Before we build some DIY outdoor chairs, let’s talk briefly about cushions. Make sure you get your cushions BEFORE starting this project.
Though we chose standard sized cushions, you might need to adjust the plans slightly if you opt for different cushions, which is why it’s so important to get them first.
Our bottom cushion measures 25×25 and the top cushion measures 25×21.
Alright, let’s start DIYing!
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What You’ll Need
- 5- 2x3x8 boards*
- 1- 2x2x8 board
- 1- 1x8x6 board**
- 2- 1x4x8 boards
- Wood glue
- 3/8″ wood plugs
- 1.25″ exterior wood screws
- 2.5″ exterior wood screws
- 3.5″ exterior wood screws
- 1.25″ exterior Kreg screws
- 2.5″ exterior Kreg screws
- Stain + sealer (we highly recommend Spar Urethane)
- Leveling feet
*We built our chairs using 2x6x8 pine boards and cut them down to be the size of 2x3s. You can do either. Cutting down 2x6s will give your wood a more squared-off look.
**1 – 1x8x6 will be enough for your couch and two additional chairs.
*See printable plans for detailed cut list.
How to build an outdoor chair
STEP 1: MAKE YOUR CUTS
Cut your boards according to the cut list. This cut list reflects what’s needed for one chair. Want a pair? Double it!
STEP 2: DRILL POCKET HOLES
Pocket holes are the foundation of most DIY furniture. Become a pocket hole pro in less than an hour in Pocket Holes: Explained.
Drill your pocket holes as laid out in the printable plans.
STEP 3: SAND YOUR BOARDS
We like to knock out the majority of our sanding before we start assembly. We’ll sand again after assembly, but with as rough as 2x3s can be, it’s nice to smooth everything out before you have to deal with nooks and crannies.
STEP 4: ASSEMBLE LEGS
To assemble the legs, we’ll use a mix of pocket holes and a countersunk screws. Let’s start with countersinking.
Mark 3/4″ in from each side and each end for a total of 4 markings on each of your leg tops. Using a 1/8″ drill bit, drill all the way through the board.
Using a 3/8″ countersink bit, drill a countersink hole that’s 1/2″ deep.
Using glue and 2.5″ screws, attach the leg top to the front/back. Place some wood glue over the screw head and cover it with a wood plug. If it’s not going in all the way, try hitting it with a rubber mallet.
Next, use glue and 2.5″ Kreg screws to attach the leg slant. The highest point of the slant should be 14″ from the bottom of the leg and should be flush with the inside of the leg.
Finally, we’ll attach the leg support using glue and 2.5″ Kreg screws. The bottom of the leg support should be 2″ from the bottom of the leg.
STEP 5: ASSEMBLE BACK FRAME
Repeat the pre-drilling and countersinking process using your seat back top/bottom. Then attach the top and bottom to the seat backsides using glue and 3.5″ screws.
Don’t forget to cover your screw heads with a dab of glue and wood plugs.
STEP 6: ASSEMBLE BOTTOM
First attach the 2×2 seat supports to the leg slant. The 7-degree side should be lined up with the bottom of the leg slant and the seam where the leg slant meets the leg front.
Attach the front and back to the legs using glue and 2.5″ Kreg screws. The top of both should be 14″ from the bottom of the leg.
STEP 7: ATTACH THE BACK
Let’s make this thing resemble an actual chair!
Slide the back in until the bottom is lined up with the bottom of the 2×2 supports. Lean the back until it hit the back of the bottom and clamp in place.
Attach using 2.5″ Kreg screws through the pocket holes on the 2×2 supports, then mark where the back lines up with the arms.
Pre-drill 2 spots on each side and then drill countersink holes. Finally, attach the back to the arms using 3.5″ screws.
STEP 8: INSTALL THE BACK SLAT
Measure 8 7/8″ from either side–this is where your 1×8 back slat will go. Since the back is always going to be covered with a cushion, we have our pocket holes facing forward so that the back is seamless. Install with 1.25″ Kreg screws.
Note: 2×8 boards would be more sturdy for this. We are fully expecting our 1×8 boards to develop a curve or warp slightly over time. We were trying to keep costs (and weight) down by opting for the 1×8.
STEP 9: STAIN + SEAL
Stain and seal your couches using your choice of finishing options. We used Minwax Water-Based Semi-Transparent Stain in Weathered Oak and then waterproofed our outdoor chairs using Helmsman’s Spar Urethane in a satin finish.
STEP 10: INSTALL BOTTOM SLATS
Place your bottom slats on the seat, eyeballing even spacing. Pre-drill and secure them using 1.25″ screws.
STEP 11: ADD LEVELING FEET
Flip your chair over and mark the center of each of the legs. Use a 3/8″ drill bit to drill for the leveling feet and then screw them in.
There you have it! Now you know how to build your own outdoor chairs. Be sure to check out the matching outdoor sofa plans to complete your outdoor furniture set!
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