How To Build A 2×4 Chair


Have you priced dining chairs lately? If not, be prepared for sticker shock. I have been tossing around the idea of making a new dining table and chairs and figured the chairs would be a great place to start. Because I’m a cheapskate and don’t like to spend much I thought it would be a good challenge to make a nice dining chair out of construction grade 2x4s. The 2x4s offer a great amount of surface area so naturally I am going with a half lap for all of the joints. Keep in mind that a half lap joint can be cut from a variety of tools such as a hand saw or circular saw and a chisel. I have a table saw and a dado blade so that’s what I am using. Don’t be discouraged by this! Here is a diagram tutorial with a video build and downloadable plan at the end. Enjoy!

You will need the following materials for each chair:

  • Four 8′ 2x4s (seven per pair of chairs)
  • Scrap piece of plywood for a seat (15″x19″)
  • Some type of foam for a cushion
  • Fabric, vinyl, or leather of choice for the seat
  • Wood glue
  • I used four pocket hole screws to attach the seat

Step 1

Before I cut any wood I planed mine to make sure they were exactly the same thickness. This step is not 100% necessary but it does make the half lap joints a little more trouble free.

Step 2

In no particular order, cut all of your pieces to length and rip them down to 3″ wide. Make the rip cuts in two passes so that you remove the rounded edges from both sides of the 2x4s.

half lap 2x4 chair

Step 3

Make all of your half lap cuts according to the cutting diagram. Omit the second cut on the tall legs at this point (17-1/4″ from the ground). This cut will be made once the back is put together.

Step 4

Assemble the back. This project will be a lot of gluing, clamping, and waiting.

half lap 2x4 chair

Step 5

Add the back legs. More glue, clamping, and waiting.

half lap 2x4 chair

Step 6

Add the back seat support. The top of this should be positioned 17-1/4″ off the ground.

half lap 2x4 chair

Step 7

With the back seat support glued in place you can now cut the last half laps on the back legs

half lap 2x4 chair

Step 8

Add the upper and lower horizontal side pieces. More glue, clamping, and waiting.

half lap 2x4 chair

Step 9

Add the front legs. More glue, clamping, and waiting.

half lap 2x4 chair

Step 10

Cut the last remaining half laps. These are at the top of the front legs to accept the front seat support.

half lap 2x4 chair

Step 11

Add the front seat support. More glue, clamping, and waiting.

half lap 2x4 chair

Step 12

Use whatever materials you picked out to upholster the seat. Additionally you could opt for a solid wood seat but I didn’t go that route. Also, decide how you want to attach the seat to the frame. I used two pocket holes on the inside faces of the front and back seat supports.

Step 13

If you decide to apply a finish to the chair now is the time. I used some left over Minwax Early American stain and sprayed several coats of lacquer.

Step 14

Attach the seat

half lap 2x4 chair

I have to say, at $15 to build this chair I LOVE it! The least expensive chair I found online that looked similar was $150. I can build a set of four of my chairs and probably have a better quality product when it is all said and done. These half lap joints are not going anywhere and the chair is solid as a rock. I hope I can be of some inspiration for you to do the same. If I can build one SO CAN YOU!! Do-it-yourself and save some money!

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16 COMMENTS

  1. Jay,
    I am also a maintenance man. Apartments, motels, roving maintenance, and now a maintenance supervisor @ an Arkansas State Park. I have always been one since I was 17 years old. Love the work. It is just amazing what people leave behind when they move out. I have never found a working T V though. I enjoy your videos and will be a loyal follower. Thanks for doing it!!!
    Dan DuPree

    • Hey Dan! Thanks for the kind words man! Maintenance is interesting work. The best find I have had are two laptops (different times). One had blue coolaid soaked in the keyboard. Replaced keyboard for $16 and sold it for $150. The other had a corrupt windows installation. Installed Linux and sold it for $60. Sofas are left constantly.

  2. Just found you on YouTube. LOVE your channel and your work. You’ve inspired me to learn Sketchup to take my woodworking up a notch (okay, many notches). Thanks for sharing so much.

  3. Hi jay, from dull and rainy North Wales, U K. I too have started a single dining type chair for use in the workshop. I am using scant framing timber 2 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ eased edge. My table saw has a cross cut gauge that knows not its father, (terribly wobbly and totally inaccurate). So I have gone down the pocket hole joinery route. So far I have got the back built, glued and screwed up, and all the rails cut to size and sanded to 120 grit. I have purchased some real leather for the seat cover in a fetching cherry red colour, and I’m sure that when finished it won’t look out of place in a Parissian bordello. I have stuck faithfully to your design though and would just like to say thankyou for the inspiration.

    Cheers,

    Don Roberto.

  4. Hi Jay,

    I was curious how the front legs were holding up without a cross brace between the two lower horizontal pieces. Being that it’s made out of 2×4’s it looks solid. But, I can’t help thinking that over time the front legs will start collapsing inward.

    Thanks for the inspiration. I plan make some of these very soon. Our chairs are currently loners, and my wife would love her own set. This is a great, cheap way to make some until I can afford to make her a “more elegant” set.

    • They are solid as a rock. There is too much connection with the longer back legs for them to move much. These half lap joints are huge and provide a great deal of support. You can easily add another stretcher for the front legs as well if you like. If you decide to make some I would love to see some pics!! Good luck!

  5. WOW that was awesome, I want to try make one for me the only problem is i don’t have all the tools you have, but I’ll try with the one i have, thanks for the video and plans, God bless you.

  6. Thanks Jay for all your video displays. I find you do most excellent work using difficult materials. I have quite a few tools. (Mostly thrown away from other people, but I do use them to the best of their ability) But I find I am a bit short on skills to make finished projects to show off like yours.
    Keep up the wonderful projects. Would you be interested in contacting me about addressing an old lap top rework. Thanks for everything.

  7. Jay, I am from South Texas I’ll be retiring after 45 years of teaching. I just found you. The video is great, I will most definitely be a loyal follower. Thanks again, God bless you and may He continue to give you the knowledge to pass on to others.

  8. This is really awesome chairs. My boyfriend and i just built a farm house table and we need chairs. But the price is just crazy. Im looking forward to making these chair, thank you so much.

  9. I really dig your page and your easy to follow videos. Keep’em coming and thanks for the creative inspiration.

Comments are closed.