The Climbing Chair




Introduction: The Climbing Chair

The basic principle of "The Climbing Chair": a chair supported by rope on 4 corners to keep it balanced in the air while sitting in it. It is attached to another rope used to hoist yourself up. By pulling down on the rope, you and the chair are lifted. There is also a lock attached (where the red circle is in the diagram) to allow the user to suspend without having to hold onto the rope. This allows you to just "hang out" after pulling yourself up. See diagram below.

When I was younger I loved to climb trees. Nothing was more exciting. In my backyard there was one tree in particular I wanted to climb. One problem though, the lowest branch was roughly 25 feet (7.6 meters) in the air. So I started to think of how I could possibly climb it. For some strange reason I thought of tying rope to a chair. It turns out it is a very effective way to climb. This project, as strange as it sounds, is fun and a great workout for your upper body.

I have always hated these things but here it goes: I take no responsibility and will not be liable for problems or injury that may occur. This can be dangerous so check and recheck your gear before climbing. Make sure all of the equipment you use can handle the weight many times the actual load. There, short and sweet.

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Step 1: Materials and Tools.


Lawn Chair - Any basic folding Lawn Chair with the same basic structure will work just fine. The reason I chose this chair was because it would be easier to weave the rope through and felt very sturdy. Also, this chair is reinforced with metal in the armrests which is a definite plus. The first version of "The Climbing Chair" was one of the cheap plastic ones made out of PVC, it worked just fine.

Rope - 50 feet (15.24 m) 1/2 inch (13 mm) of twisted Polypropylene rope. I would suggest getting braided rope but twisted will work just fine. This rope is rated at 420 lbs (191 kg).

More Rope - I went with another 50 feet (15.24 m), 1/2 inch (13 mm) thick twisted Polypropylene rope for the hoisting rope, but it depends on the height of the branch.

Quick Link or Locking Carabiner - A mid to large size will do just fine. Four ropes will have to fit inside. My Quick Link is 3/8 inch (10 mm) rated at 3000 lbs (1360 kg).

Eye Grab Hook - An Eye Grab Hook is made to work with chains but it is just the item for this job. The Hook should be 5/16 inch (8 mm) rated at 3,900 lbs (1769 kg).

Twine - 50 feet (15.24 m) of 1/8 inch (32 mm) nylon twine. It is rated at 40 lbs (18 kg). Twine is an optional item. It is not necessary but it gives added security to your climb and I have found it makes a cleaner look and a more comfortable climb.


Knife - A sharp knife is important for getting a clean cut in the rope.

Ruler - Any measuring device will do.

Lighter - For melting the ends of the newly cut rope to prevent it from fraying or unraveling.

Electrical Tape - Aids in cutting the rope.

Aluminum Foil - Used in melting the rope but is not necessary.

Marker - Marking measurements on the rope.

Pocket Ref - by Thomas J. Glover. I call it the guide book to life, it is a great reference book to everything. It helped me find the right knots to use. I recommend picking one up. You can find more about it here: here on the publisher's website.

All of the materials can be found at any superstore or hardware store. I purchased all of the items for under 50 dollars (US) but I am sure many people have some of these items lying around the house.

Step 2: Tying the Knot.

First, you need to know how to tie a Bowline Knot and a Stopper Knot. Both of these knots will be combined to attach to the rope to the chair. Use both the links and the pictures below. If you know your knots you can skip this step and move on to step 3.

Here is how to tie a Bowline Knot (it is much easier to follow the pictures) and refer to the links:

1. Measure 33 inches (84 cm) from the end of the rope and mark it (picture 1).

2. Loop the rope over as shown in the second picture below (picture 2).

3. Put the end of the rope under and through the loop (picture 3).

4. Pull the end of the rope under (picture 4).

5. Pull the end of the rope under the loop and over the other (picture 5).

6. Now tighten the knot near the mark by pulling down on the rope and up on the loop, as indicated by the arrows in picture 6. Also leave about 15 inches (34 cm) at the end of the rope (picture 6). Try practicing this a couple of times if you are unfamiliar with it.

