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Woodworking for the Weekend
Whether you choose to position your lounger alongside a pool or on a deck, 
it’s bound to provide the perfect place for relaxation on hot leisurely days. The best thing about this project has to be that, after working hard to make it, you can chill out, open a cold drink, and relax in the sun. Your only problem will be that these loungers look so inviting, you may need to make at least one more so you can keep one off-limits to everyone but yourself. Not only are they tailor-made for your comfort, but tucked at the back is a handy shelf for your book, sunscreen, and cool drink.

Choosing your materials
This job is straightforward to put together and is made from basic supplies that are easily found. The two side sections and all of the frame rails were cut from one 4×8/1.2-by-2.4-m sheet of ¾-in/2-cm exterior-grade plywood discarded on a construction site. To use this one sheet for all these components, you’ll need to make sure that you use the sheet wisely. When marking out the shape for the first side section, work toward one corner to make sure you leave enough material to cut out the second section and the supporting pieces; the same applies when you cut out the second side section. A jigsaw is used for this project because it is the easiest tool for cutting the curved shapes.

The top slats were retrieved from the waste pile of a local lumberyard. 
To them, they were useless leftovers from a production run; to me, they were the essential component to give my lounger a classic look and comfortable feel. Without the lucky break from the lumberyard, I probably would have been on the hunt for old bed-frame slats or something similar with a smooth, not rough, finish. The battens I used were cut from 1½-by-1½-in/4-by-4-cm board. You’ll also need a short length of 2×2/5-by-5-cm board to make the feet at the back.

The two sets of wheels are not essential, but they will make it easier to move your lounger around to catch the most of those rays. I used old skateboard wheels, because as well as being economical and easy to find, they are good and strong and have a low profile. Wheels from an old office chair will also work.

Posted by Ivy Press Published See Ivy Press's 15 projects » © 2023 Mark Griffiths / Ivy Press · Reproduced with permission.
  • Step 1

    Make a rough sketch of the lounger to use as a working drawing; it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. First, using the tape measure and pencil, record the distance from the sole of your foot to your waist and from your waist to the top of your head. Depending on how tall you are, you may wish to increase each measurement a little to allow for taller friends. Measure yourself at your widest point, whether that is your hips or shoulders, and allow a little extra for comfort. Next, throw a stack of pillows and cushions on the floor, and arrange both them and yourself into a reclined position that you would be comfortable to stay in for an hour or two. Use the measurements and the arrangement of the cushions to create a sketch of the length of the bed and the backrest.

  • How to make a seat. Sun Lounger - Step 2
    Step 2

    With sketch in hand and using the pencil, mark the shape of the side of your lounger onto the plywood. Start by measuring and marking the bottom horizontal edge of the lounger, then measure up from one end of the pencil line and mark the height of the backrest, subtracting the thickness of the slats. Now, about 16 in/40 cm from the foot end of the lounger, measure up from the bottom horizontal line to the height you want for the bed of the lounger—mine is 16 in/40 cm—remembering to subtract the thickness of the slats. Draw a soft curve for the front of your lounger to this line, then continue this line along the length of the bed and up the backrest, as on your sketch, before finishing with another soft curve to level off when you reach the end.

  • How to make a seat. Sun Lounger - Step 3
    Step 3

    With the important line of the lounger scribed, you can now draw out the rest of the side section. In order to lighten the design, I decided to create a 3-in-/7.5-cm-tall opening at the bottom of the side section; it finishes in a tight curve, leaving a front and rear “foot” of 
9¾ in/25 cm.

    When you are satisfied with the shape you have drawn, get rid of any unwanted pencil lines by sanding them away with a sheet of 120-grit sandpaper. This will help avoid awkward mistakes when cutting with the saw.

  • How to make a seat. Sun Lounger - Step 4
    Step 4

    With the plywood marked up, it’s time to cut out the first side section. Securely clamp the plywood in place. Using the jigsaw, follow your pencil marks to cut out the edges of the 
side section, along with the opening to create the feet.

    Whole sheets of plywood are unruly and heavy things to maneuver, so try to get a helper to support the sheet during this part of the operation.

    Before the cutting starts, check the jigsaw blade to be sure it won’t cut through the supporting bench as it journeys around the board.

