Wood Folding Sling Chair, Deck Chair or Beach Chair - Adult Size

Submitted by Ana White on Fri, 06/03/2011 - 12:10
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Folding adult sized wood sling chair, also known as wood beach chairs or deck chairs. Folds flat for storage, opens up for easy relaxation! Adjusts to three positions for customized reclining. Features removable slings.

Child sized plans also available.

I know this chair has been a long time coming . . . it's also been a long time in the making. When you first started requesting a sling chair (also known as wood beach chairs or folding deck chairs) I knew it was definitely a project I wanted to tackle. I just didn't know it would take me four prototypes to finally be able to put this seal on it . . .

And believe it or not . . . it's still not done.  The stain is still a little tacky - thus the slings are pulled tight, and I couldn't find a single volunteer to test it out in a photo.
But I promise, this one is super comfy.  If you've ever sat in a sling chair, all you have to do is close your eyes and you are at the beach.  The way the sling works, you almost feel weightless.
This chair costs and estimated $25 to build.  The best deal I've found on outdoor canvas fabric, 54" wide is $8.98 per yard, for designer brands from Fabric.com...and they have Free Return Shipping too! 
Slings are reversible.  For light colored fabrics with high contrast prints, you may consider lining the slings with canvas duck fabric. 
I used Minwax Gel Stain for this chair frame for a rich even stain.  The strength and durability of this chair is highly Dependant on what type of materials you use and how you build your chair.  As shown and built by me, the Ram (200LBS + and six feet tall) approved of the design and the size.  Your chair could differ depending on the types of materials you use and the building techniques you use.
Dimensions are shown above.


Shopping List

1 - 6' 1/2" Diameter Wood Dowel
1 1/2 Yards Outdoor Fabric, 54" wide
Sewing Notions and Thread
1 - 1x3 @ 48" long
4 - 1x2 @ 8 feet long
4 - 1/4" diameter bolts, 2" long with matching nuts
12 - washers to fit bolts

Common Materials
2 inch screws
120 grit sandpaper
wood conditioner
paint brush
Cut List

Backrest Frame
2 - 1x2 @ 48"
1 - 1x2 @ 24"
1 - 1x2 @ 25 1/2"
1 - 1x3 @ 24"

Seat Frame
2 - 1x2 @ 44"
4 - 1x2 @ 23 3/4"
1 - 1x2 @ 22 1/4"
1 - 1x3 @ 22 1/4"

Prop-Up Support
2 - 1x2 @ 15"
1 - 1/2" Diameter Wood Dowel @ 25 1/2"

Fabric Slings
2 - Outdoor Fabric Squares @ 54" x 22 3/4"
2 - 1/2" Diameter Wood Dowel @ 22"

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Circular Saw
Power Sander
Drill Bit Set
General Instructions

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!


Step 1

Build the back frame very carefully as shown above. The main weight bearing joints are going to be where the fabric slings pull on the headers - so take great care to use glue, carefully predrill holes, avoid splitting your wood, and attach in place. There is a 3/8" gap between the header boards. Drill the holes as shown above for the bolts.

Step 2

Build the smaller sling as shown above, taking great care again to create strong joints for the headers.

Step 3

Once both frames are complete, line the frames up as shown above, and insert bolts, with washers on both sides of bolt, and one washer between the two wood frames to protect the finish on your wood frames. The chair should now swing open, but there will be nothing to keep the chair from staying open. See next step . . .

Step 4

Build the propup support as shown above. Attach with bolts and washers to the backrest frame, in the remaining predrilled bolt hole. Rest between seatframe slats. You will be able to move the prop up to adjust the angle of the chair.

Time to make that sling.

Step 5

Step 6

Using a larger stitch length, topstitch edges along both (long) sides only. A decorative stitch is optional. Finish edges by tucking thread into project.

Step 7

Fold bottom and top over 1 1/2” to create “sleeves.”
Topstitch using same seam allowance as on the sides.
Finish edges by tucking thread into project.

Step 8

By threading the slings through the chair headers, then threading the dowels in the "sleeves" you create a sling that is held in place sturdily, but is easy to remove to wash or change the look up.

Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth.

