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Winning designs for laid-back lounging.

These chairs won top honors--and each cost less than $75 to make

DESIGNS FOR OUTDOOR LIVING, A COMPETITION sponsored by Sunset Magazine, set more than a score of the country's brightest design students at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, to the task of devising projects for a Western deck, patio, or garden. Here we present the first- and second-place winners: both are chaises, and both rely on plywood and dowels as their primary materials; each can be built for less than $75. But, more important, both are highly imaginative designs you won't find in any store, yet you can reasonably build them yourself over a long weekend.

Besides wood-finishing supplies, the only tools you'll need are a drill, a saber saw, a sander, and various fasteners listed in the instructions below. With both chairs, take pains to drill the dowel holes straight (a guide attachment for your drill will ensure accurate bores).


This sleek, colorful design has no moving parts, yet the back is adjustable depending on which pair of dowels it's dropped between. The tightly spaced dowel platform is surprisingly comfortable. But what made it a winner is its fanciful swooping lines that make it as much a piece of garden sculpture as it is furniture.

Begin with a 4- by 8-foot sheet of 5/8-inch birch plywood; transfer the pattern shown on page 121, then cut out each piece with a saber saw (for the identical base and leg support pieces, you can transfer one, cut it out, then use it as template for the other). Glue pairs of the 3- by 5-inch spacer blocks together to make four 1 1/4-inch-thick blocks; round the corners as shown in the drawing.

Clamp the base pieces together, then drill a 7/8-inch hole with its center 9 inches in from the rear of the bases and 5/8 inch down from the top. Separate the base pieces, then glue and nail with 2 1/2-inch (8d) finishing nails the three 6- by 21-inch cross-braces between the base pieces at the positions shown in the drawing. On the outside faces of the assembled base, attach the four spacer blocks with glue and 1 1/4-inch (3d) nails at the positions shown in the drawing.

Clamp the two legs together and drill the 29 7/8-inch holes; centers are 5/8 inch down from the top edge and 1 7/8 inches apart.

From 7/8-inch dowels, cut 29 pieces 26 inches long and 1 piece to 22 1/4 inches.

Sand all the plywood edges, sanding smooth where necessary, then pain the parts. Fernandes painted the base aqua, the leg supports light green, and the back piece and the dowels pale yellow (dowel ends were left natural).

Once the pieces are painted and dry, attach the 22 1/4-inch dowel in the base. Nail it from the top edge with 1-inch (2d) nails, then attach the leg supports to the base with glue and 1 1/4-inch (3d) nails so that the rear dowel in the leg support rests on the base and its center is 3 1/2 inches forward from the center of the dowel set in the base. When the triangular leg supports are positioned correctly, they are 1/4 inch off the ground, and the center of the forwardmost dowel is 12 inches off the ground.

Slide the remaining dowels into place and set all with 2d nails through the top edge of the plywood.

Complete the project by filling the nail holes and touching up with the appropriate color paint. The back slips between dowel pairs; stops rest on the top edge of the leg supports, and the lower section of the back stops against the cross-braces on the base.


The logo for Victor Robinson's entry was lettered such that the X in relax is the profile of his elegant chaise. The simple X-frame is accentuated by the bright purple stain on the chaise sides. For ample comfort, foam pipe insulation pads the dowel platform. Arm, leg, and side pieces are cut from a 2- by 6-foot piece of 3/4-inch birch plywood. Transfer the pattern on page 121 to the plywood, then cut out the eight pieces. Clamp the left and right sides together, and sand the edges so that the two sides match. Then, while the sides are still clamped together, drill 1-inch holes for the 27 dowels that form the platform. Centers for the holes are 1 1/4 inches down from the top edge of the plywood and 2 3/4 inches apart; they begin 1 1/2 inches in the form the top (the widest end) and end 2 1/2 inches from the tip of the foot.

Glue the inner arm and leg pieces onto the arm-legs; they will fit together so that the finished 1 1/2-inch-thick pieces sandwich each side piece (the side pieces' dowel hole, ninth from the top, passes through each arm-leg piece 2 inches in from its forward edge). Sand the arm-leg edges even and smooth. Drill the 1-inch hole in the arm-leg piece through that ninth dowel hole in each side piece; drill two additional 1-inch holes 2 inches up from the bottom and 1 1/4 inches in from the sides of each arm-leg piece.

From 1-inch dowels, cut 26 pieces to 22 1/2 inches, and 3 pieces to 24 inches.

Stain and finish all the parts. Robinson used thinned oil-base paint to get the deep purpose color on the sides; he then coated all the pieces (including the sides) with two coats of polyurethane--one coat now, one at the project's end.

With a sharp knife, cut foam insulation (for 1-inch pipe) to 23 inches (2 inches over the 21-inch space between the sides to allow for shrinkage in the weather). Paint thinner will take any unwanted printing off the foam.

For the final assembly, slide two 22 1/2-inch dowels through the foam, then set them in place through the 8th and 10th dowel holes from the top (these are the only two that can't slide into place from the outside of the sides). Avoid breaking open the partially cut seams on the foam.

Thread the rest of the dowels into place, setting the foam in place and sliding the dowels through from one side to the other. Fit the three longer dowels through the arm-leg sections. Position dowels so they are flush with the outer surfaces of the sides and the arm-legs.

Glue all the dowels into place. Drill 2-inch-deep 3/16-inch holes through the top edge of the sides into the center of each 1-inch dowel, then glue a 2-inch-long 3/16-inch dowel plug into each hole. Finish with another coat of polyurethane.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Crosby, Bill
Date:Jun 1, 1993
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