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Project Information

We have been cleaning up and making our deck useable again, so I decided to design a lounge chair for the space. I like to use a variety of materials in my builds, so I based this one on pool noodles I got on Amazon and the fact that ¾ EMT conduit fits inside a noodle perfectly. As always, I assumed that since the concept is simple, the execution would be simple. Alas no, it took me almost 9 mos. from thinking about it to lounging in it. A lot of that time was lost since the size of project did not fit my workspace, so I needed to wait for spring weather to allow outdoor work.

This is not good furniture, so I decided to make it from cheap materials. The wood is box store douglas fir. I mostly bought 2×12. If you cut it down the middle, you get rid of most of the core wood and get decent rift and plain sawn grain. I milled it down to 1 3/8 as my basic thickness for all the components. The pool noodles are 2 ½" in diameter and 50" long. I cut them in half and designed around the 25" length. ¾ EMT in conjunction with the douglas fir creates the frames and supporting bench structure to keep things together.

There were some tricky bits. To create a wood to conduit joint, I cut ¾ oak dowels, epoxied them inside the conduit, and used axial screws to attach the sides. This is end grain so I used 3" SS screws to make sure I had enough holding power. I also epoxied the support conduits to the wooden frame on the left side to strengthen the joint and make it easier to screw on the right side. No epoxy is used on the right side so that the lounge chair can be taken apart and the noodles replaced with a different color or to replace worn ones if desired. I only epoxied/screwed the structural conduits that keep things together. There are also support conduits that just float in their sockets and support the rest of the noodles.

To provide the ratcheting mechanism for the back, there are 3 components: a ratcheting plate on the bench, an aluminum hinge plate, and a ½" aluminum rod in the back support assembly that rides the ratchet. I used ¼" thick aluminum for the ratchet and hinge plates. For the ratchet plate, I drilled a number of .625 holes and then cut it to final shape with a jig saw and a file. For the hinge plate I cut a rectangle with rounded ends and then drilled the pivot holes. The ½"rod is epoxied inside a conduit with plugs on the end keeping things centered and then screwed to the wooden bit that is attached to the hinge plate. This rod rides the ratchet to support the back at different positions. The other end of the hinge plate is axially screwed to a conduit that loosely fits in holes midway up the back frames. A similar mechanism is used for the knee joint. Here I used 3/8 rod and a closer spaced ratchet since finer adjustments are needed. For this joint I just created a hinge using a conduit common to both the seat and leg frames and a half lap joint for the overlapping wooden parts.

To keep things aligned during construction, the left and right side pieces for all the frames and bench were clamped together and alignment holes were drilled through both sides at the same time. These holes were used to position the 15/16 Forstner bit that was used to drill the conduit sockets/mortise.

There are 3 frames (back, seat and leg) and a ratchet support assembly. The frames are 1 3/8 thick, one noodle diameter high (2 ½ in.) and multiples of 2 ½ inches long. Conduit holes are drilled at 2 ½ centers. They all follow the same rounded rectangle pattern, but do have some differences due to hinges and ratcheting mechanisms. The structural conduits are axially screwed to the frame on both sides and additionally epoxied on the left. The support conduits are loose.

The bench that holds the frames is glued up from multiple pieces of fir to get a good height and also uses conduit to create a rigid support structure that holds the frames. The ratcheting plates are mounted to the bench and I added some wheels to help move it around. I played with a number of design ideas and went with this circle theme as my final choice. I made up some circle templates and used them to pattern rout out the final shapes.

I decided to finish with paint since the wood look was only so-so and I had patched a number of splinters, gouges, … with filler. Since this will reside outdoors forever, I first coated everything with 2 layers of epoxy (West system in this case). Pricey, but I did not want to see it rot in one or two seasons. I chose a satin nickle paint, which looked a little strange initially, but really synced in with the noodles in place.

Do differents: If I built another one, I would use better wood. The fir splinters or dents if you look at it funny. Getting a smooth surface even with epoxy is difficult. A more outdoorsy wood like red oak would be a better choice. A stronger wood would also allow thinner pieces. I would skinny the 1 3/8 down to 1". This thing is very heavy as built. For the conduit holes that are not epoxied in, I would chamfer the edges. Getting the conduits to align with the sides for final screw down was time consuming and frustrating. I would also revisit the positioning of the ratchets. The current design creates a very thin cover above the ratchet hole.

Time will tell how well it weathers the weather, but so far I am pretty pleased with the results.



· Registered
1,407 Posts
Unique design. Good job thinking way out of the box.

· Banned
18,919 Posts
a very cool looking lounge,love the use of the pool noodles,very innovative.