It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.
Project Type



Sun, 06/12/2011 - 19:06

Ana, I know Grace's Grandma sewed the slings for you, but do you know if she used a regular household sewing machine or did she use an industrial machine? If she used a household machine, what type of needle should be used? I'm worried about my machine being able to get through the layers of canvas. :-/


Sun, 06/12/2011 - 20:36


I'm wondering if I can use drapery fabric, I live in Arizona, so anything you leave outside dries within a few min, and since there isn't any padding or anything between the two it would probably dry (if and when it ever rains here) pretty quickly.

Lis West

Sat, 04/21/2012 - 06:24

The type of fabric you use DOES matter. I am in the NC...with the nice, hot, frying sun. I do a lot of sewing and have been sewing for more than 30 years. Outdoor fabric AND outdoor fabric thread will hold up much better than drapery fabric. Outdoor fabric is made to withstand the drying effects of the sun as well as all the other outdoor elements. Thread makes a difference too. The regular thread will break down in a season from the sun. I use Sunbrella fabric and thread. Have you ever bought any Better Homes and Garden outdoor swings with a cloth cover? My husband bought one several years ago and the cover literally disintegrated and frayed within the year. I made a new cover from Sunbrella fabric and thread (I live near Highpoint, NC where fabric is super cheap) and no problems years later. I used an universal needle 110/18 (upholstery needle) on my regular sewing machine and did ok. My friend has an industrial sewing machine and she had absolutely no problems. Also, after you have finished your cloth portion of the project, spray it down with an outdoor fabric protector. I hope this answered a few of the cloth questions.


Tue, 06/14/2011 - 16:29

Just bought enough wood and hardware for two of these. A few quick questions. How come you didn't use pocket holes? I thought they were supposed to be stronger, right?

What kind of wood did YOU use, Ana - especially since you said $25 in lumber? I bought pine knowing I would seal it really well, so I'm not worried about rot or anything. My biggest concern is strength, but it should be fine. Neither my husband or I are near 200 lbs. Hopefully pine is good enough!

I'm letting my girls help me with this whole project as a homemade Father's Day gift for hubby! They are so excited to get started tonight!!! :-)


Wed, 06/15/2011 - 19:41

I finished my chair for my friend tonight. It LOOKS amazing! My worry.....the dowel rod on the prop-up support is bending like MAD! And it looks as though it's starting to split where it's connected to the 1x2. )-: Her birthday is tomorrow and I'd really like to get this fixed before I give it to her. Is there anything I can do at this point other than replace the dowel?

In reply to by deanna_g


Tue, 06/21/2011 - 15:15

Mine is doing that too, but not too bad so I'm keeping it as is for now. I think I picked out a warped dowel unfortunately.

Options I'm considering are a 1/2" metal dowel (sold at HD). I was thinking if I had it cut longer, it could fit INTO each of the 1x2 (sort of countersunk, if that makes sense), rather than screwing in from the outside. Or possibly long enough to go all the way through and then cap it somehow on each end??? Just some thoughts! :) Hope that helps! Can't wait to see a photo!


Tue, 06/21/2011 - 22:36

I found House-Mates Connecting Bolts & Connecting Cap Nuts at Home Depot today and I love them!!! They come in 4-packs for about $4.75 per pack (choice of bronze or brass plated), so you'll spend just under $10 for a 4-pack of bolts and a 4-pack of cap nuts. I did keep a washer in between the 1x2's to keep the wood from rubbing. PERFECT fit!   If you used 1x2's (some people used 2x2's for extra strength), make sure to get the size I linked to on Home Depot's website for a perfect fit.  I just updated my Brag Post with a new photo (last one at the bottom) showing the chair with the new connecting bolts. 

The bolts fit through the 1/4" holes Ana's plans instruct you to drill, but the caps need a larger hole.  I drilled 3/8" holes into all OUTER 1x2 where the connector caps needed to be and kept the inside 1x2 holes at 1/4" per Ana's instructions. Hope that makes sense!

1/4"-20 x 40mm bolts


1/4"-20 x 12mm cap nuts

Guest (not verified)

Wed, 08/03/2011 - 14:07

I made a few adjustments to this plan because I didn't trust merely gluing the dowels. I drilled a hole through the pop-up support and pushed the dowel through that. I then glued the dowel into place and capped it off with a screw and a washer (so that it wouldn't slide out) We'll see how it goes after I attach the fabric.

Orange "price matched" dowels from Michaels for me. Michaels sells $1 dowels, and Orange is around $2.45. Since Michaels only has "hardwood" dowels, and Orange has Oak, I got them for $1.45. (Michaels dowels are far too weak for this project)

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