make a willow chair

This is a very simple chair. IF YOU WANT one of these chairs here is your chance; ALL the information you need to make it from scratch.I have taught this project in numerous workshops and these plans really work!

This is a "fun to make" EASY, Low - cost, Super - comfortable chair. This chair takes from 6 - 7 hours to build once you have the pieces ready.

If you want to make your chair without bark, you should harvest your sticks in early summer when the sap is running. Once you start peeling sticks, though, you are "committed" and pretty much have to peel them all. Some may peel very easily and others may be almost impossible to peel, causing difficulties. If you let sticks sit and dry out, they may split when you put nails into them; in such a situation, drill holes and use screws instead of nails. If you have to leave them for a week or two (maybe more) you can set them into a pail with some water. I have cut some in November, put them into a pail of water early in spring, and found them to sprout leaves. I much prefer mine WITH bark left on.

make a willow chair make a willow chair

To get started, here are the "Before" and "After" pictures of our chair:

willow bush make a willow chair

Yes, there are a few easy intermediate steps!

What you need:

a hammer, pocket-knife, saw, leather gloves, a drill, pruning shears, tape measure
- one piece of 1x4 lumber for support/bracing (prox 30 inches long)
- one piece of 2x4 lumber for support/bracing (prox 30 inches long)
- pattern for each side of the chair (full-size) SEE diagram below (each side is a mirror image of the other side)
- "T" support (30" piece of 2x4 with 30" piece of 1x4 across one end and a shorter piece 1x4 at other end)
- nails: various kinds and lengths (see it in use, in Step 9)

sticks for a chair

This is the list of sticks for the chair:

1.5 inch sticks: (for the frame)
2 back legs @ 35 inches long
2 front legs @ 27 inches long
9 horizontal braces @ 25 inches long
4 armrests @ 27 inches long

3/4 inch sticks: (may be up to 1 inch)
4 diagonal braces @ 37 inches long (sides and back)
2 diagonal braces @ 29 inches long (under the seat)
1 for in front of seat stringers, 25 inches long
1 "hoop" for the backrest, prox 50 inches long

3/8 inch sticks/twigs: "Stringers" (may be up to half inch)
22 for seat, @ 22 inches long
22 for backrest, 35 inches long (will be trimmed later)

Detailed Instructions for assembly:

Before you start with the wood, make your pattern on a large piece of paper.

make a willow chair

1. SAFETY FIRST; PLEASE be very careful! Don't rush yourself and get careless. Please use leather gloves!

2. Pick out the 2 front legs and 2 back legs. Bevel the top end of each stick. From here on, bevel both ends of each stick you pick out, except the seat and backrest stringers.

3. Lay one front leg and one back leg on the pattern.

4. Lay side brace 25" on the two legs as shown, 3.5 inches from the center to the bottom of the legs and nail into place (2.5" nails).

5. Lay 25" side brace on the two legs as shown; the middle of the front-end should be 14.5 inches from the bottom of the front leg and the back 13 inches from the bottom of the back leg. Nail into place (2.5" nails).

6. Lay 27" armrest onto the legs and nail only to the back 23.5 inches from the bottom of. Drive your nail thru the front of the armrest, but not into the front leg. Drill a hole for the nail into the front leg and then drive the nail home.

make a willow chair

7. Lay one of the four 37 inch diagonal braces on this and nail it to the armrest and the two 25" braces using 1 5/8 inch paneling nails.

make a willow chair

8. Set this assemblage aside, turn the pattern over and make the opposite side.

That done, we now have the two sides of the chair:

(NOTE that they are not identical; one is a "mirror image" of the other; the one on the left in this picture is for the LEFT SIDE of the chair and the other is for the RIGHT SIDE.)

make a willow chair

9. Now we are going to put the two sides of the chair together, using the 25-inch sticks.

Hang the two sides on the edge of your workbench so that the bottoms of the front legs are on the edge. Nail one 25" brace into place, laying snugly on top of the 25" brace which is on the bottom of the sides, with the ends flush with the outside edge of that earlier 25" brace. For this, use the "T" support.

make a willow chair

10. Turn the unit over and attach another 25" brace about 1 inch from the tops of the back legs. For this and the following steps, use the pieces of 1x4 and 2x4 for support as needed.

make a willow chair

11. Hang the chair so that the back legs are hanging on the edge of your table, and nail another 25" brace into place snugly up against the underside of the bottom 25" brace on each side and against the and the backside of the back legs.

make a willow chair

12. Set the unit on its back and put a 25" brace into place on top of the middle brace of each side. Its ends should be flush with the outside edge of the brace on the side of the chair. Nail into the back legs, rather than into brace on the side of the chair.

13. Turn the unit so that it is laying on the front legs, and attach the last 25" brace on the inside of the front legs.

make a willow chair

14. Lay the unit on its side and attach the inside parts of the 27" armrests, drilling the front legs to provide holes for the nails. If you do not drill first, you may split the tops of the front legs.

This is the FRONT view of the chair.

make a willow chair

15. Add the cross-bracing under the front of the seat using the two 29-inch x 3/4 inch braces. Make sure your chair is level, straight, and put a nail through these two braces where they cross.

make a willow chair

16. Tack a piece of 1x4 lumber across the chair, under brace which supports the rear of the seat, and up against the inside of the back legs, to line up the backrest stringers.

make a willow chair

17. Put the 25-inch stringer across the front of the chair, on the front legs, at the right height so that the seat stringers will butt up against it.

make a willow chair

18. Nail the seat and back stringers into place with 1 inch nails, starting at one side, and alternating; first one on the seat, then one on the back and so on. Leave the tops of the back loose for now; nail them down later. The back stringers sit on the 1x4 and the seat stringers are up against the 25-inch stringer you added at step 17. When all the back stringers are in place, remove the 1x4.

make a willow chair

19. Add the two 37-inch diagonal supports across the back as shown here.

make a willow chair

20. Turn the chair on its back and attach the backrest stringers to the cross-piece which is fastened to the tops of the rear legs.

make a willow chair

21. Insert the 50-inch x 3/4 inch "hoop" between the armrests, in front of the back stringers, and attach it to the back legs. Nail from the back, through the backrest stringers, into that hoop. Nail the hoop also to the 25" brace which is at the tops of the back legs.

22. Trim the tops of the backrest stringers leaving plenty sticking out to prevent them from splitting. NOTE the comment further down this page about OMITTING this step.

23. Inspect your chair for any nail points which may stick out and cause a hazard. As the wood dries and shrinks, repeat this check. It would be a good idea to sand the back legs so that they fit smoothly on the floor. Use "furniture cups" to protect your floor.

I read this on a website:

"If you mix linseed oil and turpentine gum of spirits together (4 to 1) and apply to your furniture once a year this will build up a great finish. Use a spray bottle and the job will be easier and faster."

make a willow chair

I made one chair a little bit different and here it is: (I skipped step 22)

make a willow chair

This is my super special chair; some day my kids will have to fight over this one; my Diamond Willow Chair.

YOUR OWN Property:

If YOU are an outdoor enthusiast, as I am, and are looking to buy, or lease or sell a "Recreational Property" then this page will interest you:

how to get Diamond Willow

in fact, tell EVERYBODY!

Diamond Willow Sticks

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