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How to Make a Wooden Folding Chair

There is always a need for extra chairs when friends visit your home. If you have a party, you will need extra chairs for your guests. Buying chairs can be an expensive proposition. Make some wooden folding chairs yourself and always have extras on hand when needed. You can make director’s chairs that match your décor by selecting the type of wood used and the color and design for the seats and backs.

Cut the Chair Legs

When you need extra chairs, make a folding director's chair.

Step 1

Use a table saw to cut the four legs. The legs should be 1 inch thick, 2 inches wide and 24 3/4 inches long.

Step 2

Drill a 3/4-inch hole in the center of the top end of each leg. This will allow for the placement of a dowel.

Step 3

Drill holes for the footrest 5 inches up from the bottom of each leg. The 3/4-inch holes must be drilled 1 inch deep.

Step 4

Measure 13 inches from the bottom of each leg and drill a 3/8-inch hole through each leg for the pivot pin.

Step 5

Mark two legs 5 inches from the top end and drill a 1/4-inch hole for the knife hinge. These legs will be on the outside.

Step 6

Use the table saw to taper both ends of each leg from the 2-inch middle width to 1 3/8 inch at each end. Begin the taper 8 inches from each end of the leg.

Step 7

Use the table saw to cut a small 45-degree bevel on the bottom of the legs. This will level the chairs when they are completed.

Step 8

Sand all the long edges on the legs to round the sharp corners.

Make the Seats

Step 1

Cut the sides for the seat from the 2-inch-by-3-inch boards. Set the table saw to make the sides 2 1/4 inches wide by 1 3/8 inches thick and 14 3/8 inches long. You will need two of these sides.

Step 2

Drill the holes that will secure the legs to the seat. The holes are located 3 1/4 inches from the ends of one side on the bottom of the wood. Drill 3/4-inch holes 1 inch deep into the seat side. Dowels will connect the legs to the seat.

Step 3

Repeat with the other seat side but locating the holes 1 3/4 inches from the ends. Drill these 3/4-inch holes into the bottom side of the seat side, drilled 1 inch deep.

Step 4

Mark each side piece to cut a beveled edge with the table saw. Mark the cut on the top side of the seat sides. Make the bevel 45 degrees and cut from one corner across the side. The resulting side will measure 1 3/8 inches thick by 1 1/4 inches on the top of the side and 2 1/4 inches on the bottom of the side.

Step 5

Use a router to cut a notch 5/16 inch deep by 3/4 inch wide on the bottom side of the two seat sides. You may need to make multiple passes to achieve these dimensions.

Make the Foot and Armrests

Step 1

Cut two 7-inch-long, 3/4-inch dowels to support the armrests.

Step 2

Form the armrest bases by cutting down the 2-inch-by-3-inch lumber. The dimensions of the armrest are 1 1/4 inches thick by 1 11/16 inches wide by 15 3/8 inches long. Make two bases, one for each side.

Step 3

Drill the holes for the dowels that will secure support the arm rests. The holes are 1 3/8 inches from each end. Drill 3/4-inch holes 1 inch deep.

Step 4

Use the sandpaper to round the edges of the armrest base on the top side only.

Step 5

Use the table saw to cut the armrests measuring 1 inch thick by 2 1/4 inches wide by 15 inches long.

Step 6

Mark the center of the back of the armrests. Drill a 3/4-inch hole 1 inch deep. This will support the back of the armrest in the back supports using a dowel.

Step 7

Use sandpaper to round all the long edges on the armrest.

Cut the Back Support and Make Seats

Step 1

Cut two pieces, 1 inch thick by 1 3/8 inches wide by 15 1/4 inches long, to serve as back supports. Drill a 3/4-inch hole 1 inch deep in the bottom of each of the back supports.

Step 2

Drill a 3/4-inch hole in the front of the back support 1/2 inch deep. Locate the hole 6 7/16 inches from the bottom of the support.

Step 3

Round all the long edges on the back supports using sandpaper. If you have the tools, you can turn these supports on a lathe. If you use a lathe, do not turn the diameter smaller than 1 inch.

Step 4

Make the pivot pin spacers by cutting two 7/16-inch pieces of the 3/4-inch dowel. Drill a 3/8-inch hole through the center of each of the spacers.

Step 5

Make two fabric support pieces. Their dimensions are 1/4 inch thick by 5/8 inch wide and 14 1/2 inches long.

Step 6

Cut the fabric for the chair back and chair seat. Sew these to form finished pieces. The seat is 15 inches by 22 inches, with 1-inch sleeves on each side. The backs are 7 inches by 21 1/2 inches with 2 1/4-inch sleeves on each side.

Assembly

Step 1

Cut two 1 1/2-inch dowels pieces and glue the back of the armrests to the back supports. Cut two 2-inch dowels to glue the armrest bases to the back supports.

Step 2

Place a 7-inch dowel between each armrest base and armrest to support the armrest. Glue them in place using wood glue.

Step 3

Connect the leg to the seat sides by gluing a 2 1/2-inch dowel between them. Apply glue to the footrests and connect each set of legs together.

Step 4

Apply clamps to all the connections to secure them and wait for them to dry.

Step 5

Put a 3/8-inch lag bolt through the outer legs with the head facing outward. Put a washer on the bolt and then tighten the nut to set the head of the lag bolt in the wood. Remove the lag bolt and position the inner leg behind the outer legs. Put the bolt back in the outer leg, insert a spacer, pass the bolt through the inner leg and then place the washer and nut on the assembly and tighten down. Repeat the process with the back legs.

Step 6

Affix the locking knife support to the inside of the outer legs using a flat washer between the support and the leg. Make sure the knife support fold up. Position the support so that the distance between the two armrest bases, measured from outer edge to outer edge, is exactly 21 1/4 inches.

Step 7

Clean up the bolts by cutting them off at the end of the nut. File or grind the end so that it is smooth.

Step 8

Sand the chair and stain the wood to match your décor and then allow the stain to dry. When dry, spray varnish over the wooden parts.

Step 9

Measure 2 1/2 inches from the end of the armrest base and mount the offset hinges.

Step 10

Apply silicone caulking to the nuts and bolts to protect them. Insert the fabric supports in the seats and slide them on the chair under the armrest base. Slide the back over the back supports and have a seat.

Things You Will Need

  • 6 feet of 2-inch-by-3-inch lumber
  • Table saw
  • Drill
  • 3/4-inch drill bit
  • 3/8-inch drill bit
  • 1/4-inch drill bit
  • 2 hardwood dowels, 3/4 inch
  • Sandpaper, various grits
  • 1/2 yard heavy canvas
  • Heavy duty thread
  • Wood glue
  • 4 lag bolts,1/4 inch by 2 inches long, with washers and self-locking nuts
  • 2 lag bolts, 3/8 inch by 3 inches long, with washers and self-locking nuts
  • 4 heavy offset hinges
  • 2 locking supports, 9 inch
  • Wood stain
  • Varnish
  • Silicone caulking
  • Lathe (optional)
  • Clamps
  • Bolt cutter

Tip

  • Wipe any excess glue from a joint or connection right after you put the pieces together so that it doesn’t dry. The excess glue will prevent stain from soaking in and will look bad.

About the Author

Sean Lancaster has been a freelance writer since 2007. He has written for Writers Research Group, Alexis Writing and the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce. Lancaster holds a Doctor of Philosophy in chemistry from the University of Washington.

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