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Tree Bench Made From Kitchen Chairs

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I have been admiring, from afar, those tree benches for a long, long time. (You know, the bench that goes around an entire tree? Yeah…that’s the one!) I’ve always wanted one but knew it was a little out of our price range. Those suckers can cost anywhere from $250-$2,990.
Time: 2 Days Cost: $100 Difficulty: Medium
  • tree bench made from kitchen chairs, diy, outdoor furniture, repurposing upcycling, woodworking projects
One night, as I was trying to fall back to sleep, my mind started racing. I started thinking about those benches and wondered how I could make one-BUT, it needed to be fairly cheap and easy. (Where have I heard that before?) You see, I’m still pretty new to woodworking and power tools. Then it hit me (“it” being inspiration), why couldn’t I just use kitchen chairs for this? After I had this thought, I was up for the rest of the night because I was so excited. I guess you could say I was ‘too inspired to sleep’. For the next few months, I was on the hunt for reasonably priced kitchen chairs (at least six of them). My goal was $50 and under because I figured they didn’t have to be in the greatest of shape since they were going to be exposed to the elements and I didn’t know if this was even going to work.
I finally found the chairs (plus a table) on an online auction site. I gave $75 for the set. A little more than I wanted to pay, but I WAS PUMPED! (Heck, I got a free table out of the deal.)
  • tree bench made from kitchen chairs, diy, outdoor furniture, repurposing upcycling, woodworking projects
As I was removing the cushions, I found the tag that dated these back to 1991.
  • tree bench made from kitchen chairs, diy, outdoor furniture, repurposing upcycling, woodworking projects
I’m pretty sure they hadn’t been cleaned since then either.
  • tree bench made from kitchen chairs, diy, outdoor furniture, repurposing upcycling, woodworking projects
After removing the cushions and hardware, the first order of business was to clean the chairs with TSP. In case you didn’t know, TSP is an all purpose heavy duty cleaner you use before painting. It gets rid of all the oils so that the paint will adhere better. After they were cleaned, I painted the chairs. When they dried, I pulled my braniac husband in to help. I wasn’t for sure what angles to cut the wood so he gave me a crash course in geometry. (This project made me realize that I should have listened more in Mr. Heflin’s class.) He said that since we were making something circular, the angles would have to equal 360 degrees. (Okay, I already knew that much.) Then he asked how many chairs I had. “I have six.” So he asked how many times six would go into 360. “I know! I know! Pick me! The answer is 60. The wood needs to be cut in sixty degree angles. Do I get a gold star?” (Side note: I was nominated for Biggest Brown Noser, Class of ’93.)
  • tree bench made from kitchen chairs, diy, outdoor furniture, repurposing upcycling, woodworking projects
Now this is where the magic begins… he measures, I cut. And measures and cuts and measures and cuts and…I’m sure you get the idea. After we would get a row done, then he would nail it down.
  • tree bench made from kitchen chairs, diy, outdoor furniture, repurposing upcycling, woodworking projects
After we finished with that part, we took a step back to admire our handiwork. So far, we were pleased.
  • tree bench made from kitchen chairs, diy, outdoor furniture, repurposing upcycling, woodworking projects
Next, we made braces that would connect the chairs to each other. We didn’t put them on just yet. First I needed to paint everything. Keep in mind that we did all of this in one weekend. You know, the hottest weekend of the year. Where the air temperature was 95 degrees and the Kentucky humidity made it feel like 110. No joke. With that being said, I might have been slightly delirious from heat exhaustion, but after I painted them, I thought they looked like little angels sitting out in our driveway.
I already had a tree outback that I had deemed “the bench tree.” When I got the chairs over there to it, I found I hadn’t taken the roots into consideration with my measurements. So, I looked. And looked. And looked some more. I had to find an established tree that didn’t have roots coming out of the ground, in close proximity to the house and was thin enough to be encompassed by the bench. For the record, we live on 80 acres; three of which are densely populated with trees. That’s where our house sits. Right smack dab in the middle of about 300 trees.
I found a tree.
It’s basically the first one you come to when you pull up to our house. I was really wanting it to be located more in the back in case it turned out to be an eye-sore. Oh, well.
So, I raked around the tree and tried to level up the ground. I didn’t do a very good job. (Did I mention it was 95 degrees outside?) I placed the chairs around the tree. Since the ground was uneven, I had to cram mulch under some of the chair legs so that it would be level enough to attach to the other chairs. Then, we got the braces and screwed all of the chairs together until it was one unit. Lastly, we put mulch underneath all of it.
  • tree bench made from kitchen chairs, diy, outdoor furniture, repurposing upcycling, woodworking projects
  • tree bench made from kitchen chairs, diy, outdoor furniture, repurposing upcycling, woodworking projects
  • tree bench made from kitchen chairs, diy, outdoor furniture, repurposing upcycling, woodworking projects
Overall, I’m very pleased with the outcome. (It ended up costing around $100.) Still, there are a few more things I'd like to try with it.
I've received a lot of questions about how we braced the chairs together. Information regarding this, and much more, can be found on my blog.

Materials I used for this project:

  • 6- Old kitchen chairs   (Online auction)
  • 12- 1x8s   (Lowe's)
  • Oil-based paint   (Lowe's)

To see more: http://www.tooinspiredtosleep.com/2016/07/tree-bench-made-kitchen-chairs/

  • Lilly
    Lilly Port Hueneme, CA

    This is wonderful. I wish there were picture of the braces and close-ups of the locations where they were placed. I always loved the bench you first referenced. I have two avocado trees in my back yard and I'd love to put benches around them.

    • Heather is TooInspiredToSleep
      Heather is... Paducah, KY

      If you go to my blog, you'll see what the braces look like and where we placed them. Hometalk only allowed a certain number of photos and I had exceeded my limit.

  • Karen Marie
    Karen Marie Fort Worth, TX

    Love yours better than the "traditional" type of tree benches -- yours have BACKS to lean back on!

    • Heather is TooInspiredToSleep
      Heather is... Paducah, KY

      THANK YOU...so many people have told me that I need to cut off the backs.

  • Kelly Gilbert Rosenbalm

    Love this project! Fellow Kentuckian, and I agree with you about the dreadful stifling heat.

    • Heather is TooInspiredToSleep
      Heather is... Paducah, KY

      IKR?!?! Forcast for tomorrow is mostly sunny, hot and humid, 94 degrees. Did I mention the humidity??? Geez.

  • Joyce Carr West

    I absolutely love what you did with the chairs, and I WANT'A make me one. To THINK OF THIS you have to be a GENIUS, Great job Honey

    • Heather is TooInspiredToSleep
      Heather is... Paducah, KY

      What a super-nice thing to say! Can I get you to tell my family? They think I'm crazy.

  • Sue
    Sue Exeter, NH

    Nice job, was thinking the seat could have been rigged up like flower boxes, the tree surrounded by flowers. 🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺

Inspired? Will you try this project? Let the author know!