How to make a hardwood chair

Michelle, Team member
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Project Overview

A hardwood chair that you’ve made yourself is more than just a piece of furniture. It’s something that will take pride of place in your home and could even be passed down through the generations. This easy DIY project will show you just how simple it is to make a hardwood chair for your home. Continue to Step-by-step instructions.
steel wool
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How to fix a loose screw

If you’ve got a screw that has come loose in wood and it won’t grip, then wrap it in steel wool before you screw it back in. The steel wool will help the screw grip and also fill the extra space in the hole.

Step by Step Instructions

1 Have your timber pre-cut at Bunnings
2 Lay-out the base frame
3 Mitre cut the back legs
4 Taper the leg
5 Cut the taper
6 Measure and mark the front legs
7 Mitre cut taper
8 Measure and mark for the dowel
9 Drill holes for the dowel
10 Attach the legs
11 Cut the timber for the back of the chair
12 Pre-drill holes for the frame
13 Build the back frame for the chair
14 Attach a support to the base frame
15 Pre-drill the holes to join the frames
16 Join the frames together
17 Measure and mark for the seat slats
18 Cut the timber for the slats of the seat
19 Attach the slats to the chair
20 Measure and mark for the back slats
21 Cut the slats for the back of the chair
22 Attach the slats to the chair back
23 Putty and sand the chair
24 Varnish or paint the chair
25 Sit back and relax
  • Step 1. Have your timber pre-cut at Bunnings

    To make this project easier we’ve had our ply pre-cut at Bunnings.

    First, we cut our 90mm x 45mm Tasmanian oak into:

    • 335mm x 2 (front legs)
    • 340mm x 2 (back legs)
    • 500mm x 2 (support frame for front and back)
    • 510mm x 2 (sides)
    • 320mm x 2 (supports)
    • 405mm x 1 (slat support)

    We then took our 85mm x 19mm Blackbutt timber and had it cut into:

    • 500mm x 6 (for the back)
    • 460mm x 6 (for the seat)
  • Step 2. Lay-out the base frame

    Choose the nicest pieces of timber for the faces of the chair. You need two 500mm pieces for the back and front and two 510mm pieces for the side. Clamp each piece of timber to the workbench so that it doesn’t move. Pre-drill the ends with the 5.5mm bit and screw the frame together using 75mm bugle screws.

  • Step 3. Mitre cut the back legs

    We want the back legs of the chair to have extra support, so we’re mitre cutting them. Set the mitre saw to 10-degrees. Cut the first end of the leg. Measure and mark for the second mitre cut. 

  • Step 4. Taper the leg

    Once the mitre is cut, measure and mark for the taper on the leg. To get the taper, measure half the width of the leg and mark on a diagonal the length of the leg to the top.  Use a level to mark a straight line.

  • Step 5. Cut the taper

    Clamp the timber onto a work bench. Use a circular saw to rip the timber. Then make the second 10-degree mitre cut at the top of the leg. Repeat the previous steps to make the second back leg.

  • Step 6. Measure and mark the front legs

    Measure and mark 335mm on the timber for the first front leg. To mark the taper, measure half the width of the leg and mark on a diagonal the length of the leg to the top. Use a level to mark a straight line.

  • Step 7. Mitre cut taper

    Clamp the timber onto the work bench. Use a circular saw to cut the taper. Then make a straight cut at the desired length of the leg.

  • Step 8. Measure and mark for the dowel

    Lay out where the legs will go. Remember, the tapered edges face inside each leg.

    All the legs sit flush to the external edges and will be attached to the base using evenly spaced dowel dowel. Measure and mark the frame for the position of the dowel. Measure and mark the holes for the dowel. Make sure they’re the same distance apart as the frame.

  • Step 9. Drill holes for the dowel

    Using the 11mm drill bit, drill holes in the frame about 25mm deep to allow for glue. Also pre-drill the legs. Clamp the legs to the work bench then drill holes all four.

  • Step 10. Attach the legs

    Squeeze PVA glue into the holes in the frame. Insert the dowel into the hole. Use the hammer to gently tap the dowel into the holes. Then put the leg on top of the dowel. Remember that the tapered edges face inside on each leg. For drying time follow the instructions on the glue bottle. Repeat the process to attach all four legs.