Now, Bowline Knot will come untied if there is no load placed on the loop. To correct this problem add a Stopper Knot

7. Now, add a Stopper Knot. Loop under and through (picture 7).

8. Move the end of the rope to the left (picture 8).

9. Loop again (picture 9).

10. Pull the end of the rope through the two loops that were just created (picture 10). Follow the arrows in picture 10.

11. Tighten everything down. This is what the final knot should look like (picture 11).

I know it is complicated but this is the hardest part of this project. Congratuations, it is easier from here!

Step 3: Attaching the Rope to the Chair.

Now that you are a master at tying knots, the next step is to attach it to the chair.
The best place to tie the rope to the chair is the rod connecting the seat to the sides. (see the second picture). There should be a similar location on most other lawn chairs. This spot provides stability and holds the weight at a load bearing point.

1. When attaching the rope to the chair, measure 33 inches (84 cm) from the end of the rope. You can use the same 33 inches (84 cm) you measured in step 2 (picture 3).

2. Now start the Bowline Knot, but only the first step (picture 4). The end of your rope will be laced through the chair in the next step.

3. Lace the 33 inch (84 cm) end of the rope under and over the side of chair, then over the rod (picture 5).

4. Pull it up on the other side (picture 6). Doing this keeps the knot from moving while adding more support.

5. Now finish tying the Bowline Knot (picture 7, 8).

6. Tie the Stopper Knot (picture 9). Also leave a couple of inches of extra rope hanging off the end for safety.

Step 4: Measuring.

From the knot measure 4 feet 6 inches (1.37 meters) and mark it. Repeat this process from the mark that was just made.

So there should be 2 new marks total. One 4 feet 6 inches (1.37 meters) away from the knot. The second one should be 4 feet 6 inches (1.37 meters) away from the first mark. The first mark is the middle and line the second one up with right side of the chair as pictured.

Step 5: Attach Rope to the Right Side.

1. Notice the rod that connects the two bars. Loop the rope under to the other side (pictures 1 and 2).

2. Create an Overhand Knot (see picture 3).

3. Now start wrapping the bar with the rope (picture 4). Since this chair makes it easy to feed the rope through, I fed it in between the rope that holds the seat in place. Your lawn chair may not have this so I recommend at least five wraps.

4. Wrap it to the back of the chair, keeping it as tight as you can (see pictures 5, 6, 7).

On this particular lawn chair there are clips that keeps the chair from folding up when sitting in it. This feature, though a good one for its original purpose, makes it hard to tie the rope at the back corners. This next part may not be necessary to follow for other lawn chairs so do not be afraid to adapt this next part for your own needs.

5. Create another Overhand Knot and pull the end of the rope through the back of the chair (picture 8, 9, 10).

6. Loop the rope around the back bar and pull it through the Overhand Knot (picture 11).

Step 6: Measuring a Second Time.

This step is the same as Step 4.

From the knot measure 4 feet 6 inches (1.37 meters) and mark it. Repeat this process from the mark that was just made.

So there should be 2 new marks total. One 4 feet 6 inches (1.37 meters) away from the knot. The second one should be 4 feet 6 inches (1.37 meters) away from the first mark. The first mark is the middle and line the second one up with right side of the chair as pictured.

Step 7: Attach the Rope to the Back Left Corner.

In this step attach the rope to the chair like at the end of Step 5 but also add a Bowline Knot to it. Do not add the stopper Knot yet.

1. Create the first loop for the Bowline Knot (picture 1).

2. Loop the rope in front of the connecting rod (picture 2).

3. Create an Overhand Knot and pull the rope through the back (picture 3).

4. Loop the rope around the back bar and through the Overhand Knot (picture 4).

5. Finish the Bowline Knot but do not add a Stopper Knot yet (picture 6, 7, 8).

Step 8: Balancing.

For this step, you want to make sure the length of the two ropes running from left to right is the same. The mid-point marks may not line up in the middle (picture 1) but it is not a problem, just find the true middle.

Both of the ropes should be close to even but if they are not, adjust the back rope to the front one by putting in or taking out slack in the back left corner (the one without the Stopper Knot).

