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Working strictly with the 2x4s that were included in the Craig’s List haul several months ago, I built a patio chair this weekend. You folks could do this in just a few hours, but I have to take frequent and extended breaks. Even with breaks, I’m a hurting unit right now and will need to take a couple of days off. However, as I recline with my bottle of Tylenol, binge watching Netflix, while my back and hip realign themselves, I will be smiling with pride, because this is the first of our many projects that I built entirely without help.

The original project plans, not using 2x4s, by Ana White, can be found here: http://ana-white.com/2010/05/plans/simple-modern-outdoor-sectional-armless-section

The above plans were modified for using 2x4s which changes the “cut list”. If you plan to make yours out of 2x4s, which to me are sturdier as well as less expensive, use the cut list on this page: http://www.morelikehome.net/2011/06/our-new-outdoor-sectional.html

To the above cut list, you should add another 2×4 cut to 21″. As you will see in my photos, the chair really needs another back board midway between the top of the back and the back of the seat. This board is not added to the 2×4 cut list, yet it is shown in her photos of the finished sectional.  Ana White’s page doesn’t show this board at all in her diagrams and only shows cushions resting against the back, which doesn’t look comfy.

patiochairsectionseatbottomFirst I put together the seat using the Kreg Pocket hole system. This photo shows the pocket holes at each end of the seat boards. This is the bottom of the chair seat which will be unseen unless someone turns the chair over to check my handiwork and that someone will likely not be invited back anytime soon. Using the pocket holes on the bottom saves you from screwing in from the top to attach everything, leaving visible screws if you care about things like that.

patiochairsectionalseatThis is the top side of the chair seat. See? No screws. It’s magic! This technique also seemed to make the seat very easy to attach to the support frame.

patiochairsectionalsupportAlthough neither of the above sites mentioned it, I used pocket holes in the support frame, not only to attach the frame to the front and back of the chair, but also to the seat boards. I placed three pocket holes along the top edge of each support board as well as the side and front aprons. I laid each piece out on the chair seat and marked where the pocket screws would connect to the seat and then drilled the holes. This took all guess work out of attaching the seat and, again, left no visible screws in the top of the seat.

Ana White’s measurements for the distance between the side apron and the seat support boards is only 3 inches. This is fine until you have to attach those support boards to the back apron. By then, you have all your side aprons and seat support boards firmly attached to the front apron, the seat, and the front legs. I saw this problem coming, so I added another inch and a half between the sides and the supports to allow for the drill. That still was not enough room for my small hands and my Ryobi drill to get between the boards and attach them to the back apron. I would suggest you leave at least 5″ inches of space between these boards.

patiochairsectionalbackIf you are making this chair from the 2x4s, remember that many of the measurements change. Be sure to check the site for the 2×4 built sectional for these changes. For instance, the back seat board for the 2×4 plan needs to be 13 and 1/2 inches from the ground, rather than the 15″ shown on the Ana White plan. One day, I’m going to do the smart thing and print these plans out so that I don’t have to burn wheelchair batteries running back and forth to my computer to double check! I did double check the measurements and instructions each step of the way, and wrote myself about a dozen sticky notes, so I didn’t have any major oopses. Also, you can really see in this picture that another board across the back is needed.

patiochairsectionalfrontHere is the finished patio chair. The plan is for a sectional which I hope to build. Ana White’s page shows how to attach the pieces to each other. To me, that defeats the purpose of having a sectional, so I’m not going to attach each piece. This way, if I need extra chairs by the pool or by the fire pit, I can just swipe a couple from the sectional.

Remember, this is reclaimed wood from Craig’s List. The boards are not perfect and, therefore, neither is the chair they’ve been used to build. If you’re using reclaimed wood, prepare for a few surprises. The board you cut so precisely to fit, may have just enough of a mild twist or bow that it doesn’t fit the way you expected. This is what they make wood clamps, power sanders and cuss words for.