Sunday, July 19, 2009

Emmabo Deck Chair

I've had two Ikea Emmabo Rocking Chairs on my deck for a couple of years, but earlier this spring the weathering finally took it's toll. A small rip in one chair forced me to only use the other, which eventually led to a huge rip in it as well. The fabric is durable, and I put them in the garage for the winters, but they're just not suitable for outdoor use. Perhaps they'd be fine if I had a covered deck, but they cannot withstand exposure to the sun and rain.

After failing to find replacement covers, I decided to forgo using fabric altogether and use wooden slats instead. For less than $40US for each chair, I recycled the metal frame and transformed these Emmabo chairs into a far more rugged version that will last for years.

This is where I ripped it a new one

The frame was still in great shape

The lumber is 1x2 pressure-treated for outdoor use. They are sold in 8'-0" lengths for $1.78 each at Home Depot. Cheap! I purchased 8 and had them cut at the store to 24" lengths. The palm sander was used to smooth the edges and tops.

I used 3/4" cable clamps, which are for electrical use but fit the rod of the Emmabo frame perfectly. The screws are brass, which won't rust and can be used with this type of wood.

Only one coat of black-brown ebony stain was needed

The stain dried outside for 24 hours

To attach the fasteners, I laid one slat across the frame, placed a cable clamp to the frame beneath each end of the slat, then marked and pre-drilled a small hole for the screw locations. With one slat pre-drilled, I used it as a template to mark and pre-drill the remaining slats. This made assembly much faster.

Assembling the fasteners

One slat required a special method for it's fastener. To accommodate a bulge in the frame, I had to overstretch the plastic cable clamp. Instead of one screw it required two.

Assembling the slats with the chair on it's side made it easier


Ready for the KS weather


  1. Ingenious!!! Your chairs turned out beautifully. woodworker husband is impressed!

  2. GREAT JOB and probably the BEST Ikean hack this year!!

  3. Saw this on Ikea Hacker. Ingenious! I want to buy one of those chairs just so I can hack it like that. Love it.

  4. Wow! You can bet I will be scouring craigslist for damaged Ikea chairs...

  5. I agree with Demica, this is my fave Ikea Hack! Great idea :)

  6. This is an absolutely brilliant hack. Nice work - I might have to try it!

  7. I can't believe how beautiful these are - thank you for the super clear instruction :D

  8. Really looks great and comfy too. Good hacking!

  9. looks great -- really upscaled it. do the slats slide from the plastic clamps on metal tube?

  10. It's awesome, better than the original.

  11. Thank you everyone for the nice comments!

    neuralstatic - the wooden slats do slide a bit on the metal frame, but not without a determined nudge. This aided the assembly, and allowed me to move all of the slats into place. The clamps themselves are made of plastic and are slightly flexible. This accommodates the natural tendency of wood to expand and contract with the changing seasons.

  12. This is absolutely amazing! I just had to showcase it in my blog on DIY IKEA :) (I hope you don't mind - my blog is )

    all the best,

  13. wow ! great project. This is what its all about. Having a vision when no one else can see it. You should post this on Instructables

  14. Brilliant idea. I'm thinking of using it to build a screen around our rainwater barrels. I guess the challenge will be finding rods of the right size for the frame. Thanks for the inspiration!

  15. Great reuse of materials! I also plan to feature on my site! I'll be sure to provide a link to your blog as well!! -Cynthia

  16. Loved this creation!
    Just looked on ikea website to see how much the chairs are new- and it looks liek they dont sell them anymore. Are you sure of the name?

  17. this is rad. i just picked up three of these chairs on CL and anticipated the fabric UV decay. my idea was going to be riveted webbing, but I think yours is infinitely cooler and simpler, too! thanks!

  18. Awesomeness!

    Look betters than the original fabric. Now, my hand drill won't rest when I found those frames on the curb.

    Any advice what saw should I use? basic ones?
    I don't own one, I have a manual push-pull grandpa saw, and with these numbers of wood, I can get tired just by the cutting part.

    Thanks. Angelina

  19. BRILLIANT!!!!!!!!

    I must say that it looks a lot better than the original design
    This is one of the best ikea hacks I have ever seen!!!

    We made a post about yout tutorial on the blog:

    Thank you so much for sharing such a great idea!