Make a sun lounger from wood

Build a sun lounger

Decent wooden sun loungers seem to cost a lot more than they should. Sure there are cheap flimsy sun loungers out there made of very thinly cut wood, but if you want to get a solid lounger you really have to pay through the nose.

And that is odd because a sun lounger is a very basic bit of garden furniture that you can build yourself in a matter of hours from about £30 of timber. 

Wood for a sun lounger

You can of course make yours from pallet wood for free, but as you can see from my pictures, to build my sun lounger I used freshly purchased wood from the local B&Q. I generally prefer using reclaimed pallets but just for a change I decided to opt for the more expensive (but less labour intensive) option.

Loungers sit outside. Hardwood is therefore preferable to softwood, The reason that hardwoods such as teak, courbaril, roble, iroko and eucalyptus are great for garden furniture is that they contain natural oils that act as a preservative.

However softwoods can make good garden furniture too. It is just that a little more protection and care will be needed to keep softwood furniture in tip top shape. Hardwood is definitely not a necessity which is good news for me as my local B&Q were pretty much all out.

Sun lounger design

Fundamentally a sun lounger is pretty much just an oblong box with some slats across the top. This is important to remember. All you are doing is building a box. When you keep that in mind the whole thing becomes infinitely achievable. Th

Fixed angle or adjustable?

I decided to opt for simplicity and having seen a few rather lovely fixed angle loungers I opted for that choice. I particularly like the designs I saw that comprise two large sideboards and a series of horizontal slats. 

However, there is only so much that a picture can tell you. In order to be sure that I had chosen a design that I would be totally happy with I quickly built a little model from foam board. It was only 20cm long, but it allowed me to see the design from all angles. Yes, I was happy that this was the one.

Foam board model sun lounger
Model Sun Lounger

Alongside the sides and top, hidden away beneath are just three further horizontal stretchers to hold the whole thing solidly together. I also decided to add some small corner bracings for extra rigidity. Nobody wants to lie down on a rickety lounger.

I decided that a real width of 70 cm was about right for my personal lounger and so that determined the length of each cross slat. My model had only 14 cross slats but I decided I would need around 20 of them For the real thing. The slat width  I arbitrarily chose as around 7cm and the thickness as 3cm

The sides of the home made sun lounger would need to be solid so I settled on a minimum 3cm thickness. My first setback was when I went to the diy store, I found out they were all out of large solid sheets of 2000x400x30mm boards. or anything even remotely similar.

I would have to wait for new stock, or join together some boards to make the sides myself.

Drawing the shape of the side was a fun exercise. Did I want it high backed or low backed? Sinuous or relatively flat?  Curved or angled? I ended up drawing a bunch of sketches till I found something appealing. It was during this process that I realised how important the angle of the backrest would be to the whole project. I sat on an old aluminium framed adjustable lounger and set it to where I felt most comfortable. This is the angle I chose to replicate with my homemade sun lounger.

Tools needed to make a sun lounger

This design is so simple that you can build it with the minimum of tools.

  • A Saw
  • Screwdriver
  • Drill (for pilot screw holes) and countersink bit.
  • Dowels (lots and lots of dowels)
  • Wood glue
  • Sandpaper
  • Exterior wood paint.
  • Sun lounger parts

So off to B&Q it went and bought a stack of wood. 

First job was to cut the 14 horizontal slats (70cm x 5cm x 2cm) and three horizontal braces (60cm x 5cm x 2cm). I kept a few offcuts of waste wood for corner braces.

Once these slats were cut I double checked the edges to ensure they were neat and exactly the right length. Then I drilled holes for the rawlplugs to go into. Each slat has four plugs, two on each side, so they become structural components of the lounger. This means we don’t need extra framing pieces so that saves a bit on cost and weight and makes the whole lounger look more streamlined.

Cutting the side pieces.

A circular saw is ideal, a handsaw will do just fine. Just remember to keep everything even and level while you cut the angles.

Sun Lounger Assembly

Start by joining the sides with a couple of slats at each end. Predrill your holes add glue and insert plugs. Now add the cross slats underneath and you will have a rickety but stable box.

Once the sides and cross braces are plugged and glued together All that is left is to add the slats for the top

A trick I learned from building a wooden bed was to join the slats together by stapling them to a couple of straps before putting them on to the lounger. It makes it so much easier to get the spacing right if it is measured on the flat, rather than on the curved lounger top.

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About the author

Loves to learn new things and make stuff...properly. Born and living in the Thames Valley west of London, England. I have an office job during the day, but evenings and weekends are all about making.