For all fans of the rustic look: a chair made from a single piece of solid wood adds flair to your garden or living room. The following guide shows you how to easily make this eye-catching item from one piece of wood.
Selecting your wood
Weatherproof hardwoods, such as oak or robinia, are ideal for making this rustic chair. In principle you could also use softwoods, such as pine – but be aware that coniferous woods can exude resin.
It’s a good idea to use a piece from the lower trunk with the root collar intact, so the chair base gets slightly broader towards the bottom, and is therefore more stable.
Safety first: you must always take appropriate precautions when using a chainsaw. Wear safety glasses or face protection, and use some form of noise protection, such as ear defenders. Hands, legs, and feet can be protected by work gloves, trousers with cut protection, and boots with cut protection inserts.
If you’re using a STIHL cordless chainsaw you won’t need any noise prevention.
You can find out more about protective equipment when using a chainsaw here.
Please note, some countries may have specific requirements for personal protective equipment, and be aware that protective clothing is no substitute for working safely. Therefore, please always read the operating instructions for the tool you’re using.
Step 1: Materials required for the DIY wooden chair
- Log (dry; about 35 cm diameter, 70 to 100 cm high; with or without bark, depending on preference)
- STIHL chainsaw
- Spirit level
- Folding ruler/measuring tape
- Angle grinder
- Marking chalk/pencil
- STIHL debarking iron, if required
Step 2: Marking cuts for the backrest and seat
It’s up to you whether you use a log with or without bark to make your chair.
If you prefer the look with bark, you should choose a freshly felled tree so that the bark is still firmly attached. Please note, it’s not always easy to mark cuts on wood with bark. If you’d prefer to use the trunk without bark, you’ll need to remove this before you start work, for example by using a STIHL debarking iron.
Before you start sawing, you’ll need to measure the trunk and mark where cuts are to be made. Draw a straight line on the upper side of the trunk to show where the back of the chair will be.
The backrest should slant down at a slight angle to the seating surface, so don’t place the line too near the middle of the trunk, otherwise you may end up with a seat that’s too small.
Then mark the level of the seat on the side of the trunk, at a height of about 45 cm.
Step 3: Begin sawing the backrest and seat
You can now start sawing the backrest and seat. Don’t cut all the way through initially: stop when you’ve gone about two thirds of the way, so you can rotate the trunk as you proceed, and work on the base of the chair without it toppling over.
Tip: According to the manufacturer’s instructions, the guide bar’s length should be about 10 cm longer than the diameter of the trunk. This means you’ll only need to saw from one side, not both.
Step 4: Mark the cut-out section in the base
Now mark the cut-out section below the seat. First mark the corner points of the cut, then join them together. Use a spirit level to make sure the cut lines are drawn straight.
The angle of each downward cut is up to you, but make sure the cut-out is positioned so the chair remains stable.
Step 5: Remove the cut-out section
Start with the cut that runs parallel to the seat. Then saw the lower end of the cut-out section, which slants slightly upwards. The final cut you make should be the vertical one, so that the wooden block comes away easily, and should practically fall out of the base of its own accord.
Step 6: Mark the front of the base
We recommend also removing a piece from the front of the base to improve the chair’s appearance. Use a spirit level to help you mark a line that slopes at a slight diagonal towards the centre of the seat.
Step 7: Remove the front of the base
Make sure the guide bar does not touch the floor while cutting the front of the base. To prevent this, you could use a wooden pallet as a support, or attach the wood to a sawhorse before cutting.
Step 8: Add mitre cuts to the base
Before continuing, turn the wooden chair upside down and stand it on its upper edge so you can make two mitre cuts on the cut-out section – one on each side. This smoothes the edges and improves the appearance of the chair.
Tip: Use the incoming saw chain – i.e. the lower end of the guide bar – to make the mitre cuts. If you use the outgoing chain, there’s a risk the edges might splinter.
Step 9: Shape the backrest
Turn the wood the right way up, so the base is at the bottom. Now you can use the saw to shape the backrest. As a guide, use the unfinished cut at the front of the backrest, which slopes up from the seat.
Step 10: Complete the cuts on the backrest and seat
Now complete the cuts on the backrest and seat, which you began by sawing two-thirds of the way through. You’ll then be able to easily remove the remaining piece of wood from the chair.
Make further mitre cuts around the seat to soften the edges.
Step 11: Smooth edges and surfaces
As a final step, you can use a grinder to smooth the chair to create a smooth and even surface, according to your preference.
Your handmade wooden chair is finished!
You can now try out your new wooden chair. We recommend treating it with hard wax oil or similar to protect the wood from the weather.