How To Build 2 Outdoor Arm Chairs And A Side Table

Spring is here and the smell of fresh cut grass is in the air. Life just feels better this time of the year. A few pieces of outdoor furniture makes it all more enjoyable. But STOP! Don’t even think about buying pre-made, overpriced imported furniture. Instead, MAKE IT! The best way to enjoy the great outdoors is by making your very own outdoor furniture. Making instead of buying is incredibly rewarding. Not only will you save money buy building instead of buying but you might learn something you didn’t already know. All you need is a couple every day tools. So if you have a couple hours and feel like getting something done, lets build some furniture! You can download the sketchup file I used by clicking here.

Outdoor 2×4 Project!

I really like this build as the chairs are super comfortable to me. This is a limited tools project that anyone can make. And I mean anyone. The tools needed are:

  • Drill, cordless or corded.
  • Some type of saw. A circular saw or jigsaw will be fine. I also recommend a miter saw if possible.
  • Kreg Jig. Not absolutely needed but I recommend attaching the arms with pocket hole screws.
  • 2 wood clamps would help if you have them.
  • A couple pencils to mark with and use as spacers.
  • 2 thicker spacers such as large dry erase markers.
  • A square of some sort, carpenters or small speed square.

We also need the following materials:

  • 2-1/2″ or 3″ coated screws rated for outdoor use. Approximately 2 pounds
  • Tightbond III wood glue or any type of outdoor wood adhesive
  • 16 2-1/2″ blue Kreg screws (if using the pocket hole method).
  • 13 8′ 2x4s for two chairs and a table or 8 for one chair and a table. Get the FULL 8 FOOT 2x4s, not the precut 2×4 “studs.”

Step 1:

Cut out all of the pieces according to this cutlist. The top two boards are needed to make the table. As you can see there will be two rip cuts here to make the 1-1/2″ x 1-1/2″ x 18″ legs. The bottom 6 boards are used to make one chair. Simply duplicate the bottom 6 boards for two chairs (note: you only need an additional 5 boards for the second chair. You will have enough scrap to make up the 6th board). All angles on the cutlist are either 15° or 90°. Instead of giving each piece a label for you to remember I will refer to each piece by their length.

Outdoor Arm Chairs

Step 2:

Before we begin any assembly it will help if we layout the pieces. Stack all the 25″ legs in two piles for the left and right legs like shown. If you are using pocket hole screws to attach the arms, use a pocket hole jig such as the Kreg Jig to drill pocket hole screws on one end of each of the legs with the holes on the bad side. This is how you will attach the arms to the legs. Make sure the pocket holes are drilled with left and right legs in mind so you don’t end up with all the legs identical.

Outdoor Arm Chairs

Step 3:

Begin the leg assemblies with the legs oriented so that the pocket hole screws are on the top. On each leg mark 17″ up from the bottom. This will be the starting point for our 20″ pieces. Place glue at this joint and align the 20″ piece so that the 15° angle is lined up with the leg. All of the leg joints in this build should be glued. A parallelogram is formed where the pieces intersect. Always screw the pieces together with two screws along the longer diagonal of the parallelogram. The picture shows a left leg assembly and a right leg assembly. I put both in the picture for reference purposes but I just build one at a time.

Outdoor Arm Chairs

Step 4:

Use an extra piece of 2×4 material as a spacer below the 20″ pieces to locate the 23-3/4″ pieces. Secure them to the legs with glue and screws as well.

Outdoor Arm Chairs

Step 5:

At this point we need to attach the 14-1/2″ arms. They are attached horizontally so that the inside of the arm lines up with the inside of the leg. One arm needs to be overhanging on the left, one overhanging on the right. If you drilled pocket holes you will secure them from below with the pocket hole screws. If you opted not to drill pocket holes you will attach the arm from above with 3″ screws.

Outdoor Arm Chairs

Step 6:

After the arms comes the 31″ back support. I apologize if this sounds confusing but take a look at the picture and it should make sense. The 15° angle of the back support will align with the bottom of the 23-3/4″ lower leg rail. The 31″ piece will then intersect the end point of the top leg rail. We need a left and a right according to the arm direction. This joint is also glued at both horizontal pieces as well as screwed with two screws along the longer diagonal at each joint.

Outdoor Arm Chairs

Step 7:

With the leg assemblies done we can start adding the slats. The first 21″ seat slat is added with clamps first. Make sure they are perpendicular to the leg assemblies by using a speed square. Then screw the slat down with 2 screws on each side. Each of the remaining slats are secured with 2 screws on each side as well.

Outdoor Arm Chairs

Step 8:

Add three more 21″ seat slats while using pencils for spacing.

Outdoor Arm Chairs

Step 9:

Using the larger marker spacers, add the first 21″ back slat. The second 21″ back slat is spaced with pencils.

