History unknown. I first made a couple of these chairs some six or seven years ago after obtaining a rough plan from a friend who used to make them in his spare time – not only for around his own house but as gifts for his friends and relatives. He got the plans by measuring off a chair that his father had made but has no idea where his father got the original plans. Regardless, the design has been around for some time.
The chair doesn’t appear to have a common name. I have heard it called by various names including “stick” chair, “Kentucky” chair, “garden” chair, “folding” chair, but to name a few. By my way of thinking, none of those names seem to be a perfect fit for this chair. So I’m going to call this chair “the Kentucky Stick Chair”. One thing’s for sure, the design isn’t confined to Kentucky. Maybe it originated there – who knows? Some feedback might enlighten us as to its origin.
Anyway, let’s re-visit the project, dust off the old sketch plans and build another.
This is a fun project.
In simply involves cutting all the pieces (sticks) to length, drilling holes through all the pieces at the given points, and then threading wire through the holes to tie all the pieces together.
Voila. A comfortable chair that can easily be folded up and stored, or carried.
The chair is a low, laid back, comfortable bucket-type chair.
Sit in it, and you won’t want to get out.
It is made out of a number of narrow pieces of wood (sticks) that are interwoven and held together with wire thread through holes drilled in all the individual pieces.
When finished, the chair can be easily folded up and stored, or carried.
Materials and cutting list
Stick chair project
Dimensions given throughout this project are in both imperial (inches) and metric (mm). The imperial measurements are given first, followed by the metric measurements in brackets ( ).
Wood size (width and thickness) and alternative sizes
The stock size used in this project is 1½” x 1¼” (45mm x 33mm). This is not a common size in a lot of places.
If you cannot obtain this stock size or anything close, then you can rip (cut lengthwise) an acceptable size from a wider stock. For example, you could rip three equal size pieces out of 2″ x 4″ (100mm x 50mm) stock.
The size (width and thickness) of the stock that you use does not have to be exactly the same size as the stock size used in this project, as long as it is within a bull’s roar and all the pieces are uniform.
What you will need
You will need 54ft (16.5m) of 1½” x 1¼” (45mm x 33mm) wood.
If you cannot source the stock size, read the above paragraph.
You will need 4 pieces of approximately 5/32″ (4mm) diameter galvanized mild steel wire – 32″ (800mm) long.
The wire size mentioned above is the approximate size (for rounding off purposes) of 6 gauge AWG (American Wire Gauge), which is the same as 8 gauge British SWG (Standard Wire Gauge), also referred to as number 8 wire (NZ).
The cutting list
Note: If you cannot obtain the exact stock size as listed in the cutting list below, refer to the paragraph ‘Wood size (width and thickness) and alternative sizes’ on the previous page.
|ITEM ID||DESCRIPTION||STOCK SIZE||LENGTH||HOW MANY PIECES|
|[a]||seat||1½” x 1¼” (45mm x 33mm)||15″ (375mm)||6|
|[b]||seat/back legs||1½” x 1¼” (45mm x 33mm)||35″ (875mm)||2|
|[c]||back longer||1½” x 1¼” (45mm x 33mm)||31½” (787mm)||4|
|[d]||back shorter||1½” x 1¼” (45mm x 33mm)||29¾” (745mm)||2|
|[e]||back/front legs||1½” x 1¼” (45mm x 33mm)||42″ (1050mm)||2|
|[f]||couplers||1½” x 1¼” (45mm x 33mm)||9⅛” (228mm)||9|
Plan drawing – Where to drill the holes
Below is a drawing of all the pieces giving the dimensions for the hole positions.
Also are drawings showing the wire threading layout.
Refer to the cutting list on the previous page for the lengths of the individual pieces.
Make all the holes ¼” (6mm) diameter and drill through the wider face of the wood.
In other words, the wood size is 1½” x 1¼” (45mm x 33mm), therefore drill through the 1½” (45mm) wide face.
Cutting, drilling, and aligning the pieces
Step 1. Cut and drill the pieces
- Cut all the pieces according to the cutting list on the previous page. There will be 25 pieces altogether and each piece will need to have 2 holes drilled through it.
- Make the holes ¼” (6mm) thick and ensure that they are all in the center of the wider side of the wood.
- Position two holes along each piece as follows:
Pieces (a) and (b). Measure from one end 1½” (37mm) and 12″ (300mm).
