How to make an Ariondack chair (out of pallets)
How to make an Ariondack chair (out of pallets)

Gather your supplies

  • A Front rail 100 x 20 x 590mm softwood
  • B Sloping legs (2) 100 x 40 x 1000mm softwood
  • C Back rail 100 x 20 x 510mm softwood
  • D Front legs (2) 100 x 20 x 620mm softwood
  • E Middle back slat 100 x 20 x 850mm softwood
  • F Centre back slats (2) 100 x 20 x 800mm softwood
  • G Outer back slats (2) 100 x 20 x 750mm softwood
  • H Brackets (4) 100 x 20 x 200mm softwood
  • I Armrests (2) 100 x 20 x 740mm softwood
  • J Back support 100 x 20 x 740mm softwood
  • K Armrest extensions (2) 100 x 20 x 320mm softwood
  • L Seat slats (4) 100 x 20 x 590mm softwood

You'll also need

75, 50 and 35mm screws; exterior PVA; Cabot’s Water-Based Garden Furniture Oil

Here's how

Step 1

Pallets are not designed to come apart easily, as they travel around the globe, carrying heavy objects, in none-too-gentle conditions. When you’re pulling them apart be as careful as possible to maximise the amount of usable timber you get. It’s best to use softwood pallets, and these just happen to be easiest to get as they are often not re-used. Ours were 1100mm square, with decking 100 x 25mm thick and strings 100 x 50mm thick. To pull them apart, hammer a pinch bar under the outside corners of each piece of decking and lever up. Work from each corner and once loose, loosen the middle of the deck from the stringer underneath. When both of these are loose, you can lever up and use the pinch bar to help the far end to come loose.

Step 2

As you pull off the boards, hammer the nails back through the decking and pull them out. Nothing halts a day’s work more quickly than a rusty nail through a foot, and it’s much easier to stack the timbers if they’re flat. Don’t just bend them over as they will have to come out some time anyway.

Step 3

Clamp a timber batten as a stop to your workbench, then sand each decking and string piece to remove any splinters. Use a belt sander with a medium belt and sand until roughly smooth without making the timber look too new. You can also run sander over any sharp arrises to remove splinters.

Step 4

Set up 2 spare battens on your workbench to give a right angle. Cut front rail (A) and sloping legs (B) to length, then screw rail to legs. Gluing with exterior PVA will increase strength of joints.

Step 5

From inside of front rail, measure 450mm back along sloping legs, then screw back rail (C) in place with 75mm screws, making sure it’s square to the run of the legs.

Step 6

Cut both front legs (D) to the required length, then measure 400mm up from the bottom and square a line across inside face of each leg. Glue and clamp sloping leg assembly to 1 front leg, so the top front corner of the rail is on the line and the bottom front corner of the sloping leg is flush with the front of the leg.

Step 7

Use a builder’s square to make sure front leg is standing straight when front corners are aligned and the back of sloping leg is on your workbench. This may take a little adjustment so all points are in their correct position, but the clamp will hold it in place. When everything is right, screw in place with three 50mm screws. Repeat for other side.

Step 8

Cut a curve at the end of each slat (E-G) using whatever suits width of panels, then cut out with a jigsaw.

Step 9

Find centre of back rail and measure 50mm to each side. Square down rail, then screw middle back slat to rail between lines and flush with the bottom. Use one 35mm screw at this stage. Then add other slats beside the first, aligning the bottom edge of each with bottom of back rail and fanning out at the top. Again use only 1 screw at this stage.

Step 10

Use Bracket Diagram to draw shape of a bracket (H) on a 100 x 20mm plank, then cut out with a jigsaw. Sand, then use it as a template to mark out other 3 brackets and cut them out. Screw brackets to outer sides of front legs, 2 on each side, flush at top and spaced about 10mm in from front and back to create a quirk.

Step 11

Cut armrests (I) and back support (J) and shape a 30mm radius on front inside corner of armrest and back outside corner of both armrest and back support. Glue and screw back support to underside of armrests with four 35mm screws in each joint.

Step 12

Feed armrest assembly around back of slats and rest it on top of front legs. The overlap of armrests inside the leg should be 25mm. Ensure armrest is level, then screw outer back slats to back support, adjusting them so gaps are even. Drive in screws to secure armrest to front leg. Add second screws at bottom of slats.

Step 13

Use Armrest Extension Diagram to mark and cut out 2 armrest extensions (K). Screw these to ends of armrests and screw down onto brackets as well.

Step 14

Screw seat slats (L) in place with even gaps between individual slats and back slats. Before screwing on front slat, use a plane to round off front edge. Give chair a sand, then apply 2 coats of furniture oil.

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