Commercial patio furniture can be found in any department store or lumber yard. For the most part, such furniture begins to look the same and just about everyone has the same patio furniture sets. You may be able to drive through your community, pointing out and naming where your neighbors' patio furniture came from, "That one came from Home Depot and that one came from Wal-Mart." It's time to do something radical so no one can name the source of your patio wares; choose to build your own.
Things You'll Need
- Concrete foundation blocks
- Saw horses
- Circular saw
- Jig saw
- Table saw
- Router and router bit set
- Drill with bit set
- Drill press with bit set
- Chisel set
- Assortment of screws, bolts and nuts
- Wood glue
- Complete screwdriver set
- Complete socket set
- Claw hammer and ball-peen hammer
- Yard stick
- Measuring tape
- Chalk line
- Builder's square
- Electric sander
- Furniture webbing
- Wood stain and finish
Preparing to Build
Draft or purchase plans for each piece of furniture you desire to build. A good set of plans will provide a list of all parts and lumber necessary for the project and will help you make another of the same item at a later date. In a chair set, for example, consistency is important for your patio set to look right and this will mark you in the minds of others as an accomplished craftsman.
Determine how much of each type of lumber you will need to complete the project. Lumber lengths and sizes are standardized. Boards are all sold in 8-foot sections: 1x1, 2x4, 4x4; panels of plywood, oak, pine, and others are sold in 4-foot wide by 8-foot long panels. Using your plans, determine how many of each lumber variety are needed and purchase them so you have them on hand when needed.
Rent or purchase the tools you will need for your project. Make a list of tools required in constructing each furniture item and take an inventory of tools you already have in your possession. Spend some time locating and purchasing, or renting, the tools you don't already have in your inventory. A bare minimum of general-use tools necessary for building patio furniture has been supplied for you in these instructions, but the list may not include all necessary items needed for your particular project.
Check to verify that your extension cords are rated for the amperage and wattage needed by your power tools. If you will be working outdoors, be sure to use only outdoor-rated extension cords.
Set up and space your saw horses, table saw, drill press, and electric sander. Place your equipment within easy reach, ensuring that none of the power cables can be cut or damaged by sharp edges or blades.
Cut all furniture frame members to the lengths called for in your plans or as you noted in your self-produced draft. Proceed to cut out the pieces needed for flat surfaces last.
Sand all pieces of lumber smooth and then organize the parts so they are together: chair legs in one pile, seat panels in another pile, back-rests for chairs in another pile and so on.
Using your router and table saw, cut any desired designs on each piece and lightly sand the designs afterwords with fine grit sandpaper.
Drill all bolt holes in all pieces of lumber which will serve as joints. If you are using hidden-joint techniques, cut the male ends of all joints and drill the female receptacle holes, making all measurements properly so they match up according to the plans.
Assemble the Parts
Connect all frame members first. Use a square and a level, making sure all frame members are plumbed (level and even). If you are using hidden-joint techniques, apply a proper amount of wood glue to the joint receptacle holes and on the surfaces of all male joint nipples per the instructions on your brand of wood glue. When gluing, compress all joints and allow to dry according to the recommended drying times on the bottle.
Sand down any additional rough edges or burs on areas as necessary.
Apply your choice of wood stain. Allow the wood stain to dry per the recommendations on the product packaging. Once dry, apply two or three coats of clear weatherproofing clear-coat to all surfaces of your furniture. If your furniture will be exposed to excessive sunlight, use a good clear-coat that offers a high UV protective rating.
Invite your friends and neighbors over for a barbecue to enjoy a dining experience using your new patio furniture.
Tips & Warnings
- Unless you are good at structural engineering, able to calculate weight loads and dimensions properly, you will need to purchase plans. Plans can be expensive, so be sure the provider offers ample photographs and information on the finished product before purchasing so you are positive the pieces offer the appearance you are looking for.
- Always wear eye protection, long-sleeved shirt, gloves, and a dust mask when working with power tools. Avoid inhaling wood dust or chemical vapors. All woodworking should be performed in a well-ventilated location, preferably outdoors.
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