Outdoor Arm Chairs

Step 10:

Add the remainder of the 24″ back slats with pencils as spacers. You can use a larger spacer item if you would like the slats spaced out a little farther.

Outdoor Arm Chairs

Step 11:

The final piece to install on the chair is the 18″ lower stretcher.

Outdoor Arm Chairs

Step 12:

The table will go together pretty fast. Drill pocket holes on each end of the 18-1/2″ and 10-1/2″ pieces on their bad sides. Screw the 10-1/2″ pieces to the legs first and then connect each leg assembly together with the 18-1/2″ pieces.

Outdoor Arm Chairs

Outdoor Arm Chairs

Step 13:

The final pieces are the top slats. I have made some of these tables with no top spacing and others with the pencil spacers. Either way it is up to you.

Outdoor Arm Chairs

Step 14:

This is the most important step. You have to take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back. A job well done.

Outdoor Arm Chairs

Here are a few pics of some completed chairs and a step by step video series to guide you through the build!

Outdoor Arm Chairs

Outdoor Arm Chairs

Outdoor Arm Chairs

Outdoor Arm Chairs

 

 

 

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56 Comments

  1. MICK

    Jay, I am going to give this project a try also. I noticed that the link to the sketchup of the table and chairs doesn’t work. I get a “Could not locate object” error. The cut list works, just not the sketchup. Thought I’d let you know in case its not just me.

  2. Larry Clement

    My Wife just had a new patio poured and these will look great on it. I am going with cedar. It should work out just right. Thanks Jay.

  3. Jennifer

    Do you have plans for a similar looking chair but the table is attached in between the 2 chairs> I think they call it a Jack n Jill chair? We would love to make these for our lake house.

    1. Jay Bates

      Hello Jennifer. At the moment I do not. I have been wanting to make the same setup as you describe for my porch this summer but have not drawn any plans yet.

  4. Audra Rae Flores

    I’m rather large could we widen the chairs some and what do you think is good size.

    1. Jay Bates

      Hello! Yes, you can widen the chairs. It uses the same base design as my 4′ bench plans. I have a set of benches on my porch that are 5′ long from this plan. So, use any width you want! Just adjust for the appropriate slat size.

  5. LARRY

    Jay, very nice bench and chairs. I really like your design. Did you use pine 2×4’s or treated 2×4’s.
    What finish did you use on them? Keep up the good work.

  6. Tony

    Jay, great projects. Quite talented. Now, let me try to emulate. Retired from the military, so lots of time to work on projects. Thanks for sharing your expertise and plans. v/r, Tony

  7. Jack David Dean

    You only used pocket screws on the arms rests, could they be used for the seat and back slats as well?

    1. Jay Bates

      Yes they can. I use them on my benches that has the same frame. Check out this video and combine the two projects. I made this tutorial before I used pocket holes on the frame.

  8. Marshall Watchinski

    Hello Jay … I am very excited today as UPS was just here and brought my Kreg Jig master system to me.. Now I can really get to work. I have already built a few benches, one at 5ft for myself and some tables from the same design as the bench. Now that I have my pocket hole tools, I can make some chairs.. Your info is very valuable .. Thank you
    Marshall

  9. Dimitris Filippou

    Hi i just found out your youtube channel and internet site. I really like your video and designs. In particular I like that you use very few tools to complete most of the projects. Kepp up the good work.

    One question :) From what I see in the video you use no glue and no mortise tenon joints but you use only screws. Are the chairs strong enough? Do the chair cope with heavy persons and people that they tend to lean back the chair in the two back legs all the time?

  10. William

    I want to make the chairs 6″ wider. I want to make sure it is the square angle pieces the would be widened.

  11. Jason

    Jay, thank you for sharing this project and all your others! My mother loves the chairs and table. As someone who is just starting out in woodworking, I appreciate all the work you’ve done to make these things available. Just looking through your projects is giving me a lot of inspiration. Thank you!

  12. Seamus Pinder

    I made a bench for my how which I had to modify and put one less slatvon the back due to a bad split didn’t see. Then made a bench with arm rests like the chairs but longer for my sister in laws birthday a few months early butvshe loves it. Thank you jay for the easy yet sturdy and economical designs.

  13. Nicholaix

    Whenever I need a project I check out your stuff first. I wish everything was as clearly explained and laid out as your directions!

  14. Marshall

    Awesome woodwork Jay, would like to know if there is a way to download the instructions to your projects. these would be great for me to do in my shed and plus make the wife happy as well. Or email me. once again Thanks and keep up the awesome work,

  15. George, B.

    I built these arm chairs today and they look great! The one thing I changed was the backs at 22.5 instead of the 15 degree cut. Love it and thank you!