When the two ropes are even, lift the entire chair at the true mid-point. The chair should lift evenly, all 4 corners at the same time. If it does not, then adjust accordingly (by adjusting the back left knot). It does not need to be perfectly even (and never will be) but it should be relatively close.

Once everything is even, tie an Overhand Knot with the true middle as the loop (pictures 4, 5, 6, 7). This loop will connect the chair to the hoisting rope and brake via a Quick Link.

Again lift up the chair from the newly made loop and check if everything is even. If uneven it can be adjusted in the Overhand Knot. Pull it tight.

Now the Stopper Knot can be tied on the back left corner Bowline Knot (not pictured).

Step 9: Cutting the Rope.

In this step, we will be cutting and finishing the rope at the back, left corner of the chair. But first, you may want to practice on an extra piece of rope by following the instructions below.

I do not have one of those fancy rope cutter/melter thingies so I created a method of doing it.

1. Cut a piece of aluminum foil that is about an inch (2.5 cm) wide and a couple of inches long (5 cm), enough to wrap around the rope once or twice (picture 1).

2. Wrap the foil around the rope with the middle where you want the cut (picture 2).

3. Wrap the foil with electrical tape. Overlap the tape so that it sicks to the rope (picture 3).

4. Cut. Of course a sharp blade produces a cleaner cut. Cut the rope with something under it (something you do not care about) so you can add pressure (picture 5).

5. Melt the nylon rope with a lighter. Take it slow, make sure all of the strands are melted so it does not come unraveled (picture 6).

6. Take the tape and foil off. As you see, the foil keeps the electrical tape from melting to the rope when heat is applied.

Apply these instruction to the back, left corner rope, leaving roughly a foot (30.5 cm) of rope free for adjustments that may need to be done later.

The rope for the chair is now complete.

Step 10: The Brake.

Now it is time to create the brake. This is more of a holder so when you are tired, or if you want to just hang out, hook it to the rope.

1. Measure and cut about 5 feet (1.5 m) of rope (picture 2).

2. Thread the rope through the eye of the Eye Grab Hook (picture 3).

3. Add a Stopper Knot to one end of the rope and thread the other end through (picture 4).

4. Add another Stopper Knot to the other side of the rope (picture 5).

5. Pull the knots together; leave about an inch and a half (3.8 cm) of extra rope and tighten (picture 6).

Step 11: Finish the Brake.

Since the extra rope is so short add twine to hold it in place.

1. Measure about 18 inches (45.7 cm), do not cut it yet (picture 1).

2. Loop the twine as shown in the picture 2.

3. Wrap the twine around itself (picture 3).

4. Continue wrapping the twine toward the Stopper Knot. Make it as tight as possible (picture 4, 5).

5. Put the end of the twine through the loop (picture 6).

6. Pull the other side of the twine to close the loop (picture 7).

7. Pull really hard to bring the loop under the wrap (picture 8).

8. About 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the wrapped twine, melt the twine then cut in the middle of the melted area (picture 9). Yes....melt, then cut.

9. Do the same on the other side of the twine (picture 10).

10. Repeat for the other rope end (picture 11).

11. Add a Overhand Knot above the Grab Eye Hook (picture 12).

12. Move the two Stopper Knots down near the Overhand Knot (picture 13) by feeding rope through the Overhand Knot so that it brings down the Stopper Knots. This may take a couple of adjustments. This adjusts the brake so that weight is not bearing on the Stopper Knots.

Step 12: The Hoisting Rope.

Almost there. Now it is time to bust out the rest of the rope. The hoisting rope is the rope that attaches to the chair, over the branch and back down. So the length of the rope has to be at least double the height of the branch to the ground. For example, if the branch was 10 feet (3.04 m) off the ground then 20 feet (6.09 m) would be needed at the minimum.

As you see in the diagram below, there are knots tied in the hoisting rope. The spacing depends on your preference but I would recommend staying in the range of 12 - 18 inches (30.5 - 45.7 cm). Start out with a knot at 12 inch (30.5 cm) increments and customize it later when you have a feel for it.

Keep in mind if you buy 50 feet (15.2 m) of rope that will not equal 50 feet (15.2 m) of hoisting rope. Each knot is a Stopper Knot and it takes 9 inches (23 cm) of rope to tie.