    When using a jigsaw, always wear both safety goggles and a good-quality dust mask.

  • How to make a seat. Sun Lounger - Step 5
    Step 5

    Use the newly cut side section as a template to mark up the second side piece. Line it up with the remaining long edge on the plywood and use the pencil to transfer the shape. Clamp the plywood in place and then cut out the second side section with the jigsaw.

  • How to make a seat. Sun Lounger - Step 6
    Step 6

    Align the side pieces and hold them together, using either clamps or securing them with two nails. This will keep both side sections even while you clean the edges with a wood rasp.

  • How to make a seat. Sun Lounger - Step 7
    Step 7

    From the leftover plywood, measure and mark out five frame rails, making them 1½ in/4 cm shorter than the width you want your lounger to be to allow for the thickness of the side sections. I wanted a lounger 26 in/66 cm wide, so my rails were 6 by 24½ in/15 by 62 cm. On one rail, cut out an opening just as you did on the side sections, but this time only 1½ in/4 cm high. This will be the hand-hold for when the lounger needs to be moved into the sun’s rays.

  • How to make a seat. Sun Lounger - Step 8
    Step 8

    Using the handsaw, cut ten 6-in/15-cm battens from 1½-by-1½-in/4-by-4-cm boards and drill a pair of 3⁄16-in/4-mm pilot holes on each end, staggered on adjacent faces.

  • How to make a seat. Sun Lounger - Step 9
    Step 9

    Using the handsaw, cut two pieces of 2×2/5-by-5-cm board to fit inside the lounger feet at the back. Secure them with wood screws, then shape with a wood rasp to match the curve of the foot on the side section. These would give the feet on this end extra strength.

  • How to make a seat. Sun Lounger - Step 10
    Step 10

    Next, you will be securing the rails in place with wood screws driven through the battens. Place one of the side sections on the floor. Start with the back rail with the hand-hold, and position it flush to the top edge at the back of the lounger. Directly below it, attach another rail flush with the feet.

  • How to make a seat. Sun Lounger - Step 11
    Step 11

    Using wood screws, attach a third rail roughly at the center of the lounger bed, flush with the top edge so that it will sit just under the slats. Before you attach the fourth rail at the foot end of the lounger, raise it sufficiently from the bottom to accommodate whatever you have chosen as wheels.

  • How to make a seat. Sun Lounger - Step 12
    Step 12

    The last rail is for the shelf, but first attach a batten along its back edge to prevent items from sliding off the edge. Measure and mark the 1½-by-1½-in/4-by-4-cm board to the same length as the rail, cut with the handsaw, and nail and glue in place. Now, using wood screws, secure the shelf in place on top of and at right angles to the rail that will be at the bottom of the back. With all five rails secured to the first side section, place the second side section 
in position on top of the rails and fasten with wood screws.

    Tip: When securing 
the second side section 
to the rails, it’s handy to have a helper hold it in place as you work.

  • Step 13

    Now for the slats. To establish their length, select a 1¼-by-1½-in/3-by-4-cm board and put it across the two side sections. Make a mark to indicate the overall width of the lounger, then cut it to size with the handsaw. Use the first slat as a template to cut all the slats, so that they are all identical.

    The slats in my sun lounger are flush with the side sections, but you can make your slats overhang for a different look.

    Using the pencil, write TEMPLATE on the template. Believe me, I know how easy it is to mistakenly pick up a scrap piece of wood and proceed to cut all of your components to the wrong size.

  • Step 14

    Remove any ragged edges from the slats and lounger frame with some sheets of 120-grit sandpaper. However, if you have decided to paint or varnish the sun lounger, now is a good time to apply it. With the slats unfitted, it will be far easier to apply.

    You can finish 
the slats with a wood stain that contrasts to the frame. Alternatively, a striking color in an exterior-grade paint could make more of a bold statement.

  • How to make a seat. Sun Lounger - Step 15
    Step 15

    With your finish of choice applied and dried, start from the top of the head end of the lounger and secure the slats into place with nails.

  • How to make a seat. Sun Lounger - Step 16
    Step 16

    Attach two pairs of wheels to the rail at the front end of the lounger. Now, using the hand-hold rail, lift up the back end and roll it into the sun. Pour a cold drink, put on your shades, and test your work—I would recommend at least two hours for this.

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