How to Make Patio Chairs

Updated: Apr. 05, 2024

These classic patio chairs are low maintenance and easy to build.

Next Project

A day




$200 - $250


It's challenging to find patio chairs that offer greater comfort, ease of maintenance and simplicity than these. Here's how to build them.

Tools Required

  • Basic hand tools
  • Clamps
  • Drill/driver
  • Jigsaw or handsaw
  • Miter saw
  • Table saw or Circular saw

Materials Required

  • 1-1/4" Stainless steel screws
  • 180-grit sandpaper
  • 2 - 1x3 x 8'
  • 4 - 2-1/2" galv. carriage bolts
  • 4 - 2" galv. carriage bolts
  • 8 - 1x4 x 8'
  • 8 - 3-1/2" galv. carriage bolts
  • Composite deck screws w/plugs
  • Galvanized nuts and washers
  • PVC glue

This patio chair is hard to beat and easy to make and maintain. The design is based on a couple of chairs I’ve had at the family cabin for more than a decade. Being a fiddle-with-it kind of guy, I modified the originals over the years, built others and eventually chose this design.
In case, you want to restore an old wobbly chair.Here is how you can fix it.

Figure A : Exploded View

Patio Chairs Exploded ViewTMB STUDIO

Figure B : Side View

Fh17may 578 51 T02 How To Make Patio Chairs Fig BTMB STUDIO

Cutting List (One Chair)

A 2 1×4 28-1/4″ Seat sides*
B 2 1×4 21-1/2″ Seat front, back top
C 2 1×3 19-1/2″ Seat supports**
D 2 1×3 27-1/2″ Back supports**
E 2 1×4 24-1/2″ Back sides**
F 8 1×4 23-1/2″ Legs
G 1 1×3 19-3/4″ Bottom back slat(cut to fit)
H 12 1×4 19-3/4″ Slats, back brace(cut to fit)
J 2 1×4 29-1/4″ Arms

Overall dimensions: 35-1/4-in. tall by 27-in. wide by 33-1/4-in. deep.
* = 10-degree cut on one end
** = 15-degree cut on one end

Project step-by-step (12)

Step 1

Using PVC

Cellular PVC is a great material for outdoor furniture. It will last forever without needing sanding or re-finishing.

I recommend switching out your saw blades for specialized blades to cut composite or PVC material; you’ll end up with smoother cuts. You can find the one-inch-thick PVC boards I used at home centers. Mostly used for exterior trim, they have one smooth side and one grain side. That means you’ll have left and right sides to Parts A, D and E.

For each of these pairs, make sure the angled cut goes one direction on one part and the opposite direction on the other. This will allow you to assemble the chair with the smooth face of the cedar facing out.

PVC also requires special composite screws. You’ll need a special bit that sinks them just right into material. The screws also come with plugs to hide the holes.
Fhmpp23 Mb 09 07 Patiochairs 01 How To Make Patio Chairs Using PvcTMB STUDIO

Step 2

Cut the parts

Making more than one chair means cutting a lot of pieces to the same length. A stop block lets you cut a bunch without measuring and marking each board. Using a miter saw, begin by cutting all the parts except G and H.
Fhmpp23 Mb 09 07 Patiochairs 06 How To Make Patio Chairs Cut The PartsTMB STUDIO

Step 3

Assemble the seat base

Screw the front to the sides using two-inch screws, then PVC glue and screw the seat supports to the sides using shorter 1-1/4-inch screws. If needed, raise or lower the seat supports slightly so the space above them matches the thickness of the slats.
Fhmpp23 Mb 09 07 Patiochairs 02 How To Make Patio Chairs Assemble The Seat BaseTMB STUDIO

Step 4

Build up the back supports

Screw and glue the back supports to the back sides. Position the back supports to match the thickness of the back slats.
Fhmpp23 Mb 09 07 Patiochairs 05 How To Make Patio Chairs Build Up The Back Supports CalloutsTMB STUDIO

Step 5

Bolt on the back

Attach the back to the seat side with galvanized carriage bolts. Then screw the back brace to the back side supports.
Fhmpp23 Mb 09 07 Patiochairs 07 How To Make Patio Chairs Bolt On The BackTMB STUDIO

Step 6

Build the legs

Because PVC can be somewhat flimsy, I doubled up the legs for this chair. Take two of the leg parts (F) and glue the smooth sides together flush on all sides with PVC glue. Keep the parts flush with a few 1-1/4-inch stainless steel screws.
Fhmpp23 Mb 09 07 Patiochairs 08 How To Make Patio Chairs Build The LegsTMB STUDIO

Step 7

Attach the legs

On a flat and level workbench, clamp a pair of legs to the seat and back. The front legs should be clamped 2-1/2-inches from the front of the seat base and 11 inches from the bottom of the seat base to the bottom of the leg. The back legs should be close to 7-3/4-inches to the bottom of the leg and flush with back angle of the seat base (Part A).

These measurements are approximate and will need adjustment if the legs are not all flat on the floor. Check the legs for plumb and the seat for level, then bolt on the legs.
Fhmpp23 Mb 09 07 Patiochairs 10 How To Make Patio Chairs Attach The LegsTMB STUDIO

Step 8

Fasten the slats

Place the slats on the seat and the back. Position the end slats first, then space out the slates between them evenly (typically 3/8-inch apart).

I started spacing the slats for the back from the top and left a slightly larger gap where the outdoor cushion will cover at the bottom. I used spacers to keep the spacing consistent, then fastened them with a screw on each end.
Fhmpp23 Mb 09 07 Patiochairs 13 How To Make Patio Chairs Fasten The SlatsTMB STUDIO

Step 9

Mark the arm for a notch

Place the arm in on top of the legs and mark the angle where it meets the back of the seat. Transfer the mark to the top and bottom of the arm and mark a notch that matches the width of the seat back sides (part E).
Fhmvs23 Mb 09 07 Patiochair 1 How To Make Patio Chairs Mark The Arm For A NotchTMB STUDIO

Step 10

Cut the notch

Set the table saw fence and cut the long side of the notch first. Keep the top of the armrest facing up and stop when you reach the line at the end of the notch. To cut the rest of the notch, use a jigsaw or handsaw to match the angle traced in the previous step.
Fhmvs23 Mb 09 07 Patiochair 2 How To Make Patio Chairs Cut The NotchTMB STUDIO

Step 11

Mount the arms

Set the arms in place and screw them to the tops of the legs. After the chair is completely assembled, it’s a good idea to take 180-grit sandpaper and ease all the corners. The PVC boards don’t have rounded corners and can get a little sharp.
Fhmpp23 Mb 09 07 Patiochairs 14 How To Make Patio Chairs Mount The ArmsTMB STUDIO

Step 12

Plug the screw holes

The last step in building this DIY patio furniture: filling all the screw holes. The plugs feature the same grain pattern as the boards to really help them blend in. Be sure to line up the grain direction of the plug with that of the chair.
Fhmpp23 Mb 09 07 Patiochairs 17 How To Make Patio Chairs Plug The Screw HolesTMB STUDIO