Folding beach chair

Don't let the fabric scare you away from this chair—no needle and thread needed!

By Art Mulder

beach chair

Photo by Roger Yip

Folding, canvas camping chairs are everywhere. They’re light, inexpensive and they collapse into small, cylindrical packages. They’re also flimsy, easily broken and bad for your back. I made a wooden chair as an alternative; plus, it is quick to make, lightweight and sturdy. The parts also nest together for carrying and storage. And, of course, this chair is quite comfortable for lounging on the beach.

It is rare that I make a full-scale mock-up of a project; sometimes, I’ll mock up a joint to see how pieces go together or I’ll put together some section of the project to test my chosen finish. But an entire mock-up out of scrap wood? Almost never. With this chair project, I built not only one mock-up but three full-scale mock-ups before I was sure I had the design right. The pursuit of comfort was the reason.

There are many variables involved in making a chair that’s both pleasant to sit on and stable: the seat width, the angle at which the two sections interlock, the height, how the seat fits into the back for storage and portability, the height of the seat above the ground, and so on. Using the mock-ups, I was able to remove and reattach pieces as I fiddled with fit and comfort.

beach chair

The simple beach chair consists of two basic parts: the seat back (which is made of both wood and fabric) and the seat itself. These two fit together for easy carrying and come apart to make storage a breeze.




Part Material Size (T x W x L*) Qty.

Back legs maple 3/4" x 1 1/2" x 32" 2
Lower crosspieces maple 1/2" x 2" x 15" 2
Upper crosspiece cherry 1/2" x 1 1/2" x 15" 1
Seat legs maple 3/4" x 1 1/2" x 22" 2
Seat crosspiece cherry 3/4" x 1 1/2" x 11 1/2" 1
Seat slats maple/cherry 3/8" x 1 1/2" x 15" 5
Back fabric cotton canvas approx. 24" x 20" 1

* Length indicates grain direction

Recommended Tools





sewing machine (optional)


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