The Bonfire Chair build blog

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Blog entry by kaerlighedsbamsen posted 05-23-2015 09:01 PM 3626 reads 21 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is the blog describing how i made this chair.

For a long time I have had this corner of my garden that have a place for a bonfire. We use it a lot and the favorite is making pancakes using a pan on a long stick. My son loves it!

But the place itself could use some help. Especially the chairs are a bit annoying. I keep them because they were a gift from a friend and have a fun story to them (they are made by the inmates of a local prison that houses long term prisoners):

The chairs are not super comfortable: a bit too upright, a bit too square and just not “right” Looked around for existing outdoor furniture and did not find one pieze that i liked. Then looked at what was available for indoor use and a few things had the rigth feel or parts that looked right.

I wanted:
- A simple shape- yet elegant
- A transparent pieze
- Something that is all weather proof
- Chairs that are super comfy and is good for hours of star gazing and bonfire coziness

Here what i found. This Wegner chair has a great shape- and is super comfortable – but not transparent enough:

This one by our own member Boris Beulant is transparent and super elegant as well:

This one by Jørgen Høj is a favorite. Simple, transparent and comfy. But allmost too devoid of details:

So it is time to bring out the drawing gear. Had this idea that the sides should be straight and square and the vertical parts curved:

This whole thing started in mid winter with snow in the garden. The workshop definitely too cold for anything but shorter durations of work:

Made a quick minature prototype:

And, after waithing for (a bit) warmer weather, a rough, full scale one:

Looking good! But something about the top had not translated well to the larger scale. Tried this way:

Much better!
Decided to use Siberian larch that are heavy, strong and rot resistant. Started by making the 6 double rounded, vertical piezes by ripping in 3 piezes and gluing together in shape. Planing before gluing:

Making a glue jig. Here shaping the radius using the large router:

And Gluing together. Taking a full 24 hours each to cure, and me only being at the workshop in the weekends, this took nearly 2 weeks to complete. Lots of clamps! In the background it is barely visible that I finally managed to put doors in the workshop. Ceartainly helped on the draft:

The sides went much quicker:

Did the mitres with finger joints:

Like so:

Do not have a bandsaw so rigged this contraption up for the curved sides (notice the Q´n D air blower):

At this time spring had come and things went faster:

Sides glued together:

Dividing 20 holes on a double curved line in 3 different spacings gave me a lot of challenges until i had a “doh” moment: Hey – thats what dividers are for!

To cut the double angled mitres on the curved boards i devised this jig from some of the offcuts:

And a test fit before gloe up:

Lots of dowels, lots of glue. The luggage straps was perfect to keep things together:

And one glued up- one to go:

2 layers of outdoor paint:

This project has now been on its way since february. And then suddenly, this morning, things went fast. String for flags contrast nicely with the black- and are UV resistant:

Each chair use exactly 23 meter of string. Lots of pulling through holes and rather sore fingers at the end:

From below:

And suddenly they are done:

A happy woodworker. Now all i need to do is make a large batch of pancake batter…

Fun and challenging process. I find that the more i define and design my projects the more happy I am about them. Can easily see this design for indoor use built of a light, crisp wood like ash and with dark rope/string instead. Perhaps with this finish.

Have already sketched up a table to go with the chairs. And possibly a lamp if they go indoor. And about 200 other tings…

I would like to thank all at this site to inspire me to do more and be more ambitious about it!

Hope you liked to follow along. Please share questions, ideas, suggestions below!

A side note: Just gave the old chairs to my neighbour who is this friendly guy from Poland. We share almost no language (him: polish, russian – me: danish, english, german) but with sign language he signaled that he had been looking for chairs exactly like that because of a back problem. Perfect!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

13 comments so far

View shipwright's profile


8453 posts in 3410 days

#1 posted 05-23-2015 10:25 PM

These are beautiful.
It is easy to see the thought that has been put into them. Are they actually comfortable just sitting on the rope or are they better with a cushion? That is not a criticism just curious.

I think these will be favourited. They are elegant.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1315 posts in 2325 days

#2 posted 05-23-2015 10:42 PM

Thanks paul. Coming from a craftsman of your level i take that as a fine compliment.
The strings are quite comfortable to sit on. Did fear that they would not be and made a test pieze first.

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View RSetubal's profile


31 posts in 1911 days

#3 posted 05-24-2015 12:44 AM

Wow! Beautiful chair. It is the favorite. Congratulations.

View Isra's profile


135 posts in 2015 days

#4 posted 05-24-2015 07:05 AM

Thnks for sharing. It is beautiful.

-- Isra, Salcedillo (Cantabria),

View Woodworkerjay's profile


27 posts in 2420 days

#5 posted 05-24-2015 12:00 PM

Very nice chairs. I have been looking at the string design for awhile now and I am intrigued with that idea of a seat. Just wondering what kind of string did you finally end up using?

-- Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority it is time to pause and reflect. Mark Twain

View soccer2010's profile


133 posts in 3041 days

#6 posted 05-24-2015 12:54 PM

These are wonderful.

-- John

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3478 days

#7 posted 05-24-2015 01:15 PM

An interesting blog and nice work.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1315 posts in 2325 days

#8 posted 05-24-2015 02:40 PM

Glad you like it!
Jay: Used rope made for flags. Is supposed to be UV resistant and keep fairly white

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View michelletwo's profile


2783 posts in 3627 days

#9 posted 05-25-2015 09:05 AM

great design, neat materials, super build..thanks for sharing

View dalethewhale's profile


19 posts in 2435 days

#10 posted 05-28-2015 06:27 AM

Just Wonderful! A true designer and craftsman….! You make it look easy.

Inadequately yours!


-- Merrily, Merrily, is but a dream - Whale, Coffs Harbour, Australia

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1315 posts in 2325 days

#11 posted 05-28-2015 06:46 PM

Michelle: Thank you for the support!
Dale: Thats quite a compliment. Easy it was not but can the journey sure worth it!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View DonB's profile


571 posts in 3304 days

#12 posted 07-04-2015 11:35 AM

Wonderful project. You make me appreciate my use of half my garage as a workshop. I do not have to have snow on my table saw nor water from rain. I am lucky. None of these difficulties seem to deter you from making such a fine chair. I like the style, color and even the fire.

-- DonB

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1315 posts in 2325 days

#13 posted 07-04-2015 12:10 PM

Thanks Don! snow on the table saw sucks- but in the summer there is so much light and air. Though getting an all-year shop is on my top priority list!
Have to say that the most modest shop with the most impressive products belong to KnickKnack:

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

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