Pieces (c), (d), and (e). Measure from one end 1½” (37mm) and 25″ (625mm).
Pieces (f). Measure in from both ends 1¼” (31mm).
- Refer to the “where to drill the holes” drawing on the previous page for a bit of a visual guidance.
- Preferably use a drill press to ensure the holes are straight and at right angles to the face of the wood.
- This will make it easier to align the pieces and thread the wire.
Step 2. Align the seat pieces
- Lay the seat pieces in a row, spaced apart about a thickness of a piece, in this order (a) (a) (b) (a) (a) (b) (a) (a) with the holes lined up.
- Thread a piece of approximately 5/32″ (4mm) thick mild steel galvanized wire through the top holes. See the photo.
Note: The holes are ¼” (6mm) diameter. That is about 3/32″ (2mm) more than the thickness of the wire. A bit of play is necessary in order to easily thread the wire.
The assembly order by drawings.
A visual guidance showing the assembly process.
Threading the wire
Step 3. Add the couplers
- Position the couplers (f) in a row, one each side of the two end seat pieces and one in between each seat piece.
- Align the holes in the couplers with the lower holes in the seat pieces, and thread another length of wire through the holes.
Note: The wire is longer than need be at this stage. It can be cut to suit later on.
Step 4. Thread more wire
- Lay the back pieces in a row, spaced apart a thickness of a piece, in this order (e) (c) (d) (c) (c) (d) (c) (e) with the top holes in line.
- Thread wire through the top hole.
Note: The holes should be bigger than the wire to allow ease of threading. Refer to Step 1.
Step 5. Sit the back pieces on top of the seat pieces
- Move the back pieces over the seat pieces.
- Sit each back piece (e), (c), (d), (c), (c), (d), (c), (e), on top of each seat piece (a), (a), (b), (a), (a), (b), (a), (a), respectively.
For further visual reference see the ‘step 5 drawing’ at the bottom of the previous page.
More wire threading
Step 6. The last wire
- Slide the back pieces forward along the seat pieces so that the ends of the back pieces overhang the seat pieces by approximately 6½” (163mm).
For further visual reference see the ‘Step 6 drawing’ at the bottom of the previous page.
- Align the coupler holes with the back piece lower holes, and thread wire through them.
Step 7. All the wire in
And that’s all the wire in place.
Four lengths in all.
At this stage everything is fairly loose.
All the wire is longer than required and will be cut off in due course.
Coming along marvelously.
Step 8. Push the top in
- Give the top a bit of a squeeze in.
This is really the interesting part because you will now get to see how the chair unfolds.
Simply grab the wire at each end of the chair top and lift the unit up so it’s upright and on its legs.
Unfolding the chair
Step 9. The chair unfolding
- Simply grab the wire at each end of the chair top and lift the unit up so it’s upright and on its legs.
- This is one of the most rewarding stages of the project – seeing it fold into a chair.
Step 10. Squeeze the pieces in
- Squeeze the top of the back pieces together: i.e. just with your hands, push the pieces together until they touch.
- The wire is longer than necessary at this stage and will need trimming.
Step 11. Snip the wire
- When the top of chair is pushed together, cut the wire at each side leaving a “2” (50mm) overhang.
- (Note alternative fastening option before Step 14 which requires a shorter overhang.)
- This can be done with a tool such as a bolt cutter, a wire cutter, heavy pliers, or a hacksaw
Step 12. Fold and staple
- Fold the wire over and fasten with two galvanized wire staples, at each fold.
Final touches and a bit of sanding
Step 13. Snip more wire
- Ensure the sides (where the couplers are) and the seat ends are all pushed together, and cut the rest of the wire leaving a 2″ (50mm) overhang at every point.
- Then, with a hammer, bend the overhangs over against the wood and fasten each bend with two galvanized staples.
If you prefer a more polished look (fastening-wise), another option is to make a thread on the ends of the wire, and then secure each end with a washer and dome nut.
This would mean leaving approximately a ⅜” (10mm) overhang on the wire at each point rather than the 2″ (50mm) overhang and making a thread on the ends of the wire.
A thread can be easily made with a tool called a ‘die’.
Step 14. A bit of sanding
Finally, a bit of sanding.
Get rid of all the sharp edges and that’s about it.