TMHughes enjoys birding and mountain biking in North Carolina.
Reclaimed Shipping Pallets Make Good Adirondack Chairs
The first chair I made was crafted. Now I don't mean it was finely crafted, expertly crafted, or even well crafted. It was just crafted. I worked with an idea and a passion to turn a pallet into something useful and cool. I built as a I went, designing the chair on a step-by-step basis. When I was through with the first one, I was very satisfied and was ignited with the passion to build another, better one. This chair was crafted, albeit a little better than the first. I was able to make some design improvements that improved the chairs function, aesthetic quality, and ease of construction.
Free Pallet Chair Plans
When I built the second chair, I took notes and recorded steps, creating a loose plan for building pallet chairs. I want to point out now that I began my chair crafting project after searching, in vain, for a good chair plan on the internet. I looked and looked, but I could only come up with plans and chairs for purchase. I did not want to buy a chair or a plan, I wanted to make my own. I wanted to recycle a shipping pallet, and I especially did not want to spend any money on it. That is when I decided to just do it. Here you will find a detailed description and steps outlining how to build the best free shipping pallet chairs. (There is a little cost, I know you were expecting this.... you have to buy some screws or nails and any tools that you do not already have.)
Basic Pallet Design
Preparing The Seat Of Your Pallet Chair
Pallet Chair Plans: Seat And Back Rest Assembly
Get Started Building Your Pallet Chair
Getting started with a pallet chair is easy, assuming you already have some suitable pallets.
The first step is easy, making the back rest and seat for the chair. For this step, take the pallet you have chosen for the seat and cut the third stringer and all the excess from the pallet, leaving two stringers with slats attached. The remaining section should be about 19" wide by about 48" long. This will vary from pallet to pallet so its important to consider the pallets dimensions before selection. The wider the pallet the better, 19"-20" is about as narrow as you want to go so if you can find a good looking pallet with sections wider than 20" snag it.
Now the ladder like section of pallet will then get cut in two to form the seat and the back rest. The seat section should be 18"-19" deep. Anymore and some folks will have a hard time sitting with their feet on the ground. The remaining section will become the back rest, the one I used here is about 30" tall and just right. If it was a little higher though, I could lay my head back and really relax.
The ends of the stringers at the back edge of the seat and the bottom edge of the back rest should be cut at a 70° angle as shown in the picture. This will ensure a comfortable angle for reclining and make the pieces fit together more attractively.
It is sometimes necessary to attach a nailer to the seat or the back rest in order to attach them together firmly.
The New Pallet Chair Arm Assembly
Pallet Chair Arm Assembly
Pallet Chair Arm Parts
Read More From Feltmagnet
Building Arms For Your Pallet Chair
Building the arms is one of the most important parts of this process. Without the arms, the chair is merely a few pieces of cut up pallet, with the arms the chair comes to life. The arms should be strong because they hold the chair together and support all the weight. The pallet chair arm design I am using now uses three pieces of wood taken from your second pallet. With my second try, I made the addition of half-lapping the arm and leg together as well as incorporate the architectural detail of angle cutting the back of the arm for aesthetic purposes. As always, the pallet chair plan is a work-in-progress and will continue to advance with each new chair I build.
Dimensions For The Pallet Chair Arm
These arms are built from 1x4 and 2x4 sized stock. Check your pallet's construction to make sure you have wood available that is the right size. You can use wood with other specifications, just take that into account when making your measurements and cuts. You will need to make three pieces.
- The Chair Arm: Use a 1x4 for this. It should be 31 inches in total length. On one end cut an angle that leaves a 1.2 inch on one end and the outer edge at 25 1/2 inches. Before cutting I suggest you look at both pieces (one for each side) and check which side you want facing up.
- The Arm Support: Use the other 1x4 and cut it to a total length of 31 inches. Then make a cut that leaves the lower edge at 28 3/4 inches.
- The Pallet Chair Leg: Use the 2x4 to make the leg. Cut it to a length of 25 1/2 inches. Check it to see which side you want up and facing out then cut a 3/4 inch deep by 3 1/2 inch wide lap on the inside top edge.
- Fit the arm support into the lap joint that you cut in the chair leg and attach with screws. The chair arm support and the chair leg should form a 90° angle with the pointy end facing back. Pilot holes are big plus when attaching the arm assembly parts.
- Next attach the chair arm to the arm support, also using screws and pilot holes. Once this is completed the pallet chair arm is ready to be attached to the pallet chair.
Simple Design Easy to Build Pallet Chairs
Mark a Line for the Chair Leg
Pallet Chair Final Assembly
Pallet Chair Instructions for Assembly
- Prepare the seat and chair back. Make the appropriate 70° cuts to ensure a snug fit and comfortable reclining angle.
- Attach the seat to the bottom rails. The rails should be 2x4 sized stock, I picked the prettiest ones I could find. The bottom rails are salvaged from a second pallet cannibalized for its parts. The seat should be attache at the ends of the rails, with the back of the seat facing toward the extended rails.
- On both chairs I have built so far, I have had to attach a nailer board to the seat. This will go between the rails at the back edge, angled the same way and flush with the end. This will allow you to properly attach the back rest to the seat.
- Now it is time to attach the arms. Flip the chair assembly on its side, being careful with the back rest because it is not yet fully supported. On the side of the front edge of the rail mark a 70 degree angle from the mid-point of the seat as in the diagram.
- Line the chair leg up with the seat assembly using the line you have drawn as a guide. When the arm rest matches up with the line and the back of the chair it is in good position and is ready for final assembly. Use good, heavy screws to attach the chair arms to the seat assembly. I used 2 and 2 1/2 inch deck screws for most of the construction but switched to 3" stainless steel screws to attach the arm to the seat and backrest.
- I built my chair out in the yard with some power tools and a six pack. For best results I suggest working on a flat table. Some of my measurements may be off, just check as you go to make sure your pieces will fit.
Some Nice Touches for Your Pallet Chair
- A little weather seal will help you get a few more years of life out of your chairs.
- Paint will also help the chairs live longer and will also enhance their appeal.
- Adding some cushions really adds to a pallet chair.
- Add some wheels or casters to your chair and use it as a wagon for carrying coolers and other outdoors or beach supplies.
- Cup holders are great for holding a beer or a cup full of BBQ sauce while you're grilling.
Kelsey Elise Farrell from Orange County, CA on April 07, 2015:
Great post! I've been wanting to use pallets in our backyard now for some time. I've used pallets for a dining room table, but have meaning to bring them outside, this seems like the best way to try it out.
TMHughes (author) from Asheville, NC on October 22, 2012:
It depends, older pallets are drier and don't shrink as much .... Or I just haven't noticed.
I'm stunned by the number of people interested in reusing pallets. :-)
whowas on October 22, 2012:
Ah yes, thanks for that reminder - I'll look out for it. I was conscious of that when using them to make a chicken coop. I also learned that for applications such as that, it's worth allowing for a bit of shrinkage.
TMHughes (author) from Asheville, NC on October 22, 2012:
Thanks! Be sure to use pallets marked "ht". These are heat treated instead of chemical and are much safer to use.
whowas on October 22, 2012:
Hi TMHughes - what a fantastic hub! I love the idea and the layout and directions are crystal clear and very inspiring.
I once made a garden shed from old pallets and have also used them for fencing, decking and a chicken coop. never thought of using them for chairs.
Come spring, I shall definitely be making a few of these. Wonderful stuff, thank you very much for sharing this great information!