The Becket Chair: Folding Wood Beach Chair Under $6 in Under an Half Hour*

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This is a great beach/lawn chair that folds up into itself. It is deceivingly strong as well. The version made with 1x2 supports easily holds a 200lb person. For large people I make the supports out of 2x2, but I don't even know if it is necessary.

This design with the jig was made to be used at summer camp in the woodshop, so the kids can make a woodshop project in one session, without power tools. It is named after the summer camp I attend every year as an adult: Camp Becket in the Berkshires. At the end of the summer the camp opens for a week of "family camp" where the whole family can stay and enjoy the facilities. I spend the whole week in the woodshop.

*I spent about an hour making a jig for making this chair, but now I can bang out these chairs super fast.

Step 1: Let's Get the Supplies, and Start With Making a Jig

Even if you are only making a few of these chairs, I recommend making the jig anyway. It just makes building it so much easier and the results come out so much better as everything is perfectly square, aligned, and spaced. If you get 4 1x2x8' you'll have enough 1x2 for a chair and a jig. the 1x2's and the home improvement store are about $1.50 each. I used a piece of scrap paneling for the bottom of the jig, If you don't have one, a big piece of cardboard from an amazon box will work just as fine.

I colored the jig in the pictures blue. the spacers are also colored blue as for this build I make the supports out of 2x2's, and used the 2x2 spacers. Also shown are the red 1x2 spacers. You would just substitute the red spacers if your chair is using 1x2 supports.

Oh, by the way just to be clear. when I say 1x2 and 2x2, those are the standard "sizes" of the wood. they actually measure 3/4 x 1.5, I'm assuming the "1x2" is actually 3/4 x 1 1/2" and the "2x2" is actually 1 1/2 x 1 1/2.

So for the jig I glued down 1x2 scraps (you'll have a bunch when you cut down the pieces,) perfectly square on three sides to the flat bottom. You will also set aside two pieces of the support legs material you'll need as spacers too, don't glue those down. Also for the jig, I used some of the big paint sticks and notched out two steps the width of the supports. IN the picture you'll see how the notches go. OH! also mark on one of the paintstick spacers a length of 4 3/4" and 9", you'll need those measurements. later.

The idea is when you build the backside of the chair, you don't use the support spacers and you use the first notches on the paintstick spacers to separate the supports (and space the spindles.)

When you build the bottom of the chair you put the support spacers flush with inside sides of the jig so the bottom of the chair supports are spaced in exactly (plus a little,) inside the backside supports. For the bottom, you will lock and space the spindles with the second, inside set of notches of the painstick spacers.

Now for the material you'll need for the chair. Please note, you really only need hand tools to make this chair although I like to pre-drill my holes for the wood screws.


The BOM (bill of material)

13 @ 1x2x14" -the spindles

4 @ 2x2x26" - the supports (you can use 1x2x26" if you like instead)

1 @ 1x2x12.5" -the bottom back brace

open stock consumables: (stuff you just keep stock of in the woodshop)

1 1/4" wood deck screws, a bunch.

sand paper - sand all SIX sides of each piece of wood and round them off and all EIGHT corners of each piece.

titlebond outdoor wood glue

teak oil

marine varnish

Step 2: The Build. Pt1 - the Backside Piece

If you've gotten this far there really is only about 10 minutes more work until the chair is usable. Look at the pictures, set the supports on the sides and use the spacer to wedge them all the way out using the first set of notches. place the first spindle flush on the top of the jig, and put the screws through the spindle onto the support. Now I like to pre-drill the wood so it doesn't split, and between the two pieces that meet, put a dot of titlebond glue. Oh on the first spindle you may want to notch out a fingerhold to carry the chair, you'll see a picture of that later on.

For the next and subsequent spindles, use two of the spacers to get the right space between the spindles and repeat the screw and glue step. Did I mention to make two of the spacers? use two paintsticks.

work your way down for all 5 spindles. Its really quick. I mean reading these instructions takes about the same amount of time as actually doing the job.

Now take another spindle and measure up 4 3/4" (you already marked one of the paintsticks with that mark, copy that mark to the support, look at the diagram in step 1,) from the bottom of the supports and put the spindle on. this spindle will the the lower cross support. Now take the entire assembly out of the jig, turn it over and put another spindle across the supports at 9" up from the bottom. this is the upper cross support. You are now done with the backside piece

When our done with the bottom piece, you will slide the bottom piece between the two cross supports and this will lock the chair in the one direction you sit to give you the nice reclined beach chair.

Step 3: The Build Pt 2- the Bottom Piece.

The bottom piece build is basically the same build with different spacing. you will put the support spacers in place, and wedge a piece of cardboard between the jig and and support spacers. This will allow the bottom piece to have a little wiggle room so you can slide it easily between the backside piece for assembly and storage.

the spindles and spacing work the same way as the backside piece, just use the inside set of notches to hold back the supports. Spacing works the same way for all six spindles.

the 12.5" short cross member goes at bottom of the supports.

I also shave down the support a bit so is slides into the backside piece easier for storage. If you don't do this, the bottom piece sometimes gets stuck/wedged into the backside piece when its stored.

Step 4: You Can Use the Chair Now, But the Devil Is in the Details.

at this point (well after an hour or two to let the glue dry,) you have a working chair. just slip the the bottom piece in between the upper and lower support with the spindles facing up and the cross support will lock the chair so that the seat is amazingly well supports and you will be in a very relaxed leaning back position. You can also separate the two pieces and feed he bottom through the backside piece from behind so the seat slides down until it hits the upper cross support. if that is too low, put some stopper screws in so the to stop the bottom pieces from sliding two far down.

Step 5: More Detailing

here we see the final chairs first without stain or finish, but I did notch out the handhold in the top spindle I also cut off the triangle by the feet for a more level foot. In the final version/pictures I'm showing a finished 1x2 supported chair I did earlier and I put a coat of golden oak stain on it before finishing and that's what that golden color is, but even if you don't stain it, the varnish will yellow it very nicely as well.

To weatherproof these chairs, mix a solution of 1/2 teak oil and 1/2 marine varnish for the first thin coat on all surfaces. I find that straight marine varnish tents to coat the wood and then after a season peels off. By mixing it with teak oil, the oil soaks into the wood, dragging the varnish with it and the results last much better, longer, and no peeling. I put 2 or three coats of the mix on and then straight varnish and I end up with a glass sheen on the wood.

Step 6: Finished.

here's a pic of the finished chairs I built in this instructable (the 2x2's) there is no stain on this chair just about 8 coats of my varnish treatment. Also, here I am enjoying the fruits of my labor from last year. FWIW, those chairs, in the lawn, They have been sitting outside for a full year, all winter long.

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    4 Discussions

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    Crustysk8er

    19 days ago

    This is such a simple yet effective design. I will definetly be saving this and building very soon! Style ideas are already popping up in my mind and I will let you know how they turn out. Thanks for sharing!

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    jleslie48Crustysk8er

    Reply 16 days ago

    Looking forward to seeing what you can do with it!

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    ANDRELAS

    20 days ago on Step 6

    Very cool. It's so simple, why wouldn't you build one. You'd probably need to build more than one to have one to yourself. I think I'd also add a third section to pivot out for leg support, and maybe another small section on that to pivot out to elevate the legs. Now, where to put the cup holder?

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    jleslie48ANDRELAS

    Reply 19 days ago

    I never get by without building 2 or more at a time. they are just too easy. They make great house gifts too.

    I'm not sure if leg supports are necessary, the the one issue is there is no head support if you want to take a nap. I'm working on that.