20 feet (6.09 m) of hoisting rope = 240 inches (609 cm)
12 inches (30.5 cm) of hoisting rope = 21 inches (53.3 cm) of regular rope
240 inches (609 cm) / 12 inches (30.5 cm) = 20
20 * 21 inches (53.3 cm) = 420 inches (1066.8 cm)
420 inches (1066.8 cm) = 35 feet (10.66 m)

So, to get 20 feet (6.09 m) of hoisting rope with a knot at every foot, you need to buy 35 feet (10.66 m) of regular rope. I am sure there is an easier way to get the numbers but this is how I did it.

1. Measure 12 inches (30.5 cm) and mark it (picture 1).

2. From that mark, go 9 inches (23 cm) and mark.

3. Keep repeating until you have marked the entire rope.

4. Add a Stopper Knot in between the 9 inch (23 cm) marks (picture 2).

5. Add a Bowline with a Stopper Knot at the end of the rope (picture 3).

6. Attach the Quick Link to the Bowline (picture 4). Now you can also attach the brake and chair to the Quick Link also.

Step 13: Now for the Fun Part.

1. Find a tree!

2. Throw the hoist rope over a horizontal branch. (Choose a sturdy branch!)

3. Attach the hoist rope, the brake, and the chair with the quick link. (picture 2)

4. Sit in chair.

5. Pull your body up the hoist rope. As you pull you lift your body and the chair will follow with you. Sorry I do not have any action shots. It was just me out there.

6. To apply the brake, attach the Eye Grab Hook above one of the Stopper Knots. Slowly lower yourself down and the hook will catch on the knot. (picture 4)

7. To unbrake, lift yourself up, unhook the Eye Grab Hook and you are now free to go higher or come down.

That is basically it. If you are still unclear look at the pictures below.

Remember to check the knots and rope before climbing. Also tighten the Quick Link. Be safe and have fun.

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    40 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    When the chair is up there, did you hoist the table 1st or do you pull it up after ??…
    Question is important as I guess that you will agree on the two following points :
    1) a chair is not an armchair ; it is not meant to rest but to sit at a table and possibly do some work ;
    2) I'm sure you didn't go into this painful useless knots (*) conceptions without having an idea of what you'll do in that tree.

    (*) perfectly useless knots : 3 or 4 well made knots that one is able to tie and untie in any condition (numb hands or with one hand only, by night with no vision at all, done fast even in any position, etc…) are worth all the knots done by the book which give only a useless step by step instead of the true movement of the rope in one's hands.

    More seriously I think that instructables as yours with knots so complicated as you show is downright dangerous as some will most certainly be badly done…

    sorry for being so critical about your inst as you took great pain to post it but that's really what I feel about it.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    reading through this whole page, i haven't seen anyone mention mechanical advantage (maybe i wasn't looking hard enough). If you use a compound pulley system, you could make it way easier to pull yourself up, even if you have to pull more rope. just a thought!


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome danger factor, though. I used to have a zip line i made in my backyard with polyprop rope, a cheap pulley, and a chunk of wood, i don't know which is more dangerous between the two, but danger = adrenaline = fun!


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    danger = adrenaline = fun for you maybe
    encouraging others to do something dangerous = irresponsible for me


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    if ur stupid enough to do it (like me) u can do what kretzlord suggested (or if u want to look cool) and not be a safety freak so leave him alone


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I hate to poop on everyone's party, but this can tear the bark off the tree branch, esp. if the bark is flaky and crumbly. If you make something like this, then you are good to go.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    As quite a few people have mentioned before static rope, sometimes called abseil rope, would definately be the way to go here. Its massively strong, streched very little and most importantly is sheathed. If a rope is running over a rough surface under load, the individual fibres start to break one by one. Sheathed ropes are surrounded by what is essentially a very durable tube, which increases their wear massively. Its really not that expensive because it can be bough by the metre. It is however not very easy to bend or tie knots in, so a less durable rope would probably suffice for the chair attachment system.

    A small point would be not to suggest to people to use bowlines. They are extremely strong knots when tied correctly, but it is very difficult for the average person to tell just by looking at it whether it has been tied correctly. Also under load and without a stopper knot they can very easily untie themselves. A much safer alternative to suggest would be a re-tied figure of eight. It is easier to identify, easier to tie and just as strong.

