FF size biscuits but the slats would need to be a little wider. You can use screws and a counter sink bit. No shame in that. I just wanted to see if I could do it this way ( I used 5mmX30mm dominoes for the seat). However you choose to attach the slats you will need to cut spacer blocks to go between them while you attach them. Here you can also cut the mortises for the rails in the legs and lower support pieces. I went with 6" from the floor but whatever looks good to the eye will work. I always try to design something that's easy to clean around. So and inside piece I want to be able to get a vacuum under it and an outside piece, a broom. 6" felt right here. I used 10mmX50MM dominoes here for strength, but traditional mortise and tenon or pocket hole screws and glue will also work.
*NOTE* When I am happy with how everything fits I take everything apart one more time and put a bevel edge on all the slats and round the edges on all the legs and support aprons at the router table.
Step 5: Glue UP!!
Carefully glue, or screw all pieces together starting by gluing all the slats to the seat and back while separated. After they have dried then attach the back and seat to each other and to the apron and lower support rails. Make sure to use blocks to keep all the gaps consistent. This is very important. The gaps will be out of alignment if you don't use them! When all pieces are in place, clamp them and remove any excess glue from the joints. You can also tape the joints with blue painters tape. This helps with glue that escapes the joint not soak into the fibers of the wood. Let chair dry overnight.
Step 6: Finish
This chair is finished with 4 coats of general finishes exterior 450, that was sprayed with my Fuji HVLP. It is a very high grade finish and allows the natural beauty of the cedar to show thru, but contains uv blockers to help protect from the sun. This chair would also look really nice painted. Do anything you want, Make it your own!! Can't wait to see what you all come up with.
I would be full of it if I said this was a relaxing, enjoyable build that took me away from all the troubles of the day to day and allowed me to get lost in a world of glue and sawdust for a few hours. The truth is I am a journeyman carpenter and this is the first piece of furniture I designed for the furniture company I have decided to start. It was difficult. Cutting that many mortises, all having to be perfect took it's toll on me mentally. Several times I had to just walk away, sometimes for days. But I got it done. And I'm glad I did. It has now been featured on this website, and received thousands of views. It was not easy. But it was my first design and I wanted to make a statement. I believe I did.
If anyone would like to build this chair I am happy to answer any questions you may have that were not included in the Instructable. This is a 100% original, from my brain design and I give any and all permission to build one.
Participated in the