Easy Build Project – Kentucky Stick Chair

Kentucky Stick Chair Build

In our recent project, the Cordless Circular Saw Shootout, we had the opportunity to put 3 great circular saws to the test: the Milwaukee 2731-22 ($429), the Makita XSH01X ($419), and the Dewalt DCS575T2 ($355). In this test we wanted to rank the three in power, run-time and several other parameters which naturally involves lots of wood cutting. We built a simple jig to rip 2X4’s in half, so we could run all 3 of these saws in nice long rip cuts to gauge power and see if any might bog down (no bogging down with any of these saws). And of course, after our test we had plenty of freshly cut 2X2’s which can be useful for building book shelves or framing basements or any number of other projects but we already knew what to do with them, we were going to build a Kentucky Stick Chair.

Kentucky Stick Chairs are very easy to build with only a few bucks of material, you just need 2X2s (hockey sticks also works) and a couple of galvanized wire cables. The Kentucky Stick Chairs are very popular basic woodworking projects that many people have shared online. There are several different designs for them, we got our dimensions from The Woodworking Trip. Instead of just mindlessly cutting 2×4’s to test these circ saws why not build a simple project, or a couple of them.

There is a very small price difference (at least in our area) between 2X2s and 2X4s. That being said if you want to build yourself a stick chair or any project that uses 2X2s it probably makes more sense to buy some 2X4s and rip them. We used a circular saw for the sake of our testing (but also because almost everyone has access to one), a table saw would get the job done in no time. To be clear, the “2×2” final dimensions should be roughly 1-1/4” x 1-1/2”. For the wire you will need 4 pieces of 1/8” galvanized wire, and 8 wire clamps to put on the ends. The Widest section of the chair, the seat, is a little less than 3 feet from end to end, so make sure your cables are long enough to have slack at each end.

Ripping 2x4 Jig Circular Saw

Once you have all your 2X2s ripped, you can go ahead and cut them to the right lengths.   We used a Milwaukee M18 Miter Saw 2734-21HD for this step.  See the graph below for measurements.

ID Piece Length Count
A Seat 15″ 6
B Back Legs 35″ 2
C Back Long 31.5″ 4
D Back Short 29.75″ 2
E Front legs 42″ 2
F Joints 9-1/8″ 9

Kentucky Stick Chair Layout

Ideally you will also want to hit all your pieces with a router and sand them as well to make sure all your edges are nice and smooth for a much more comfortable seat. After that you’ll be able to drill the holes for the cables. This can be a bit tedious, as there are 41 holes needed. We used a hand drill but a drill press would be preferred to make sure all the holes aligned properly. The holes will be drilled though the wider edge (1-1/2”) of your 2X2s, centered across that edge. For a more finished look, each end pieces should have a larger bored hole about half way through to recess the wire hardware. The diagram below will detail where your holes are supposed to be.


After that it’s time to lay out all the pieces so you can thread them together with your cable. There will be two sections that need to be strung together separately, and then attached. One section will be the back of the chair with the front legs, and the other will be the seat section with the rear legs.

Cables 1, 2, and 3 can be fed through first, and then cable 4 will be used to join the two sections. We found it easy to lay the back section down on the table and then lay the seat section over top, and then simply let the F pieces fall into place. After cable 4 is fed through, you can then grab near cables 2 and 1 and lift and pull together to unfold the chair. We unfolded and stood up the chair before tightening and fastening the ends of the cable to make sure everything looked lined up right. It will probably be easier to fasten your cable clamps with the chair unfolded to avoid over tightening.

All the pieces should be pulled tight together, but not so tight that the chair cannot open or close.  After that the cable can be clipped. The ends came out to be pretty sharp so we recommend filing them down. We have also seen other people use threaded rod instead of cable, below are a couple variations (SouthernRevivals has some other good plans) but there are endless variations you can find with a quick search.

Stick Chair finishes

All in all, we were pretty impressed with how quick and easy our chair was to put together and deceivingly comfortable. It would make for a great lawn or porch chair or even a portable one to throw in the car for tailgates and such. Currently we are going to leave this chair unfinished so we can go back for another tool review (stay tuned!!) which is why the cables ends are not finished off yet. Once the chair is assembled, it is very easy to take apart to finish and then put back together however if you plan on doing this, just remember not to cut your cables so you can get it back together. There are lots of finish options, stained or painted finish, depending on where this might end up, indoors or outdoors.

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