Build Your Own Folding Chair Using Wooden Pallets

I love repurposing wooden pallets. The wood is free and relatively easy to use. I was inspired by a plan I found on Readymade.com. The design is ingenious. Unfortunately, the site gives no credit to the designer. That’s a shame.

The more I studied the design, the more I liked/disliked it. I like a folding chair that is sturdy and lightweight. I dislike the design because the original won’t fold very well.

After playing around with the design, I worked out a cardboard design that will fold. Cardboard, Popsicle sticks or miniature lumber is a great way to work out a design before cutting materials.

Here is my version of the design.

You will need:

  • · One or two pallets
  • · General woodworking tools
  • · Sandpaper, wood sealer or paint
  • · Measuring and marking tools
  • · Drill and bits
  • · Six each ½” carriage bolts, each 3 ½” long
  • · Six each ½” cap nuts
  • · Eighteen each ½” washers
  • · One box decking screws, 1 ½” long
  • · One box #10 galvanized wood screws, 1″ long
  • · Construction glue
  • · Two spring clamps

Before beginning on the pallets, build one as a mock-up first. This will help you to visualize the project and make changes to the dimensions, materials or design for your best comfort.

Step One:

Clean both pallets with mild soap and water. Allow to dry thoroughly.

Choose the first pallet and use this as the first pallet.

Number the supporting boards as 1,2 and 3.

Remove all the slats on the side of the supports with the curve.

On the second pallet, carefully remove all the slats. Set the wood aside.

Step Two:

Lay the first pallet slat side down.

Mark the inside of the slats between boards 1 and 2. Make these marks very clear.

Turn the pallet over. On the bottom board, measure from the side of board one to the outside of board 2. Record this measurement.

This sounds a little confusing, but it will come together.

Boards 1 and 2 will form the top and bottom of the chair. They should be equal in length. If they are not, make them so now.

Carefully remove all the slats from the front.

Step Three:

Measure the boards at their thinnest point and cut so each board is even. Do this on all three boards. They need to match.

Take two boards from the second pallet and do the same. Set two of these boards aside.

Cut boards 1 and 2 to 36″ in length. You can cut them longer if you wish.

Step Four:

Measure 4″ up from the bottom of two of the boards and attach a slat cut to the bottom board measurement. Mark, center and drill a hole 13.5″ up from the bottom.

Take a slat from the second pallet. Rip it to 1″ wide and cut two pieces, each 18″ long.

Place boards 1 and 2 flat; the bottom board should be on top.

Place each 1″ board inside the boards at the top and back. The chair back slats will attach here. Glue in place with the construction adhesive and screws.

Cut three slats using the inside markings in step two. Measure the distance first to ensure the boards fit. Attach the boards to the strips with construction adhesive and screws.

We’ll refer to this as the chair back now.

Step Five:

Now let’s make the seat. Take board 3 and cut two pieces, each 15″ long. These will fit inside boards 1 and two.

Take the chair back and measure 4″ up from the first drill hole. Drill another hole at this point in boards 1 and two. Measure 2″ and center marks on each end of the pieces.

Attach the pieces to the insides of the boards by threading a washer onto a carriage bolt, thread the bolt through the outside of board 1, attach a washer, then one piece, another washer and then finish with the cap nut. Do the same on the other side.

Measure the distance across the two pieces. Cut one slat to fit across the boards. Flip up to ensure the seat folds well. Attach a second board. Flip up again. Finish with a last board. The seat should still flip up easily.

Step Six:

Take the boards you cut from the second pallet. Cut two pieces, each 30.5″ long. Measure, center and drill a hole 1 ½” from one end on each board. Attach each to the outside of the chair seat using the same carriage bolt/washer method for the inside seat.

Step Seven:

It would be nice to have a helper with the next step. Stand the chair up against a board or pole, or have a helper hold it. Move the long slats against the outside chair back until the seat is level or just tilted back a little. Clamp in place and do the same to the other side. Mark the boards and make sure the measurements are the same.

As before, mark and center a drilling point. Drill through the board. Attach with the carriage bolt.

Flip the seat up and down. You can round the ends of the boards for ease of movement. If the chair does not fold as desired, remove the carriage bolts from the legs and store in a plastic bag. Flip the seat up and store the chair.

Step Eight:

You can sand now, or sand the pieces as you make the chair. Stain and seal, or prime and paint your new chair any color or pattern you wish. Save the other wood pieces to make a small serving table, tray or other useful item.

Source: The author of this article has over 40 years of experience in diverse forms of DIY, home improvement and repair, crafting, designing, and building furniture, outdoor projects, RV’ing and more.

Source: Staff Article, “Folding Pallet Chair,” Readymade.com website, no date given

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