Jess builds a garden chair

Jess’s garden chair project by Les Kenny

Jess builds a garden chairJess’s first build. Jess came to build a garden chair – a nice one at that, and she done pretty good. She had a determination to cut straight lines and wouldn’t give up or be hurried until she did just that. Her favorite tool was the jig-saw. She wouldn’t go near the drop saw until I finally managed to coax her, and then she wondered what all the fuss was about. A great cheerful person, who battled on even with the flu. Unfortunately she had to cut the course a little short because of holiday arrangements, but she managed most of it. See her story below, followed by a sequence of photos, and at the end of the page is a comments section if you would like to add your tuppence worth.

Jess sitting in her garden chair

See a brief video at YouTube
Plans and step-by-step instructions

This is an article in the ‘Novice Women Woodworkers‘ series.

Jess says…
Great experience, thoroughly enjoyed it.
I have used a hand saw a few times but never power tools. My reluctance to use power tools was because I was intimidated by them-never used them in my life and always thought I wouldn’t be able to cut the wood properly.

The initial project that I was going to complete was an outdoor bench, but due to time constraints halfway through we had to change the project to a chair.
The project was pretty easy, however due to my lack of confidence in my ability to use power tools, I still found it challenging. I also had to get used to reading the building plans.
Les’ calming attitude helped a lot with calming my anxiety.
The first session I was dropped in the deep end and I learned how to use the circular power saw, we both thought I wasn’t able to use the mitre saw due to my small hand span. We later found out that I could… but more of that adventure soon.
The first step was to create the legs, using the circular power saw the progress was slower-me being a perfectionist also didn’t help.
At the start I found it difficult to cut a straight line using the circular power saw. If your initial cut into the wood is straight, then generally the rest of your cut is straight. If you push the saw through too fast it will vibrate a lot in your hand. You just need to guide the saw, with hardly any pressure. Slow and steady wins.
Halfway through the first session we realised I was able to use the mitre saw, however I was still scared to use it. The second session Les was having none of that and encouraged me to try it.
I thought why not, I came here to challenge myself.
I loved it! You don’t have to worry so much about cutting a straight line. You line up the cut before you start, make sure the piece of wood is flush against the back, release the safety and start by guiding the blade down and gliding the blade towards you if the wood is thick.

The mitre saw made it so much easier and faster! I have been converted.
The best way to describe the drill driver is temperamental. I didn’t realise that with driving it is all about being in line with the screw not the drill driver itself being straight. If I wasn’t in line with the screw it would make a horrible noise. If I was in line with the screw it would work smoothly. Funny when I thought Les wasn’t watching is the time that I drilled perfectly.
I have to say my favorite tool was the jigsaw, and no not because I love completing jigsaw puzzles. I think this was the only tool I knew the name of. As soon as I made the first cut I knew this was my tool.
The blade in a jigsaw is more flexible than other saws, which can be a bit strange. I had to cut a rounded edge on the arm of the chair. It is not easy to manipulate the blade, again it is all about guiding the blade. It takes a lot of cuts to get what you want, you need patience with this tool. But the patience pays off with the finished product-a cut that you can be very proud of.
Unfortunately due to time constraints, I wasn’t able to complete as much as I wanted of the project. Les had to complete a lot of it. The parts I did complete I am very proud of. Completing these sessions has given me the confidence to say yes I can use power tools. I can’t wait for my next project. One that I will complete 100% of it!

A sequence of photos

Jess's garden chair wood being cut
Cutting the lengths for the legs

Jess making cross-cut cuts
Making multiple cross-cuts

Jess cleaning out the chair rebates
Cleaning out the cut-out

Jess concentrating abbout the garden chair
Mmmm… A bit of concentration

Jess rounding the top of the garden chair legs
Cutting the round at the top of a back leg

Jess marking a back leg of the garden chair
Marking the other back leg

Jess making cut-outs in the legs of the garden chair
Making cut-outs in the front legs

cut-outs in the garden chair front legs
Cleaning the cut-outs in the front legs

Jess proud of her garden chair project
Pretty cool eh!

Jess using a drop saw
Introduction to a drop-saw

Jess assembling the garden chair
Putting it all together

Jess screwing the garden chair
Mmmm, that one’s a bit awkward

Jess sitting on her garden chair
I made it and it’s all mine

Plans and step-by-step instructions here

1 thought on “Jess builds a garden chair

  1. Curious as to the difference between the chair and the bench length wise? Is it designed for 2 or 3 people?
    Like the chair design!

Leave a Comment