Easy How to Build DIY Modern Outdoor Chairs

August 19, 2021

Hi! I'm Nicole

Fearless DIY. Sharing building project tutorials and interior design tips. Let’s build something beautiful together. For more projects, design tips and behind the scenes, follow me @designtobuild.nicole

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Ready to build outdoor chairs to match your outdoor sofa from last week? Let’s do it! But before we get started, let’s take a quick peak again at what my patio space looked like BEFORE I built my outdoor furniture…..

Pergola space with a couple rattan chairs and couch along with a planter

Our pergola area was in need of some TLC, for sure. Add the outdoor sofa and two outdoor chairs and WOW!

Pergola space with outdoor sofa, outdoor chairs and new planters

What a difference new furniture makes! And what could be better than buying new beautiful furniture? Saving money by building your own!! So let’s get to it. Let’s build a couple outdoor chairs!


(Instructions are based on ONE outdoor chair with the following measurements: 25″ tall; 28 3/8″ wide; 24″ deep). If building a different size, be sure to adjust measurements accordingly. If building two chairs, be sure to double the number of 2x4x8’s needed. Outdoor chair is built to fit 22″ x 24″ cushions. I purchased these cushions from Target.

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Materials Needed: 

5-2x4x8 pine boards

Kreg Jig Screws 2 1/2″

Wood Glue

GRK Wood Screws 2 1/2″(any brand wood screw will work; just sharing my favorite here)

Wood Filler

Paint or stain

Outdoor Poly

Tools Needed:

Miter saw



Kreg Jig

Table saw (OPTIONAL)

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NOTE: If you’ve never used a Kreg Jig, here’s a great tutorial.   If you don’t have one, I highly recommend buying one. You will use it all the time in the DIY realm! And it makes builds so much easier!

Step One: (OPTIONAL) Rip your boards 

This step is completely optional. I like to get rid of the manufactured edge on all of my 2x’s before starting any project. This is very easy, but does require a table saw. I’ll share the width I’m ripping them down to for this project and then explain how I do this…

Since this project consists solely of 2×4’s we’ll rip all of them to 3″.

Now for How I Do This: (Here’s a great post on how I give my boards this finished look)

I want all of my boards to be 3″ wide. (Originally a 2×4 is 3 1/2″ wide). I simply set my table saw for 3 1/4″ and rip one side of my 2×4. Then I set my table saw to 3″, flip my board over and rip that side of my board. Now I have a 3″ board with straight edges on both sides. This extra step gets rid of that manufactured curved edge and achieves a straight edge look.

SIDENOTE: I found it easiest to sand each board as I went with this project…rather than sanding it all at the end. 

Step Two: Build the armrests

Cut four 2×4’s to 22″

Cut four 2×4’s to 25″

Drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes into each end of the 22″ boards.

Attach together to make a square using 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws. See picture below for more clarity….

Two 2x4's jigged together to make an L shape

Three 2x4's jigged together to make a U shape

Follow these same steps for the second armrest.

Your armrests should now look like this and you should have two….

Four 2x4's jigged together for an outdoor chairs armrest

One last step to the armrests:

Measure up from the bottom of the square 10″ and mark both sides. Cut a 2×4 to fit between the two 22″ boards. Drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes on both ends of your board made to fit and attach between the two 22″ boards using 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws. The top of your board, “made to fit,” should line up with the mark you made on both sides….

Armrest complete for chair one of outdoor chairs

Repeat for other armrest and you should now have two armrests that look like this….

Two side armrests made of 2x4's for one of two outdoor chairs

Step Three: Build the seat

Cut two 2×4’s at 22″

Drill pocket holes on both ends and attach with 2 1/2′ p.h. screws to the front and back of the armrests. You will want them flush with the “made to fit” 2×4 at the 10″ line you marked in step two. (Ok, here’s my big fail for the week as a blogger 🙁 I forgot to take pictures of these steps individually. Sorry!) Hopefully, I’ve made it clear, what to do, in the pictures below….

Chair one of two outdoor chairs. Raw wood ready for paint

Seat Boards: Cut five 2×4’s to fit between the armrests. (Cut to fit, but they’ll be approximately 22″ each)

Drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes on each end. Attach using 2 1/2″ p.h. screws…

Seat boards for one of the outdoor chairs

Step Four: Build the back

Cut one 2×4 at 22″

Drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes on each end. Attach, using 2 1/2″ p.h. screws, in between top of armrests (making it flush with the top of the armrests)….Chair one of two outdoor chairs. Adding back board

Cut two more 2×4’s at 22″

Evenly space them between the top back board and the seat back board. Attach using 2 1/2″ p.h. screws.

wooden chair with markings of where to place boards

Step Five: Finishing touches

Always the best part! Your outdoor chairs are built and you are ready to add all the finishing touches.

Fill in pocket holes with wood filler (only necessary to fill in the ones that you’ll be able to see when the cushions are on)

Sand (If you didn’t sand as you built, sand the entire chair. If you did sand as you built, sand the wood filler spots only)…

Outdoor furniture ready for stain, in front of a garage

Stain or paint. I used Varathane Ebony stain on my outdoor chairs….

Backyard patio space with outdoor furniture and planters

Add 4 coats of exterior poly and your outdoor chairs are finished!!

Here’s the link to that beautiful soft, cozy throwBe sure to add designtobuild.nicole in the promo code for 20% off!!

Backyard patio space with coffee table and outdoor furniture

Aren’t they gorgeous!?? Now, step back and admire your work….because YOU just built that!! Enjoy!!

Be sure to check back next week for another amazing building tutorial! Or get it straight to your inbox, by subscribing below!

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Until next week,

Happy Building, Friend!!

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Hop over to Instagram to see all of the RL behind the scenes. What am I working on now?….come check it out!

More outdoor posts:

Ideas to Update the Exterior Design of Your Home

How to Not Use Pressure Treated Wood for your Outdoor Projects

How to Limewash Brick Exterior-A Complete Makeover


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