    Finally an altogether better way of temporarily halting the ascent or descent would be to use a prusik knot, the French prusik would be best but the standard one works almost as well. It would take a lot of adjustment on the design: lower attachment point on the chair, removal of knots from rope, the purchase of a karabiner (as little as $5) and finally the purchase of 1m(ish) of 5mm static climbing cord.

    Dont mean to rubbish the idea, but to keep it safe it needs some changes. Have a look at climbing and specifically 'aid climbing' techniques on the internet for ideas. [ This] is a good start, albeit a little full on.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Under a load is exactly when a bowline knot does not untie itelf.  It is when a load is absent that the knot comes untied.  The author can attest to the safe working of the device.  It is not as though it is theoretical.


    10 years ago on Introduction

     so your some kind of super strong guy right? its hard to pull yourself up in this configuration


    12 years ago on Introduction

    I like to try to be positive with comments but these might possibly come across as less that positive. Are you freakin crazy? Ahem. First of all, even if you had 10,000 pound test rope, your center of mass (or center of gravity) is above the center of lift thus leaving you with an unstable situation. If you were belted into the chair with a 5-point hitch, I could give you a pass on this as a wild carnival ride, but as it, this thing is dangerous (which I'm sure the added danger is a + for many readers). The saving grace is that NORMALLY, the center of mass is well within the center of lift. But because of the relatively narrow lift points and the relatively large freedom of motion of the rider, it could happen that the center of gravity could travel beyond the lift points and topple the rider and chair. In other words, I want to see either a lift point above the center of gravity and/or outriggers on the chair. Not only would I not use this chair higher than I was willing to fall, I would not use one higher than I was willing to spin over and whack my head on the ground. And if you're a slouchy sitter, maybe this isn't the hobby for you. Secondly, why in the world did you choose polyprop rope? The only advantage it has in life is that it floats, so (1) you can find your water ski rope when you drop it and (2) your anchor line might not get caught in bottom trash. Otherwise it has almost no UV tolerance, stretches wildly, doesn't like to be knotted, and breaks easily. Nylon rope is not a good alternative due to 200% - 400% stretch possibilities, but you can find inexpensive polyester rope that does not stretch and has much better properties than polyprop. If you have to make one of these, please use a better rope. If you don't want to use rock climber's rope, visit a marine supply and ask to see a non-stretch rope. They might point you to a zero-stretch Kevlar, but you don't need that. Any polyester (Dacron is one brand name) will do. A little bit of stretch is better than 200% - 400% stretch I've gotten out of nylon.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction


    Wow... This comment is late...


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah dchall8 is right this looks quite dangerous, the rope is terrible and it looks like that chair could flip over at any time. This is like that guy that tried to fly by attaching all those weather balloons to his lawn chair. Your weight distribution causes way too many problems for it to be safe, you know what would work better and simpler though is: A good rope (I have plenty of rock climbing rope that would work well) with a noose tied at one end. Then you throw the other end over the lowest branch of the tree you want to climb, if you just can't seem to throw it high enough tie a weight to that end of the rope and then throw it. The weight will help you to throw the rope farther and with more accuracy. Nothing too heavy though! Then once your rope is secured over the lowest branch with both ends touching the ground you put one foot IN the noose, standing on the rope and pull the other end of the rope DOWN to lift your end UP. Naturally this wouldn't be good for sitting below the branch but it would get you to it. And if you wanted to just dangle beneath the branch make yourself a harness out of the rope and something you could tie the rope off to on the trunk of the tree. I suggest you wear gloves and a helmet for this for fear of rope burn or falling. Also if anyone should try this I'm not responsible for what you or anyone else does with this information should you incur damage to yourself, anyone or anything else I am not responsible. :)


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    its balanced on four ropes as you see on the picture so it wont tip over

    Your Average Guy
    Your Average Guy

    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    to sit in it , though my buddies and i do this alot, you can just always turn your foot sideways and sit on your foot with the rope between your legs.
    <(.<) <(.)> (>.)>