Turn an Ordinary Beanbag Chair Into a Reading Bench
Beanbag chairs are great to sit on. They conform to your body and give just the right support where you need it. But sometimes they’re just a little too casual, a little too juvenile. We’ve had one for quite a while and I decided it was time to elevate it. Literally.
I built a simple bench to get the beanbag chair off the ground and surround it with a bit more adult respectability. It’s the perfect place to kick back, read a book, or take a quick nap without looking like you still have homework to do.
Step 1 - Plan for the Bag, and the Space
I knew I wanted a basic platform and back of the proper size to support the beanbag, but I also needed to take into account the space it would be filling. Normally, beanbag chairs are easy to toss around a room and conform to most any area you throw it in. This piece, though, was much more substantial furniture.
I settled on a 3-foot by 3-foot interior space. 4x4 posts would make up the legs, widening the stance from there. Then there was the exterior framework holding it together, so the entire footprint was about 3 feet, 9 inches square.
With the plan settled, I headed to the lumber yard and picked up all the necessary wood. Beside the 4x4’s, I needed 1x4 boards for the framework, arms and other support pieces. The seat and back was to be lined entirely with 1x3 slats. Remember, all these dimensions are nominal, so bring your tape measure to the lumber yard to get the specifics so you can calculate what you’ll need.
Step 2 - Frame It Up
With all the lumber back in the shop, it was time to start the build. I used a power miter saw to cut the 4x4 posts down to size.
The front legs were 2 feet tall and the back 3 feet. Then I cut the 1x4 boards that would frame out the entire bench. The corners were mitered for a clean, finished look.
Using deck screws, I attached the 1x4 boards to the 4x4 post legs, creating the initial square of the piece. Wanting to keep the piece close to the ground, I measured so the top of the frame piece was 8 inches from the ground. Throughout the process, I drilled pilot holes for the deck screws. You might not need to do this when making a deck, but my materials weren’t as rugged and I had to keep splitting to a minimum.
Cutting more 1x4s, I again used deck screws to attach joists to the inside of the frame which would support the slats of the seat.
Then I held a 1x4 board up to the front and back support posts and scribed the angle on the wood. At the miter saw, I shifted the angle to match the scribed line and cut. These arms were also attached with deck screws.
A straight piece of 1x4 went across the two back posts, then an upright joist was attached to it and the bottom of the piece to create a support for the back slats.
Step 3 - Minor Adjustments and the Slats
Stepping back to take a look, I decided that the front posts were too square and a bit uninviting.
Using a circular saw, I cut the interior corners off at 45 degrees.
Because the saw wasn’t large enough to take all the wood off, I finished the cut with a hand saw.
Now the bench looked like an inviting place to sit. Except that it didn’t have a seat. Or a back. So it was time to fire up the miter saw again and start cutting the 1x3 slats.
The first two slats were a different length than the others to accommodate for the front legs. In an effort to create an even cleaner look for the piece, I hand cut notches on the first slat so it wrapped around the front legs. The second slat fit exactly between the legs.
From there on, the slats were all the same length across the entire seat of the bench, so I set up a stop on one side of the miter saw at that same distance and started cutting slat after slat.
The back slats were slightly shorter because they only rested on the upright posts, so I adjusted the stop block before cutting those.
Everything was dry fitted, to make sure the math was correct and there wasn’t too big a gap between the seat and back. Once everything was in place, it was time to make it final.
Step 4 - Lots of Brads
I pulled up all the slats and ran wood glue over any framework they would come in contact with, for extra insurance.
Then we filled up the air compressor, loaded the nail guns and started shooting brads. Each slat got brads at every contact point, creating a good solid base for long term use.
The process went pretty quick, which was nice, because the next step was a little time consuming.
Step 5 - Sand and Finish
Running two orbital sanders, we knocked down the fuzz on the slats. The other wood had some hard edges that were eased by the sanders as well. The remaining air in the compressor was used to blow the saw dust away, leaving a clean surface ready for relaxation.
Placing the beanbag on the bench suddenly gave it an almost stately appearance. The wood might get painted at some point, but even bare like this, the piece has a nice casual feel, which will fit nicely in a den.
When it’s time to kick back with a paperback or an e-reader, we can do it off the floor and surrounded by my handiwork.