Classic Chairs Made Simple

Submitted by Ana White on Sun, 01/23/2011 - 18:42
Difficulty
Beginner
| Print this plan

Simple chairs with an upholstered seat. Comfortable and oversized with base supports.

It's not that I didn't believe in you.  Because on a daily - sometimes hourly- basis, you blow me away with your capabilities.

But I've resisted putting simple chair plans up because cutting back legs can be such a challenge.  And while many of you have the skills, tools and abilities to make complicated cuts, I take great measures to simplify any design, and every effort to consider the most beginner skill sets, tiniest budgets, and the limited tools of the rest of us.

I will cut anything with a compound miter saw.  I even cut that cushion foam with one (not advisable).  But ask me to cut without it?  I'll admit, it's not my favorite task.  Because when you cut with a handheld saw, the results are not as precise and smooth as with a miter saw.  Especially with 1 1/2" thick stock.  But I'm so proud to tell you that these chair legs were cut by me, on the very first time, with a handheld saw.

And I couldn't be more pleased with the end result.

While those back legs may appear to curve, it's actually a straight cut with a circular saw, so no funny beveling and rough edges, telltale signs of a jigsaw blade.  I did have to complete the cuts with a jigsaw, and then sanded the back legs with coarse sandpaper, but it really wasn't a ton of work.  We are talking about an hour to build this chair.

And who can't use a classic chair?  The padded seat was actually an afterthought, but a super simple modification that I will walk you through in the plan below.

And this photo may help someone conceptualizing the chair better, so I thought I would post.  I used pocket hole screws (highly recommended so you don't end up splitting your legs and a stronger joint) and inset the aprons slightly on the legs to point the pocket hole screws directly into the meat of the legs.  Also I highly recommend adding corner braces or chair braces (metal) to the corners for added stability.  I attached the cushion with pocket holes predrilled in the top edges of the inside of the aprons, with a 1" screw.

Dimensions
Dimensions are shown above. This is a BIG chair . . . just a little warning. You can easily modify the size by simply cutting the aprons to a smaller size.

Preparation

Shopping List

1×6 @ 3 feet long
1 – 2×2 @ 8 feet long
1 – 1×4 @6 feet long
1 – 1×2 @ 8 feet long
1 – 2×4 @ stud or 8 feet length
1 – 1/2″ scrap plywood for seat top, 19″ x 19″
1 yard of fabric
1 piece of foam, 19″ x 19″ 1″ thick
3/8″ staples
1 1/4″ pocket hole screws

Cut List

2 – 2×4 @ 38 1/4″ (Chair back legs)
2 – 1×4 @ 17 1/2″ (Side Aprons)
2 – 2×2 @ 17 1/4″ (Front Legs)
2 – 1×4 @ 16″ (Front/Back Aprons)
4 – 2×2 @ 4″ (Supports – both ends cut at 45 degrees off square, NOT parallel to each other)
1 – 1×2 @ 16″ (Seat Back Top)
2 – 1×6 @ 16″ (Seat Back)
2 – 1×2 @ 19″ (Longest point, one end cut at 8 degrees off square)
1 – 1×2 @ 16 3/4″ (Center Support)
1/2″ plywood @ 19″ x 19″ (Seat top)

Tools
Tape Measure
Speed Square
Pencil
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Drill
Circular Saw
Jigsaw
Power Sander
Level
Drill Bit Set

Instructions

Step 1

Back Legs

If you follow these steps carefully, you can cut back legs that are straight and symmetrically to each other. Mark the legs as shown in the diagram. The front – where the chair leg connects to the side aprons – needs to be cut in 1/4″ to account for rounded edges on 2x4s. The goal is to make as many cuts as possible with a circular saw, but you will need to finish inside cuts on the back with a jigsaw. Follow the diagram above carefully. I advise taking the scrap piece of 2×4 and cutting a leg first from it to get some practice. Once your legs are cut, lay them together, and check to make sure that the top, bottom and front sides all match. The other parts are not as significant. Sand your cuts smooth.