  • Step 11. Cut the timber for the back of the chair

    The frame for the back of the chair consists of two supports and two uprights. The timber for the ends of the uprights need to be mitre cut using a drop saw. Make the first mitre cut at 10-degrees, the same as the back legs, measure the desired 500mm length and make the second mitre cut. Repeat the process for the second upright.

  • Step 12. Pre-drill holes for the frame

    Lay-out the frame, making sure the supports sit flush to the shorter edge of the mitre cuts on the uprights. Once in place, measure and mark for the dowels. Clamp the piece of timber to the workbench. Pre-drill two holes in each end with an 11mm drill bit. Repeat this for the other three pieces of the frame.

  • Step 13. Build the back frame for the chair

    Put PVA glue in the holes for the dowel. Insert the dowel. Use the hammer to gently tap the dowel into the holes. Join the frame together and leave the glue to dry.

  • Step 14. Attach a support to the base frame

    Before joining the back of the chair and the base frame you need to attach a support to the base frame. Take a 90mm x 45mm x 405mm piece of timber and place it so that it’s at the back of the base frame and flush to both sides. Take the cordless drill and 5.5mm drill bit to pre-drill the holes. Attach the support with the 75mm bugle screws.

  • Step 15. Pre-drill the holes to join the frames

    The two frames will be joined together using dowel. To do this measure and mark for the 10mm dowels on the base frame at the back and the top frame at the bottom.  Make sure the measurements for the two dowel on the base frame line up with those of the top frame, so when the frames are attached it’s square. Clamp the timber to the work bench and pre-drill the holes for the dowel with the 11mm drill bit. Repeat so there are two holes in the centre at each end.

  • Step 16. Join the frames together

    Place PVA glue in the holes. Place dowel in the holes. Gently tap them down with a hammer. Insert the back of the chair onto the base frame. Clamp the two frames together. Let the glue dry.

  • Step 17. Measure and mark for the seat slats

    We want the slats for our seat to have a straight edge at the front of the chair and a 10-degree mitre cut at the other end. Set the drop saw to 10-degrees and cut the 85mmx19mm timber. Then measure and mark out the length for the slats, ours were 485mm.  
  • Step 18. Cut the timber for the slats of the seat

    Use the drop saw to cut the six slats for the seat of the chair. Remember to make sure one end has a straight edge and the other has a 10-degree mitre cut.

  • Step 19. Attach the slats to the chair

    Once you’ve cut the slats, attach the two end ones, making sure there is a 20mm overhang on each side. Be sure they are square before applying glue to the frame. Secure with the fixing gun. Evenly space the other slats in between. Glue and secure with the fixing gun. Remove any excess glue as you go.  

  • Step 20. Measure and mark for the back slats

    Measure the height of the back frame for the slats. Remember, the top and bottom will be mitred at the same angle as the back of the chair so allow for this in your measurements. Ours measured 500mm. 

  • Step 21. Cut the slats for the back of the chair

    Set up the drop saw for 10-degree mitre cuts. Make the first mitre cut. Measure out 500mm and make your next mitre cut. The mitre cut should be the same angle as the back of the chair frame.

  • Step 22. Attach the slats to the chair back

    Secure the back slats using the same process as the seat. Make sure the back slats are in line with the seat slats. Space the slats evenly. Glue and fix into place wiping away any excess glue.

  • Step 23. Putty and sand the chair

    Now the chair is built, putty up the holes. Let the putty dry and lightly sand it with 120 grit sandpaper.

  • Step 24. Varnish or paint the chair

    You can paint or stain your chair to suit your décor. We’ve gone with a clear, hard-wearing exterior stain to bring out the natural grain of the timber and protect it from the elements. You may need to apply several coats of varnish. Let it dry and give it a light sand in-between coats.

  • Step 25. Sit back and relax

    Now you’ve finished making your hardwood chair, all you need to do is decide where to put it. You can put it on display by placing it in an otherwise empty corner, or making it a place to relax on your verandah or outdoor area.

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions which came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings team member.

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