Wood and Leather Sling Chair

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 -

I swore I wouldn't, but I've totally jumped on the mid-century/ danish bandwagon. Honestly, I've always been attracted to more masculine looks and I've come to appreciate the engineering in the minimalist design. I've actually had this chair built for a couple weeks. "Then why haven't we seen it?" you may be asking. 

I have been trying to learn Google Sketch-Up. I attended a class at SNAP, taught by Rayan from The Design Confidential, and left feeling confident I could start drawing my own furniture plans. Then I got home. Let's just say there is a steep learning curve. I'm still working on it though. I promise, I WILL have furniture plans for you all eventually. Even if it kills me. So, I was waiting to share this sling chair till I had plans ready, but since that might be a while, I decided to go ahead and share the building process. 

Cut List:

2 - 1 x 2 @ 33" (will cut again)

2 - 1 x 2 @ 24"

4 - 1 x 2 @ 20"

2 - 1 x 2 @ 22" (one end cut square, one end cut at 70-degrees)

2 - 1 x 2 @ 30 3/8" (one end cut square, one end cut at 70-degrees)

17 - 1.5" x 1/4" wood slats @ 19" (found in the "Hobby Boards" section of hardware store)

Despite how it looks, this chair was actually pretty cheap and easy to build. The one caveat is that it MUST be built from hardwood. Sorry, no digging in the cull bin at Home Depot for this project. The minimalist design of this chair requires the strength of solid hardwood, pine wont cut it. I used poplar because I fell in love with the cool natural color and graining. Oak would be another good and affordable option.

First step is to cut your angled legs.  My chair was nice and lounge-y. If you don't like the relaxed, lounger style, you may want a slightly more shallow angle to your back. The total length of the back is 33". I wanted the leg portion to be 4" tall, so I first cut 2, 33" lengths. I then marked 4" from one end. Next, I set the table on my miter saw to a 10-degree angle and cut at the mark. 

I then drilled 2 pocket holes on the longer side of the 4" pieces. At this point, I flipped the cut edges and lined up the short piece with the long piece. I spread a thin layer of wood glue on each end and joined the two pieces with pocket hole screws. Once they were dry, I had my 2 back legs, each with a 20-degree bend. 

Time to assemble. I first attached each piece with two, 2" finish nails and glue. Then, I pre-drilled and countersunk a 3" wood screw at each joint. 

I started by building the back frame, then front frame, and finally attaching the two. To account for the angled back, the armrest and side supports were cut 90-degrees on one end and 70-degrees on the other. 

At this point, I filled all my screw holes and seams with wood filler. After drying overnight, I gave the whole piece a good sand down. 

The finish was kinda fun to create. I started by spraying the whole frame with a black primer. Then, a coat of Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint. Next, I sprayed a coat of metallic silver and let it dry about 90%. Then, I grabbed some 100 grit sandpaper and started to distress, making sure not to sand down to the bare wood. Since the silver wasn't entirely dry, it was pulled off randomly. I think the final look ended up looking a lot like bare steel. 

For added support, I added a 3" L-bracket to the inside corner of each back leg.

Now it was time for the sling. The inner width of the seat is 20". I wanted to make sure the sling could move freely between the arms, so I cut my slats at 19".

 Once they were all cut, I need to pre-drill where they would attach to the leather strap. Being a perfectionist, I wanted to make sure I drilled holes in the exact same location on each slat. For this, I highly recommend building a simple jig. For mine, I just screwed 2 pieces of leftover 1 x 2 to a scrap board. This provided a nice, square pocket to line each slat up in. Since I have a drill press, all that I had to do was align my jig under the drill bit and clamp it down. This way I could drill one hole, flip the slat over and drill the second hole. If you don't have a drill press, don't worry, a hand held drill would work fine. 

For the leather straps, I found the cheapest and strongest solution was to use leather belts. I was able to find these 52" leather belts for under $5.

I used 1/8" x 5/8" pop rivets to attach each slat to the leather, using 2 scrap blocks of wood to ensure each slat was spaced equally. I have a tutorial coming soon how to use a Pop Rivet Gunon leather.

If you use 1.5" wide slats, spaced 1" apart, you will need 17 slats.

The last steps were to pre-drill through the leather and wood frame, and attach the leather straps with carriage bolts and nuts (3/8 x 1.25" for the top and 3/8 x 2" for the bottom).

Here's the final result!

I'm digging the contrast between the bare wood slats and the shiny, metallic paint. I think the brown leather adds a nice, organic yet masculine look. 

Poplar gets a bad rap for being an "ugly wood". Are you kidding?! Look at the beautiful variation of cool tones. This is my new favorite wood!

Because of the metallic finish, I had a hard time getting good photos. Some of the shots ended up looking flat, but totally not the case in person. 

I'm glad I was finally brave enough to tackle building a chair and I'm totally in love now with pop rivets! (I even professed my love for them on Instagram). Don't give up on me. Hopefully, I'll have plans for you soon!

This baby is available under the shop tab. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below!

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*This post contains affiliate links

If you dig the Mid-Century/Industrial look, check out my:

+ Mid-Century Industrial Storage
World Market "Aiden" Coffee Table knock off
Zinc Top Coffee Table

Linking at:

The DIY'ers Fluster Buster Crafty Allie Glitter, Glue & Paint Liz Marie Blog The Pin JunkieThe Shabby Nest DIY Vintage Chic


  1. Wow, impressed the heck out of me! I'm like you, I hadn't embraced the mid-century modern look (been there/done that/got the t-shirt) but once I refinished one piece it left me wanting to scout for more. You did an amazing job with this Leather Sling Chair!
    Marie@The Interior Frugalista

  2. I honestly thought when I saw the pictures that this was metal! Great work and loving the design.

  3. Ok, first of all, I died (ok not literally) when I saw this....it is stinkin' amazing!! Second, I too thought it was metal and the finish is perfect. And third, I agree poplar is pretty, I have always liked it. Your design is beautiful Elisha I am way impressed and I love the mid-century look!! You Rock it hard core! Pinned!

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  5. Like everyone else, I was SURE this was a metal frame, even thought to myself.. dang, this is one I won't be able to build! Mind officially BLOWN!! Great job. Now for the ultimate question...is it comfortable?

    1. Thanks Tracy! Yes, it actually is very comfortable! My husband was really surprised when he sat in it. The nice thing about the sling is that it conforms to your body. The sloped back really helps too. The only person who might not love it would be someone really short. The support bar in the front might feel too high for someone under 5'4", putting too much pressure on the back of their legs. This could easily be fixed by moving the bar down.

    2. How many inches from the bottom of the chair did you place the top front support that the sling attaches to? I didn't see that measurement listed...

  6. man, that is so good. and looks super comfortable.

  7. I think you chair looks great, even in the pictures. I bet it is incredibly comfy too! Great work!!! :)
    x Crystelle
    Crystelle Boutique

  8. OK, i'm so making this!! I seriously thought you got into welding until I saw it was a paint "trick"!! LOL.
    Love this chair. really.
    I'm going to email you with a question/opinion on how to make something 'cuz I'm sure you'll know how!

  9. Amazing chair. I am impressed with your design. I have never seen such type of furniture. This is really amazing and unique furniture. I want such type of furniture but this is not easily available in market. I love to buy this chair. Can you tell where i can purchase such type of chairs. These type of furniture changes the living styles of peoples.


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