Step 2

Side Aprons

Attach the side aprons to the back legs, flush to the bottom of the front cuts on your chair back legs. Make sure the two leg pieces still match up – if not, your chair is going to be crooked!

Step 3

Front Legs

Attach the front legs to the side aprons as shown above. The tops are flush, and your chair part should match up at this point.

Step 4

Front/Back Aprons

Attach the front and back aprons, carefully predrilling. I used pocket hole screws and glue. Top is flush.

Step 5

Step 6

Seat Back Top

Attach the seat back top as shown above.

Step 7

Seat back

I used pocket holes from the back but you can also use predrilled screws from the legs. Attach as shown above.

Step 8

Base Support

The base supports will add considerable strength to your chairs. Attach as shown above.

Step 9

Base Center

Attach the base center to the sides as shown in the diagram above.

Step 10

Seat

Spray glue the seat cushion to the seat top plywood. Lay fabric facedown on table with seat top on top of fabric, foam side down. Staple fabric carefully to the underside of the chair, tucking corners neatly. Use 2″ screws to attach the seat to the cross supports or use pocket hole screws.

Step 11

This chair was painted with Valspar Antique White in Flat Enamel, three coats. A top coat (Valspar satin finish poly) was added. The fabric is from Joanns, and is part of the Home Decorator’s 45″ wide fabric, and was on sale for $5 a yard. For a foam pad, I used a discarded chair pad cut to size. Total cost of this chair was under $20.

Help Improve This Plan

We apologize if there was an error in this plan. Please help us out and report any errors here.

Comments

Gerri (not verified)

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 18:57

Ana, has anyone ever told you how much YOU ROCK?!? of course they have, but I'm here to tell you again. ;)

I've been wanting to ask for a chair similar to this, but with all of the website struggles lately, I wanted to wait til you were a little less occupied. But look, you read my mind-woo hoo!!

One question-I would really like to make the seat out of boards running front to back (2x4maybe?) would you mind offering suggestions on how to do that?

Thank you so much again! You have really changed my thought process on furnishing my home. :)

Jess (not verified)

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 19:22

These are great! I was wondering how long it traditionally took you to post a brag blog submission. I submitted it on Friday and i am really excited to share my build with the world. Thank you so much for your inspiration and giving my husband something we can do together.

Sophie (not verified)

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 03:27

Yesterday I was looking at a photo in Coastal Living magazine, where some simple chairs very much like this had been custom built for a room - and wondering aloud if I could design some like them. I don't have a miter saw - only a circular saw or a handsaw when I want to be more precise...
Ana, now I am convinced you are writing this just for me ;-)
Can't wait to get started on these!!

Tasha (not verified)

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 05:29

I really like it! I've been wanting a simple chair. We built the lap desk for a Christmas present for a brother and the chalk board for my son for Christmas. I truly enjoy your plans and love seeing your new designs everyday. With four month and cold garage, I can't build now, but am hoping to do so when the weather warms up. Thank you.

Bonnie (not verified)

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 07:04

Ana, what a GREAT chair! I have one almost like it that I have done in Sketchup. Your other chairs are wonderful, but as most of the people in my family are on the hefty side, and I needed one with more size and structural supports. I am despirately in need of everyday kitchen chairs. So I also put the cross members for the legs on the bottom, and the corner braces under the seat. I have been however, trying to decide what material to make it from when i get to that point. Like I said, as my family members are on the heafty side, I have seriously been considering using a good quality plywood. Making my own 2x4's by cutting 2x4 sized pieces of 3/4 ply, then gluing the together for the legs. Then making the cuts for the back legs / back of the chair. Ply is SO strong! And as I will probably paint the chairs not stain them, plus with some thorough sanding, the ply layers would prob not show anyway. I know that cutting all those pieces will be a lot of work, plus I am adding additional cost to the chairs by using a good quality ply, but thats ok. I have a straight edge that allows me to make pretty precise straight cuts on plywood with a circular saw. Thanks again for that wonderful chair!!