African Bush Camp Chair (adapted from a Home Hardware project winter 2008)

This project was inspired by a missionary who returned from Africa. Robust and portable, in Africafrican-bush-camp-chair-1.jpga it is made from readily available mahogany, and is used predominantly by men who gather around campfires in the evening for eating, smoking and conversation. More intricate carvings are sometimes produced for tribal chiefs. You will be impressed by the comfort and simplicity of this design.

The chair we will build for our project will replicate this African design and can be used around campfires at home, on the dock, the patio, or alongside the soccer field. Not having access to large pieces of mahogany, we will use dimensioned lumber (SPF studs) laminated together using glue. This provides a piece of material with the strength required for suitable support. You could biscuit joint the lumber for a stronger seat. You may also want to router the edges of the seat and back with a 3/8" rounding bit, but this is optional.

What You'll Need
  • 2 x 6 SPF and 2 x 4 SPF
  • carpenters' glue
  • stain (optional) or paint (optional)
  • urethane or suitable exterior finish
  • sandpaper

  • Band saw
  • screwdriver
  • measuring tape
  • drill
  • drill bit, 1/4"
  • Dremel, carving guages or CNC router
  • sander
  • router
  • 3/8" or 1/2" rounding bit (optional)

Step By Step
  1. First step is to laminate two 2x4's and a central 2x6 together. Joint ONE edge of the 2x4 and BOTH edges of the 2x6. Laminate as instructed in class.
  2. Create a cool design or logo for the chair back. Keep it timeless, classy and simple - remember this chair will be around for a long time.
  3. Transfer the pattern of the back and seat to the laminated board. You can also transfer a design to your seat using the CNC. See the section on MasterCAM for this. We'll use MasterCAM and the CNC router. You will need the files below - add your design using MasterCAM. Save to USB so as to be able to bring into the shop Computer. CNC your "slab" - You can do both the Chair back and the seat or just the chair back.
  4. Using a bandsaw, cut out the two sections. Or drill a pilot hole for the jigsaw to cut out the slot in the seat back. The seat section should slide easily through the slot in the chair back, but do not over-cut the opening. Over-cutting the opening will make the joint "sloppy". Sand the two sections when finished.
  5. The chair can be finished with any colour or design you wish. In our project we'll use the CNC to put a design of your choice onto the chair back. You could also use a Dremel "Versa Tip" tool to create a design before any finish is applied. A design or stencil to "burn" may be directly drawn on the SPF with pencil, or transferred from an existing design as follows:Tape the drawing you have chosen to the surface, and gently trace its outline and detail with a ball point pen. The pressure will transfer the outline to the soft surface, at which point you can remove the taped drawing, and draw in the picture with pencil to make it more visible. To get a "feel" for the burning tool, test the various interchangeable tips on a scrap piece of pine, then carefully burn your pattern into the seat back.
  6. You may choose to Rout an edge around the periphery of your chair back or seat. Don't over-do-it!
  7. Now it's time to apply finish. See this page in the T-Squared wiki on finishes. Stain your design with one or more colours, or apply a clear finish over the entire chair. You may wish to stain your chair seat and border with a dark stain, and the engraved design with a contrasting lighter stain. You will find that the burned lines create a barrier to prevent the stain from bleeding into adjoining areas. After the stain dries completely, apply three coats of clear urethane finish. Urethane "Spar Varnish" works well for this as it's thick, glossy, durable and UV resistant.
  8. Optionally you can create a hanger for the seat for times when you are carrying the seat back. See examples in the shop or ask me.

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