More DIY

This is an awesome website.  It’s full of great ideas and plans for easy DIY projects.  I fell in love with her plans for a sling chair.  I had a chair similar to this while in med school.  I bought it at a craft fair and it stayed in Rochester when I left, since a tiny apartment in Manhattan was no place to bring lawn furniture.  Anyway, now that I’m a grown-up, I have a lawn.  Time to break out those tools again!
I will start by telling you this- the plan is deceptively simple.  It’s not as easy as it looks.  I went through 3 failed attempts before hitting on a good method to make this chair.
You Can’t Make an Omelet without Breaking Some Eggs, Right?

The plans call for using 1×2’s for the side rails.  I made version number one with that.  It felt WAY too flimsy, so instead I used 2×2’s.  Don’t be an idiot like me.  Realize that if you switch the dimensions of SOME of the wood, it will necessitate changing the dimensions of ALL of the cuts.  Ahem.  As Handy Manny says, “Measure twice, cut once.”

Without a doubt, the most difficult and most important part of this chair is making sure that the headers at the top and bottom where the sling attaches are square and tight.  This is a lot harder than it looks.  I tried many ways to get it just right, and finally settled on using a Kreg Jig and making pocket holes.  For those of you not familiar with a Kreg Jig, it is very cool and easy, once you get the hang of it.  You start by clamping the wood in the jig:

The drill goes in the hole and makes an oval hole:

Then it’s very easy to screw that piece to the side rail.

You are left with a joint that looks like this- nice, square and flush.

USE GLUE.  It’s important.  Don’t be lazy and skip that step.  Ask me how I know.  Ahem.


If your wood does split, remove the split piece and replace it, this time being more careful.  Don’t think that it really won’t matter.  It will.  Ask me how I know.

At any rate, I did eventually get it right.  Finished and ready to stain!  Another life lesson- take your time sanding, staining and finishing your furniture.  It’s really tempting to go too fast and get careless here in your eagerness to be done.  It’s not worth it.  If the furniture isn’t finished well, you might as well not finish it at all.  I used stain and 2 coats of varnish.

Now for the really hard part- sewing the slings.  Confession- I’ve never used a sewing machine before.  Never.  However, I did have access to one- my father-in-law was happy to give me my late mother-in-law’s machine.  Luckily, he also still had the manual.  Turns out, it wasn’t all that hard and was actually kind of fun.

And, finally, success!!!

Overall, I’m really happy with how these came out.  They’re incredibly comfortable.  I’ve weight tested them up to 220 lbs.  They look great around the pool.  Now it’s time for a beer and a swim!

4 thoughts on “More DIY”

  1. HI Marni. Thanks for all the detail in this post, especially the part about what you did wrong. I have been following Ana's site for quite awhile but haven't made anything yet. It still seems completely overwhelming, but your pictures of how to do it help.

    I am an avid sewer however. Your slings look very good. I hope you will continue with the sewing. There is a very good website that will help with any questions your might have. http://sewing.patternreview.com I hope you will drop in.
    Leslie in NZ


  2. I think the biggest mistake you made is the selection of wood. Spruce strapping 1″ x 2″ is not a good choice for making these chairs. You may have got a 220lb person into one of them but it won't be for long before they break.

    You should be using some type of fine grain hardwood like maple or birch. They are a little harder to work with but the have the benefit of long term strength.


  3. You are wise, my friend. I had the support break on one of the chairs already.

    I'm cheap, so I'm glad I did these initial ones out of pine, but now that I know what I'm doing, I will probably make new ones out of hardwood.


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