  16. Czyz

    First off, Thank you Jay as this was one of my first woodworking projects aside from a workbench some shelves. Very nice instructions and video. Love these and cant wait to try more. The one thing I had to change due to my height/weight was the angle on the back of the chair. I used the suggestion of 22.5 for the second chair I made and it makes a world of a difference comfort wise.

    Some great videos!!! thanks again.

  17. Rob from upstate NY

    Ever consider applying a small amount of construction adhesive to each pocket joint prior to assembly?

  18. Tommy Allen

    Hello Jay My name is Tommy The videos and plans are awesome. I am a newbe to wood working and I would like to try to build my grandson a wagon. I was wanting to know if you have any plans on one. By the way you make plans and advise on how to make them I believe that would be a good project for me to try.Thanks and keep up the good work.

  19. Joel Howard

    So, I decided that this looked easy enough that I couldn’t goof it up. I bought my lumber to make one chair to try it out. I marked all my cuts, measured twice and cut once. I went to assemble the chair and the sides didn’t line up at my 17″ mark, the tops of the legs touched and the 23 3/4″ board wasn’t close to fitting…and then I watched the video. I marked my angles on the wrong side of the speed square…this really throws everything off. Odd thing is, you started to mention the wrong side in that 1st video. Well, back to the lumber yard to get a couple new 2x4s so I can complete the project.

  20. Richard Mertz

    I am using 10X21/2 and 10X3 screws for the assembly. When I came to the seat slats, I started splitting the slats when I put in the screws. Are you using 10’s or 8’s for your assembly?

    1. Jay Bates

      I have no clue what size screws I was using. I believe 10’s though. Predrill and you shouldn’t have that problem. Sounds like you are using really dry wood (which isn’t a bad thing).

      1. Richard Mertz

        Thanks. The wood is dry, and I guess I was trying to avoid the extra work of pre-drilling. Just doesn’t pay to be lazy though.

  21. Edd

    I made these over the weekend and painted them. I love the results and they are proudly displayed in my front porch. Thank you for the article Jay.

    I would like to make another set for the back yard but lighter. Do you think they would still come out good if used 1×4 material instead?

    Thanks again!

  22. Erik

    Hello Jay,

    Love the work you have done! I have looked and looked and I can’t find the link to the cut list or the Sketchup file. I’ve tried different computers and three different browsers. So either I’m missing something obvious or something is not working.

    I see this after the photos but before the videos and I suspect this is supposed to be for the links: [wpfilebase tag=file id=8 /]

  23. B. Will

    Jay I needed a chair for my wife’s new deck. I decided to make her one and customize a rocker for myself. I used 2 x 8s for the rocker bottoms and just bolted, glued, and screwed them on the legs. Gained a few inches in height. I am 6′ 7″ and weigh 320 so these chairs are really great for a large frame person. Thx

  24. jason

    Hey Jay. I been building these for a year or so now. Thanks for all the plans. I ripped out some old growth redwood from a deck that was 50 years old. Planed it and it’s gorgeous wood. I will send you pics of my twist on these chairs. I connect them, instead of having two inside arms it’s a table that connects them. I’ve built 2 out out store bought pine … but this old growth redwood will look awesome. Where you want me to send pics once done?

  25. Justin C.

    Jay, I have an odd request…..I would like to build these at least four times this size. My wife wants giant chairs for the front yard. I’m guessing I would need to add more cross braces and of course more slats. Any help you can provide would be much appreciated.

  26. Dave

    Hey Jay awesome project man , I’m a rather large person so finding chairs wide enough for me is impossible, I simply altered the measurements of the back and seat of your design and it works great, thanks for putting this out.

  27. Anthony Fowler

    Hey, I’ve fallen into a gig where I teach woodworking to kids with special needs. We just built your bench with some cedar I found in the school’s basement, and are about to start these. I have to thank you – the plans are clear and easy enough that I can use them with minimal modifications and the kids were SO excited when they finished the benches. It’s been a great thing for them. I think we’ll be putting our furniture in the playground, as there’s nowhere to sit at the moment. Cheers.

  28. Cris

    Im a begginer woodworker. I have been watching lots of video and I find you to be the most helpfull, easy to understand and inspirational. Thanks

  29. Hubert Osborn

    My wife wanted a bench and wanted it with arms. I built the chair, wider. Worked great. Thanks for the plans.

  30. Terry Lee Parrish

    I just finished building the 2×4 bench and it turn out good. My neighbor wants me to build him one. Got no idea what to charge as of yet. I have built the horse bench frame and still working on the design on the back. It’s looking good too. I have also got another design I can put on the back to create another bench. What Thompson product would recommend for the bench. It’s made of pressure treated lumber. I bought your plans for the dresser and workshop cabinets. Projects for the summer.
    Thank for all you do. Keep up the pod cast I enjoy them.

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