How to Build a Fishing Chair

Sure, you can go to the big department store and buy an aluminum and polyester cloth chair for less than 20 bucks, but this chair can be built from scratch with scrap lumber in less time -- which means you can be on your way to your favorite fishing hole even sooner.


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    Gather the tools and materials you will need. Keep it simple! A circular saw, drill with a screw-driving attachment, and an extension cord are all the power equipment used for the chair in these photos. Along with the tools, some 2 inch (5.1 cm) wood screws, scrap cedar 1X2s from a construction dumpster, a treated 2X4 8 foot long, and a tape and square were all that were used for this project.
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    Rip some 2x4 lumber 1 12 inches (3.8 cm) wide, various lengths. For reference, the actual angles and cut lengths for this chair are listed under Things You'll Need. Note that these can be modified to fit the individual's preferences.
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    Find a flat surface to lay out your pieces. The photo will illustrate this step better than it can be described, but basically, you have the seat support intersecting with the back frame at about a 53 degree angle. Next, a rear leg support intersects with the seat, about 8 to 10 inches (20.3 to 25.4 cm) from the back frame.
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    Align the back and seat frame members so the angle suits you, then place the back leg member underneath in a position that will allow you to scribe it to cut to length after you have fit the rest of the frame together.
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    Mark each framing member where it intersects the adjacent one. This will give you the angle of each cut, and because the seat and back angle are subject to personal preference, we won't go into great detail here.
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    Cut the marks you have scribed with your circular saw, and dry fit the pieces together. You may want to tack them with a wood screw to get an idea if the finished chair will sit at the right height and angle for you.
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    Attach the frame in the configuration illustrated in the photo, using 2 inch (5.1 cm), number 12 wood screws. Countersink them if you prefer, but keep in mind, these steps describe building a fishing chair, not a showroom piece of furniture.
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    Attach the front leg, fastening it through the joint of the rear leg and seat support to give this connection increased strength.
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    Stand the chair up on your work surface, and tilt it so that it is at the correct height and amount of reclining angle you want, then scribe either the front, rear, or both legs to cut them to length. If you make a mistake here, you can always unscrew the mis-cut piece and replace it, but cut long, it is easier to lower the chair seating height than to raise it.
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    Cut strips of wood 1 12 inches (3.8 cm) wide, and 34 inch (1.9 cm) thick, about 20 inches (50.8 cm) long. These are your seat slats, and you can cut longer slats for wider seats, or reduce the length for narrow fisher persons.
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    Attach three of the slats, one at the point where the back intersects the seat, one at the front of the seat, and one at the top of the back, as shown in the photo. Use one screw in each end so you can rack the assembly if it is out of square.
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    Square up your chair frame. If you prefer, you can eye-ball the assembly, but using a steel square will insure the finished chair doesn't wobble when it is set on a flat surface.
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    Finish attaching the slats for the seat and back of your chair. Depending on how deep the seat is, and how high the back is, you will need a total of about 20 slats. These can be spaced half an inch or so apart so water will drain through them if left in the rain.
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    Rip 1/2 inch (5.1 cm) thick strips of 1 1/2 inch (5.1 cm) wide lumber to attach to the back frame as a cross bracing to make the chair stable. Attach these strips as shown in the photo, after making sure the frame is square.
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    Cut the armrests, again, as shown in the photo. Here, since there was no thinner lumber laying around, a 2X4 was split width-wise to yield two 1X4s, about 19 inches (48.3 cm) long.
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    Attach your armrests to the top of the front leg posts, and to the back frame. This attachment should be very secure, since it reinforces the back frame and stabilizes the chair assembly.
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    Finish the chair if you like, but for all practical purposes, you are ready to go fishing.


  • These instructions detail creating a rough piece of furniture for a specific purpose, but you can use a jigsaw or bandsaw, a table saw, and a sander to make a very nice patio chair from the same design.
  • The front or rear legs can be shortened to make the chair set level, to make it more reclined, or to make the seat height more comfortable.


  • Use normal safety procedures when using power tools, including safety glasses, and a dust mask when cutting treated wood.
  • Make sure the screws are long enough to penetrate sufficiently, and have a strong hold, as they support the weight of the person seated in the chair.

Things You'll Need

  • Power tools, including a saw and drill with screw driving bit.
  • Lumber, including one 2X4 eight feet long, and several 1X2 strips for slats.
  • Cut List:
  • 2 X 2 Inch boards:
    • 21 1/2 inch (LP) 45 degree angle (X2) back leg
    • 27 inch (68.6 cm) Square to long point of 32 degree angle (X2) back frame
    • 17 inch (43.2 cm), (LP to LP) 15 degree/22 1/2 degree (X2) seat frame
    • 25 1/2 inch (5.1 cm), 5 degree (SP) to 15 degree (LP) (X2) Front leg/armrest support
  • 1 X 2 inch boards:
    • 18 inch (45.7 cm), square both ends for seat slats (about 15-20 pieces) seat/back slats
  • Two pieces of 1 X 4 inch, about 16 inches (40.6 cm) for arm rests.
  • Misc. strips for cross bracing.
  • 2 1/2 inch (5.1 cm) number 12 wood screws, galvanized or plated.
  • Tape measure and square are optional.

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