materials for nesting chair

Step 1: Cut Wood to Length

From the Hemlock Bull Nosed Stop cut:

  • 2 – 23 1/4" side pieces

From the 2x2 cut:

  • 2 – 16" cross pieces

From the 1x2 cut:

  • 5 – 16” slats for the seat
  • 2 – 8” supports for the seat
  • 2 – 29” back pieces
  • 2 – 17 1/2” cross pieces
  • 2 – 21" legs with a 60° angle at one end.

Adjust your miter saw to number 60 on the scale. If your saw doesn't cut this deep, or if you don't have a miter saw, you can draw the line on the wood using a protractor at 60º, and make the cut by hand with a hacksaw. A hacksaw is a little more work, but it’s just as doable as the miter saw cut. Once you've made the cut, measure from the point and cut at 21" (and at a 90° angle). Now measure in from the point 1 3/4" and cut again at a 90° angle. This gets rid of the sharp end, and will prevent the wood from splitting. Everything can be rounded out with sanding later.

sawing wood for diy chair

Step 2: Sand Each Piece

Sand all the pieces with an electric sander. Start with 100 grit sandpaper to soften all the sharp edges. For the bottom of the back pieces and the ends of the legs, clamp the pieces together and sand until curved and smooth. Clamping together keeps the pieces uniform, and will keep the chair from wobbling later. If a smoother surface is desired, sand again with 150 grit sandpaper. We sanded off the splinters with 100 grit and called it good, because this is a camping chair and is going to be out in the woods anyway.

sanding wood for chair

Step 3: Apply Finish

Cedar has a great natural look to it so we applied a translucent finish to enhance that and help it weather well. There are many different options for stain and finish, but we picked Sikkens Cetol SRD because it's a simple, one-step stain & finish formula. This product comes in a one gallon container (more than you need), so unless you have another purpose for it or happen to have it lying around, you may want to choose a different exterior stain in a smaller sized container.

apply finish to wood folding chair

Step 4: Assemble the Back

Lay the 29" back pieces down and—measuring from the end—mark at 2 3/4" and 6". Line up one of the 2x2 pieces above the 2 3/4" mark. Pre-drill two holes into each end of the 2x2, apply glue, and then screw in place with 2" screws. Now line up the second 2x2 between the ends of the 29" pieces, and secure in place like the first with two screws in each end (this will keep the piece from turning).

assemble the back of the chair

Step 5: Assemble the Frame

Lay a 17 1/2" 1x2 piece on top of the bottom 2x2 (the one 2 3/4" from the end). Line up with the outside edges of the 1x2 back. Drill through the top piece into the side of the back pieces, being careful to avoid the screws keeping the 2x2 in place. Attach with glue and 2" screws. Now it’s time to flip the frame over so that the 1x2 cross piece is on the bottom. Position the second 17 1/2" 1x2 above the 6" mark on the back pieces. Pre-drill, glue, and screw in place.

assemble chair frame diy

glue nesting chairpre-drill wood for nesting chair

Step 6: Make the Canvas Back

Cut a piece of canvas to 20" x 26". Fold over one of the long sides of the fabric 1/4", and press with an iron. Fold over another 1/4" and iron again. Repeat with the opposite side. Sew a hem 1/8" away from the folded edge with a sewing machine. If you don't have a machine, fabric glue is another option, though it's hard to say how long it would hold up outdoors. Fold over the raw edges once, and press with an iron. For a chair you plan to leave outdoors a lot, be sure to pick a fabric that is weatherproof and resistant to mold, otherwise keep your chair from sitting out in the rain and store in a dry place. To add some weather resistance to normal fabric, apply Scotchgard™ or another waterproofing spray.

diy chair canvas

Step 7: Attach the Fabric

Position the bullnose stop along the inside of one of the back chair pieces, so that the curved edge is flush with the front edge of the 1x2. Pre-drill holes through the stop. Remove the stop, and lay the un-hemmed edge of the fabric down, so that it’s facing right side up and will wrap behind the back piece and front. Poke or cut holes where the screw will go through the fabric. This will prevent the fabric from puckering or tearing when the screws go in. Apply glue. Now reposition the bullnose stop on top of the fabric and screw in place with 1" screws.Repeat on the opposite side. Now wrap the fabric behind the back piece it's attached to, and then stretch it taut across the front. Stretch it also behind the second back piece. Temporarily staple in place if needed.

attach fabric to chair

glue fabric to back of chair

drill wood over fabric

making a nesting chaircutting chair fabricStep 8: Assemble the Seat

Start assembling the seat with the 16" slats and the angled leg pieces. It needs to be small enough to slide inside the frame of the back, so measure and compare as you go, and keep fitting it in. Line up the slat with the front of the leg pieces. Use the bullnose stop as a guide to position the slat so that it overhangs the leg and bullnose stop by just a hair. Pre-drill with a 3/32" drill bit, and secure in place with 2" screws and wood glue. Use 1/4" plastic spacers to line up the rest of the slats behind the first. Line up the ends with the slat in front and pre-drill, glue, and screw in place.

Note: There are different procedures to use when applying glue, but my recent favorite method for precision without clamping is to position the wood and pre-drill, then separate the pieces and apply glue. Reposition the pieces and insert screws. The pre-drilled holes will be close enough and lined up so that the screw will just slide into place.

Flip the seat over to attach the 8" 1x2 support pieces. Apply glue to the underside of the slats along the inside of each leg. Position the 1x2 over the glue, pre-drill, and screw in place with 1" screws.

assemble the seat for folding chair

making nesting chair seat

almost finished with nesting chair

Step 9: Finish the Chair

Fit your chair together for sitting or for storage!

fold your wooden chair

how to make a diy nesting chair (wooden folding chair)