How to Make Wooden Chairs

Updated April 17, 2017

Wooden chairs can be as simple or as elaborate as you want them to be. Of course, the simpler the design, the easier it is to build your own wooden chairs, but you can still make them special.

The instructions will contain exact measurements for an “average” size square wooden chair. You may, of course, adjust the measurements to accommodate you or the person who will be using the chair.

Cut rounded 2X4 lumber into four pieces, each 16 inches long. These will be your chair legs.

Cut a piece of flatter wood that is 15 inches thick into a twelve-inch square. This is your chair seat. Using your planing tool cut a “slope” into the back of the seat, so that the chair seat will have a three-fourths to one-inch “drop."

Cut a piece of wood into a twelve-inch square for your chair back. How thick you want this piece of wood to be will be up to you, as you will know how thick or thin you want the back to be. (See TIPS for more information.)

Sand each piece, starting with a coarse grit of sandpaper and finishing with a very fine grit as you reach your desired level of smoothness. Pay special attention to the seat and the seat back, as splinters left in these pieces can possibly become lodged in some very uncomfortable places on one’s body.

Paint, stain, or varnish your chair pieces at this time, and allow them to dry thoroughly. (See TIPS for more information.)

Using your power or hand saw, or a chisel or hammer if you wish, cut a notch into the tops of each chair leg and the back of the chair seat so that the chair back piece will fit securely.

Attach your chair seat to the chair legs, using your hammer, electric screwdriver, or nail gun and screws or nails.

Attach your chair back to the chair legs and seat, using your hammer, electric screwdriver, or nail gun and screws or nails. Make sure the chair back cannot “wiggle” back and forth.

Place pieces of felt, cut to fit, on the chair legs.

Enjoy your new chair!


When you purchase the wood for the chair, remember that you will need thicker, rounder pieces of wood for the legs, flatter pieces for the back (the thickness will depend on your preference) and thinner, flatter pieces for the seat.

When deciding how thick a piece of wood you will use for the back, remember that the seat will slope back, allowing for a three-fourths inch to one-inch “drop” between the very back of the seat and the seat back. Therefore, you do not want your seat back to be so thick as to “throw off” the slope of the seat.

Even if you plan on leaving your wood in its natural finish, you may still want to varnish it or at least put on a water sealant of some sort.


Take care when using power tools. Use proper eye, ear, and hand protection.

Make sure the chair is sturdy enough to support different weights of people. Serious injury could occur if the chair was to collapse with someone in it.

Make sure all parts of the chair that will come into contact with a person’s body are sanded smooth, and no splinters or sharp pieces of wood remain.

Things You'll Need

  • Oak, cherry, pine, birch, or other hardwood that will support weight. (See TIPS for more information)
  • Hammer, electric screwdriver, or nail gun; wood screws or nails
  • Measuring tape
  • Power or hand saw
  • Chisel
  • Planing tool
  • Sandpaper in varying “grits” and “brick” (holder) or electric sander
  • Paint, varnish, or stain
  • Four pieces of felt
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