Reclining Chair

How to Build Your Own Reclining Chair

Without any doubt, building a masterpiece like the right massage recliner chair is not always possible on your own. Still, there is an alternative, having the list of items attached below you can easily construct a super comfy and spacious recliner chair that will serve you for many years.  


• We reclaimed the timber from a standard wooden pallet and deconstructed it so that we could re-cut the planks for our ‘new’ chair. Depending on the condition of the pallet, you may have to select planks from two pallets to make up one new chair. 

• The dimensions of the pallet are perfect for this design: the 1200mm lengths (width of a pallet) became two 600mm-long planks for the seat and backrest – and the framework was perfect for the frame of our chair. 

We used the more weathered of these two pallets, in keeping with the trend for a ‘worn in’ look. 

Quick project guide 

Found  in a timber yard 

Bought  for R40 

Reinvention  cost ±R30 (for the screws) 

Spent  R70 for a laidback chair you won’t find in any store! 

Nail holes and weathered textures add to the appeal of the end result. 

Shopping list 

• wooden pallet 

• 30mm chipboard screws 

• varnish or primer and paint (optional) 


• drill 

handsaw or jigsaw 

• claw hammer 

• pliers 

• car jack 

Get started 

1 As the nails are submerged and can’t be reached with the claws of the hammer, use a car jack to slowly pry apart the various parts of the pallet. 

2 Then use the claw hammer to remove all the nails. Use the pliers to straighten any bent screws so that they can be removed more easily with the claw hammer. 

3 Now select the best planks to make your chair, first choosing two for the framework. Place two lengths to one side, then cut two 400mm lengths and fix these at right angles to the ends using the chipboard screws. 

4 Place a plank or straight edge across the bottom of this frame. Position the plank with one edge resting on the corner of the leg and the other edge on the top of the frame, as shown. This will help to determine the angle along which to cut the front legs. Mark and cut this angle on both lengths. 

5 Cut six planks in half to give nine slats for the seat and backrest, two to finish the ends and one as support for the back legs. Now join the two frames created in steps 3 and 4 by fixing one 600mm plank across the fronts, as shown. Remember to drill pilot holes and countersink the screws. 

6 Then fix the five slats for the seat in place, using the thickness of a plank as in-between spacing. 

7 Cut another two lengths for the frame of the backrest. Glue and screw these in place on the inside of the base framework. Position these a plank thickness behind the last seat plank and at a roughly 10o angle off the perpendicular. You can adjust the angle of the backrest for your comfort. You can use an angle finder to accurately mark out the angle at which to cut the sides of the backrest. 

8 Now fix four slats to the backrest framework. Start by fixing the bottom plank one plank-width from the point where the backrest meets the base frame. Then fix the remaining three a plank thickness apart. Now mark and cut the ends off the backrest framework flush with the top slat. To finish it off, add another slat across the top, as shown. Add another slat for support across the base framework, just behind the backrest framework.  


The slats for the backrest will overlap the backrest framework on either side by the thickness of the base framework. The slat across the top adds strength by providing lateral support to the backrest structure

9 Place the ends of the base framework on a spacer or off cut piece to raise the back corners of the chair by between 50 and 60mm, or until the angle of the front legs of the chair is resting flush with the floor. Then rest a set square on the floor and mark out the position of the back legs (roughly 250mm to 300mm from the back of the backrest framework). Mark another line a plank-width inside this line. Cut the base frame at an angle along the outer line. 

10 Cut two short pieces at the required angles from the last slat, then glue and screw these in place. Sand any rough edges with a piece of sandpaper. 

Optional finishes 

To paint your chair  

First, apply a coat of primer. Once that is dry, use a brush to apply two coats of water-based enamel or acrylic PVA in the color of your choice. You could create further interest in applying color to selected parts of the chair only, such as the frame, and leaving the slats exposed. 

To varnish or oil, your chair  

Simply apply two coats of water-based varnish or wood oil to the entire chair. You could apply varnish or oil to the weathered wood to protect it but maintain the look or, alternatively, you can sand only the seat and backrest slats before varnishing or oiling the chair, leaving the frame weathered. 

The natural aging of materials can sometimes be used to great effect when they are repurposed and brought back into your home décor, inside or out.