Would you believe this modern outdoor chair is the first chair I’ve ever built? With building plans from Fix This, Build That, you can make your own for outdoor, office or even family room!
Hello sweet friends!
I have been brain-swamped of late – that’s where there is so much going on in your head you don’t have time for real life.
My kids finished school – both honours students (I’m a proud Mama), I finished trade school for cabinetmaking (honours student), I’ve taken on a couple of build/refinishing jobs, a blog sponsorship post, and the unending saga that is my divorce is still running in the background. It’s a LOT – both good and bad.
But my She-Shop is where I find peace, so heading back out – even in the sweltering humidity – has been a welcome reprieve.
Today I’m going to give the broad strokes on how to build your own modern outdoor chair…
however, the build plans are not mine to share, so you’ll have to head over to Fix This, Build That for the actual measurements and supply list.
I will give you a few tips that helped me along the way though because, believe it or not, this is my FIRST actual chair build!!
Fix This, Build That made their modern outdoor chair from cedar 2 x 4’s – and if you click over you’ll see how stunning it looks.
I don’t actually have a use for this chair – my house is full – but I wanted to learn to build one, so I went with poplar because it’s a cheaper wood to cedar.
I started by cutting all of my wood to length and labelling the ends with the size and part number.
Once I had the parts cut, there was a bit of tapering needed for the legs and chair back. Using a taper jig is the easiest way to get accurate cuts, but if you don’t feel like making one, cuts can be made with a circular saw and a steady hand.
You can see the very subtle tapering as you start to assemble your modern outdoor chair seat and back.
The whole project is well thought-out, with pocket holes hidden in inconspicuous places.
There is a bit of dowel joinery that might test your skills a bit, but again – I’ve never made a chair before and I managed to figure out how to connect the arms to the legs with dowels so that there are no screw holes showing anywhere. If you get really stuck, Fix This, Build That also has a YouTube video showing how to drill the dowels for a perfect fit.
It’s tough to tell from the photo below, but the top arm/leg was streamlined with a roundover bit in a trim router. You don’t have to do this step, but it does make a more professional and sleek look to the modern outdoor chair.
I used a scrap piece of wood clamped to each leg to rest the seat base on for attaching. Just make sure to protect your wood from clamp marks by putting another bit of scrap wood on the other side of the leg to rest the clamp against. This is ESPECIALLY important if you are using a softer wood like pine or cedar.
With the scrap bits clamped into place, and checking for level, attaching the seat base is a breeze.
From here all that’s left is attaching the slats to the back and seat of your modern outdoor chair.
I cut two 1″ pieces of scrap wood to act as spacers between each slat for easy installation and accurate spacing. Pre-drill your holes and then attach with wood screws/deck screws from the underside/back.
The only flaw in the building plans from Fix This, Build That was, in my opinion, the missing boards at the back of the seat and the lower section of the back. The spacing isn’t enough to fit full-width boards, but the gap was too big for my liking and allowed the pocket screws from then seat base to show.
To rectify this, I simply cut two more boards – slightly narrower – and attached them to the open areas.
You can see in the photo below where the last two boards just finish the modern outdoor chair perfectly. No visible screws anywhere except the back and bottom.
After a coat of (custom tinted) stain and 3 coats of outdoor appropriate poly, my first ever chair was done!
The building plans call for cushions with a 6″ thickness which I found at Home Depot. They are available through Amazon as well, but the pricing wasn’t any better so I went for the option with easier returns just in case I changed my mind about the colour.
Isn’t that sharp?!!
I believe the build itself took me two 5 hour days, but I milled the poplar down to thickness myself instead of buying the cedar 2×4’s.
I do suggest sanding as much as you can before assembly; it’s not necessary, but it does make life so much easier in the end.
I know the build plans indicate modern outdoor chair, but I’ve seen chairs like this set up in family rooms and in home offices as well. I think the main difference is going to be how you finish it – if you go with the trim router, roundover edges, a thorough sanding and a contemporary stain – this DIY chair can easily be an indoor statement.
This is 5 month old Bentley (old English sheepdog) that couldn’t stand that a chair was getting more attention than he was, so he graciously modelled for me.
He’s so gorgeous – I can’t resist that face! 🥰
Sending out a big thank you to Fix This, Build That for the awesome idea and building plans!
I’m so pleased to say that now I can build chairs as well!
Have a great one!
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