Dock Chair


Lightweight, folding and portable, this chair is so simple to make you’ll want a pair – or more.
By Simon Watts
Pages: 64-67

From the June 2009 issue #176
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I’ve always disliked the Adirondack chair and have never understood its popularity. I find it uncomfortable because the human frame does not bend at right angles and also, because it neither folds nor stacks, it’s an awkward item to move and difficult to store.

When my daughter Rebecca showed me a wooden folding chair she had found in the attic of an old house in Nova Scotia, I was immediately struck by the ingenuity of the design, which combines comfort and convenience. Anyone familiar with Mies Van der Rohe’s Barcelona chair will sense echoes of that famous and widely imitated design.

What I like to call my “dock chair” requires no special hardware and can be made with practically any wood, or combination of woods, in just a few hours. Anyone reasonably handy can make a pair of them in a weekend.

I made the first version using native pine and red oak slats fastened with bronze screws. I painted it signal yellow because the Nova Scotian fogs are notorious, and I didn’t want to get run down by some errant vessel.

You’ll see from the drawing at right that one frame fits inside the other with a clearance of 1/8″. This is so one frame can slide into the other for storage or moving, as demonstrated below by our colorful local boatbuilder Kevin Wambach.

I modified the original curves to make it lighter and more elegant and this version is shown in the drawing. I used Port Orford cedar for my newer version, so the chair needs no finish and can be left out in the weather – rain or shine – and it will just turn an agreeable shade of grey. I didn’t bother to make cushions for this chair but it would be no great matter to do so. I would use canvas – natural or synthetic – for the cover and stuff it with kapok. It would then double as a life raft if I fell off the dock.

Online Extra

To download full size patterns of the Deck/Dock Chair leg profiles in PDF format, click here.


From the June 2009 issue #176
Buy this issue now