Essential Wood Outdoor Chair Frame for Standard Chair Cushion

ana white outdoor chair plans
Difficulty
Beginner
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Build your own outdoor chairs using free plans from Ana-White.com - step by step diagrams, shopping and cut lists, and video tutorial.

Related: Essential Outdoor Chair in Deep Seat Cushion Size Plans

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Essential Wood Outdoor Chair Frame for Standard Chair Cushion

  • This is a very comfortable, sturdy chair made of 2x4s, that can be stained or painted. 
  • It is an easy to build design suitable for beginners. 
  • This chair is designed to fit standard 20" x 20" seat cushions, with optional back pillows. 
  • The arm rests are generous and comfortable, and yes, will hold your drink!
  • It's heavy enough to not blow over in the wind, but light enough to easily move around. 
  • This is one of my favorite chair plans.

Videos of Building this Chair

See it happen - Watch this chair being built in my build video:

BONUS: Watch the sister video with more detailed how-to information:

FAQ for this Outdoor Chair Plan

Where did you get your cushions?  Lowes, here's the link.

Can I use other size cushions?  Yes, if the cushion is close to 20" x 20" for the seat, and 24" tall for the back, it is very easy to adjust the plans.  If you have a "deep seat" cushion (about 24" x 24" x 4-5" thick) use the deep seat chair frame plans here.

Do I need a back cushion?  No, you can add additional back boards and not use a back cushion, or use a throw pillow for the back.

Is this suitable for use as a dining chair?  Possibly - but the chairs are heavier than a dining chair should be, so not super easy to move back and forth. Id' more use these around a firepit or with a accent table in between.

What type of wood should I use?  Any 2x4 will work, cedar is the best option but will be expensive.  Framing lumber works, just make sure you apply a good outdoor finish and keep up with the finishing.

What type of finish should I use?  Any finish that is suitable for fences, decks or outdoor trim or doors is good.  I do NOT recommend a "film former" as this may crack and peel as wood expands and contracts, instead use an opaque stain.  Avoid also polys that are film formers, instead use an exterior transparent or semi-transparent stain.  Water based is fine.

Can I use these chairs inside?  YES!!!  We'd love to see these chairs used inside, bring on the fluffy pillows!

Free Plans to Build this Chair

Ready to build yourself?  The free plans for this chair follow.  Please share a photo if you build, we love seeing how your projects turn out!

Dimensions
outdoor chair frame dimensions
Dimensions shown in diagram. Uses with cushion measuring 20" x 20" x 2-1/2" (seat) and back is 20" x 24".

Preparation

Shopping List
  • 4 - 2x4 @ 8 feet long
  • 1 - 2x2 @ 20" long
  • 50 - 2-1/2" to 3" long - self tapping star bit screws for exterior use
  • outdoor appropriate stain 
  • standard seat cushions (I used these from Lowes)
Cut List

4 - 2x4 @ 21-1/2" - legs

2 - 2x4 @30-3/8" - arm rests

2 - 2x4 @ 27-1/2" both ends cut at 5 degrees off square, long point to short point measurement, ends ARE parallel

5 - 2x4 @ 20" - or width of seat cushions

2 - 2x4 @ 26" - back - can be modified to match the height of seat back cushion

1 - 2x2 @ 20" - back top - matches the width of the seat cushions

Cutting Instructions

Cut the longest boards first to make sure all the pieces fit on your boards.

For the angle cuts, set miter saw to 5 degrees off square, and cut so the ends are parallel, and the measurement is long point to short point.

Tools
Tape Measure
Pencil
Kreg Jig
Drill
Miter Saw
Power Sander

Instructions

Step 1

Assemble one arm by attaching the armrest to two legs.

Then measure out the placement of the seat stringer and attach to the legs. 

Use two screws per each joint.

Step 2

The second arm frame needs to be built identical to the first, but in mirror.  The easiest way is to build right on top of the first arm frame, with the seat stringers matched up.

Step 3

Chair front - with the chair sides positioned so the seat stringer high side is down, place some blocking on the work surface and attach one of the 2x4 @ 20" to the seat stringers.  Use two screws per joint.

Step 4

Rotate the chair and add the seat slats.

I recommend adding the back slat first, measured out for your seat cushions - 21-1/2" was good for my cushions even though the cushions are 20" - because I was accounting for the back cushion and the depth created by folding the cushion at the back seam. 

Once you have the back slat placed, the two center slats are just placed with even spacing (you can eyeball this).

Two screws per joint.

Step 5

For the back piece, the easiest way to attach is with a Kreg Jig.  

Set for 1-1/2" thick materials, and drill two pocket holes on each end.  Attach with 2-1/2" long screws (yes you can use the star bit screws, but the Kreg Screws are preferred).

Step 6

If using a different size cushion, place the cushion in the chair frame now, and measure and cut the back supports to fit your cushions.  Remember that a 2x2 that is 1-1/2" wide will be added to the top in the next step.

Position the back rest pieces and attach in three points - to the sides, the back rest and the back slats.  These back rest pieces add considerable strength to the chair.

Step 7

Add the 2x2 on the top with two screws per joint.

Step 8

For no back, or back cushions needed extra support, additional back slats can be easily added.

Comments - Click to Display Comments

Comments

pattiemelt

Thu, 08/04/2022 - 21:02

WOW!!! With all the ads on your page, it's really hard to tell what's part of the chair information and what's trying to sell you something you don't want - I counted 18 ads for 'Print PDF' alone, and there were at least that many ads for other things. I understand that sponsors pay to keep your website up, but when the ads look like part of your plans, or something necessary to get to your plans, it's time to reconsider.

MFlores

Sun, 09/04/2022 - 11:06

I'm not sure what your talking about. I have been on her youtube and website for years and have never had a problem. Maybe you need a better browser. You comment was in no way constructive or helpful to the woodworking community. It sounded like a me me me rant. I'm sorry that free plans and videos for all the woodworking DIY persons out there are such an inconvenience. If I sound defensive. I am. When needed help starting diy projects I relied on Steve Ramsey and was watching Ana White when she was doing a spot on his youtube channel. So I encourage you to be constructive for the benefit to the community and not just whine about some first world problem that can be solved by using a better browser or add blocker. Your comment on a different website or starting helpful woodworker like Ana White could have been very discouraging. Lucky I know she will take your comments in strides and will continue to bring us amazing FREE plans and videos.

MFlores

Sun, 09/04/2022 - 12:42

It literally has in the upper right corner of all her projects. The difficulty level then IN RED two buttons one with a picture of a printer (Which means if you want to print it.) and the other with a picture of a document with PDF in the middle (which means you can download the plans into a PDF.) I hope this helps.