Heather McKinney
Heather McKinney
  • Hometalker
  • Paducah, KY

Tree Bench Made From Kitchen Chairs

3 Materials
$100
2 Days
Medium

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.
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.
Yeah. Pretty sure it was the heat.
Yeah. Pretty sure it was the heat.
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.
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To see more: https://tooinspiredtosleep.wordpress.com/2018/06/16/tree-bench-made-from-kitchen-chairs/

Have a question about this project?

3 of 23 questions
  • Johnavallance82
    on Jun 11, 2018

    Looks Great, but might it have been a good idea to join the chairs at the base rail for strength and authentic look? Well done you !

    • OceeB
      on Jul 19, 2018

      Good idea John..

      Toolinspiredtosleep! Hello from a native Kentuckian...I love this and have seen and wanted to try this before. I was wondering what wider boards would look like too where it would overhang in front instead of ending at face of original chair

  • Sandy
    on Jun 11, 2018


    IS THIS WOOD GOING TO ROT?

    • Susie
      on Feb 2, 2019

      I would definitely put another two coats of paint on this......using marine paint this time!! Also, I would put a brick under each leg so they aren't touching the mulch or ground! This would help prevent leg rot and stabilize it, too. Looks good!


  • Renata
    on Jun 12, 2018

    At the points in between each chair , would it be better to put an extra leg so ppl could sit there also?

    • Thea
      on Aug 19, 2018

      Or perhaps stone statues that are exactly the right height to give extra support.

Join the conversation

3 of 492 comments
  • Lori Johnson
    on Nov 5, 2018

    I live in a trailer house and we have a giant Elm tree at the corner of our deck and steps. This would work using only four chairs to go halfway around. It would connect to our deck on one side and our steps on the other. I've always loved the idea of a tree bench. This would be a much cheaper, and fun way, to make one. I'd probably paint it with weather proof paint and finish. Our trailer is white, so this one would fit right in. :) Thanks for the great idea. Now I'll be up dreaming about ways to do one myself. :D

  • Dsouther
    on Apr 30, 2019

    This is very pretty and a great way to recycle old chairs Unfortunately, It would not last very long at my NC house. The humidity would start to deteriorate it immediately.

    • Heather McKinney
      on Apr 30, 2019

      They recommended I use marine paint instead of the regular oil-base paint I used. Yes, KY heat and humidity got the better of it, and after three years, it's in our burn pile.

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