×
×

DIY Pine Branch Chair

Craft a one-of-a-kind piece of furniture using the supplies Mother Nature has to offer.

article image
Marianne Svärd Häggvik and Kje

The garden is a place for enjoyment and relaxation, but it’s also a place where my creativity thrives. So when my friend Eva told me about the beautiful garden furniture she grew up with — made of gnarled branches — I decided to try making furniture with what was lying around my property.

During an autumn storm, several trees fell around our house. The logs were put to use, but the branches would’ve been thrown out or burned for firewood. Instead, I saved a few and built myself a rustic chair. While it has no straight lines, the chair is comfortable, rugged, and charming. It looks right at home in a corner of my garden by the blueberry bushes.

When building a chair out of tree branches, you can’t really follow a detailed spec drawing. Instead, you’ll have to work with the material and allow the chair to grow organically, step by step. To see what the chair will ultimately look like, you can tie its parts together with string or straps at the beginning. If you’re not satisfied with the shape, you can look for other branches that fit together better.

Tools & Materials

  • String or straps
  • Utility knife
  • Pruning saw
  • Scissors
  • Marker
  • Bar clamps
  • Jigsaw
  • Drill
  • Level
  • Orbital sander and 180-grit sandpaper
  • Pine branches, 3⁄4 inch to 21⁄3 inches in diameter (10 to 15)
  • Wooden plank, 16 inches square and 11/2 inch thick (1)
  • Self-tapping decking screws, 1 to 31/2 inches long (20 to 30)

Directions

Let’s Get Started

article image

Image Marianne Svärd Häggvik and Kje

Step 1

1. Choose two branches of equal thickness that are naturally bent; these will serve as the front legs and side pieces. Piece these together with branches between the legs and the rear, and secure all in place with string or straps. Make sure the legs are a little longer than needed so you can trim them down to size later, as necessary.

Note: Oak and pine branches are usually crooked and gnarled, which makes them excellent for building chairs. Since pine trees had fallen around our house, that’s what I used.

article image

Image Marianne Svärd Häggvik and Kje

Step 2

2. Select two fairly straight branches for the crossbars that the seat will rest on. Fasten one crossbar between the front legs and the other between the back legs.

article image

Image Marianne Svärd Häggvik and Kje

Step 3

3. Disassemble the chair, and remove the bark on the branches with a knife.

article image

Image Marianne Svärd Häggvik and Kje

Step 4

4. Reassemble the branches, and tie the chair together with string.

article image

Image Marianne Svärd Häggvik and Kje

Step 5

5. Cut a piece of paper to fit inside the legs and back of the chair. Make the paper approximately the same shape as the frame’s outer line. Position the paper under the frame and attach it with clamps.

article image

Image Marianne Svärd Häggvik and Kje

Step 6

6. Trace along the frame’s inner edge on the paper template.

article image

Image Marianne Svärd Häggvik and Kje

Step 7

7. Remove the template from the frame. Draw a second line on the paper about 1 inch outside the first one. Cut along the outer line.

article image

Image Marianne Svärd Häggvik and Kje

Step 8

8. Turn the plank so the growth rings point up. Otherwise, the seat will become bowl-shaped when it settles.

article image

Image Marianne Svärd Häggvik and Kje

Step 9

9. Mark the paper template’s outer lines on the plank, and cut out the seat with a jigsaw.

article image

Image Marianne Svärd Häggvik and Kje

Step 10

10. Adjust the blade on the jigsaw to a 45-degree angle.

article image

Image Marianne Svärd Häggvik and Kje

Step 11

11. Miter the top edge on the seat’s back and side edges.

article image

Image Marianne Svärd Häggvik and Kje

Step 12

12. On the seat, mark out how much wood must be removed to insert one of the legs. Cut out the portion with the jigsaw, and test to see if the leg fits in the hole. Deepen the hole as needed. Repeat for all legs.

article image

Image Marianne Svärd Häggvik and Kje

Step 13

13. Place the seat on the crossbars, miter side up, and tie the chair together with string and straps.

article image

Image Marianne Svärd Häggvik and Kje

Step 14

14. Try to fit the seat into the frame. Mark the points where the seat must be tweaked, and trim it until you’re satisfied.

article image

Image Marianne Svärd Häggvik and Kje

Step 15

15. Fasten the seat to the top edge of the frame with self-tapping screws.

article image

Image Marianne Svärd Häggvik and Kje

Step 16

16. Ensure that the seat rests firmly on the crossbars. Screw the crossbars to the legs. Then, screw the legs, the back edge, and the side branches so the legs are sturdy.

article image

Image Marianne Svärd Häggvik and Kje

Step 17

17. From below, drill screws through the crossbars into the seat to strengthen the chair.

article image

Image Marianne Svärd Häggvik and Kje

Step 18

18. Turn the chair upright and put shims under the chair’s legs to make it level. Check both directions to make sure the seat is level.

article image

Image Marianne Svärd Häggvik and Kje

Step 19

19. Mark the ends of the legs that are too long, and then trim with a pruning saw. Check that the chair seat is level.

article image

Image Marianne Svärd Häggvik and Kje

Step 20

20. Sand the seat smooth. If you don’t have access to an electric sander, use sandpaper.

article image

Image Marianne Svärd Häggvik and Kje

Step 21

21. Choose two rounded branches to serve as armrests. Remove the bark, and cut the branches to fit the chair. Screw the armrests into the frame.

article image

Image Marianne Svärd Häggvik and Kje

Step 22

22. To decorate the back of the chair, find a lightly bent branch and remove its bark. Screw the branch to the back of the chair. Trim off any small branches, and the chair is finished!


Marianne Svärd Häggvik is an engineer based in Stockholm and the owner of Heliconia Garden, a garden design company in Sweden. This is an excerpt from her book Rustic Garden Projects: Step-by-Step Backyard Décor from Trellises to Tree Swings, Stone Steps to Stained Glass (Skyhorse Publishing).

Published on Jan 17, 2021
Tagged with: | | |

Grit Magazine

Live The Good Life with GRIT!