{Tutorial} Child’s Upholstered Chair Frame

As promised, today I have a tutorial for you on how to make the frame for the child-sized upholstered chair I shared with you yesterday, and gave to my niece this past weekend.

Today’s tutorial is solely for the frame and I’m planning to show you how to upholster and assemble it tomorrow.  These instructions are how I made this chair.  Like I mentioned yesterday, I’ll likely make a few tweaks in the next version of this chair, but this tutorial will give you a sturdy piece that looks just like the photo above!

I used a Kreg jig to pre-drill most of the holes used for attaching the pieces together here, but if you don’t have one, you can piece it together using regular screws.  You’ll have to adjust the screw length from my instructions based on how you do it though.


  • 5 8-foot 2″ poplar boards (actual width is 1 1/2″)
  • 1″ wood screws
  • 1 1/4″ wood screws
  • Kreg jig
  • sandpaper or orbital sander

  • 2 – 15″
  • 6 – 12 1/2″
  • 2 – 16″
  • 2 – 17″
  • 4 – 9 1/2″
  • 4 – 16 1/2″
  • 4 – 18″
  • 4 – 15 1/2″

The frame of the chair is made up of four separate pieces: the seat, the two arms, and the back.  The first step is building the seat, which is narrower at the back than at the front so the rolled arms don’t stick way out on the finished chair.

Lay one of the 15″ pieces flat on the floor and center one of the 12 1/2″ pieces 15″ above it (a cutting mat used for sewing makes this step easier, but use whatever measuring tools you have).  Take the two 16″ pieces and cut the tops and bottoms at 5º, so the outsides measurement is 15″.  If this confuses you, you can also lay the 16″ board on top of the 12 1/2″ and 15″ boards and mark where your cuts should be.

Drill Kreg jig holes in the side pieces and attach using 1″ wood screws.

Drill a Kreg hole in the center of another 12 1/2″ and the other 15″ board and attach them to the base you’ve already made.  Cut the 17″ pieces at 5º angles so the outside measurement is 16 1/2″ or lay the 17″ boards on top of the pieces you just attached and mark where your cuts should be.  Drill Kreg holes in the ends of the side pieces and attach using 1″ screws.

For the arms, drill Kreg holes at the ends of the four 16 1/2″ pieces.  Attach to the four 9 1/2″ pieces as shown, using 1″ screws.  Drill Kreg holes going inward on the bottoms of the arms (you’ll use these holes later to attach the arms to the seat).

Lay an 18″ piece on top of each of the arm frames you’ve built and attach using 1 1/4″ screws straight through the wood (no Kreg holes).  Make sure you place this piece correctly.  It should be on the opposite end of those Kreg holes you drilled to attach to the seat and on the outside (the Kreg holes will be pointing to the inside).

For the back, drill Kreg holes on the ends of the remaining four 12 1/2″ pieces.  Attach to the remaining 18″ pieces using 1″ wood screws.  I lined the top and bottom pieces up exactly with the edges and eyeballed the placement of the center two pieces.

Lay the 15 1/2″ pieces over each of the 12 1/2″ pieces and attach using 1 1/4″ screws straight into the wood below.  I find drilling pilot holes first keeps the wood from splintering.  Also drill pilot holes as shown below that you’ll use later to attach the back to the seat and arms.  Make sure you hold the back up against the arms to see where you need to drill the pilot holes along the sides – they need to be below the tops of the arms.

Use sandpaper or an orbital sander to soften the corners of the seat, arms, and back.  I’ve found this helps prevent sharp edges from poking out and making the upholstery look odd.
And that’s the frame!  Click HERE for directions on assembling and upholstering the chair.
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  • Lisa Spratling

    I love this style of chair, but I don’t think a toddler one would be big enough for me.
    Is it possible to make the chair bigger if you change the measurements?

    • Jennifer@TheChroniclesofHome

      Oh sure, you could tweak it. Depending on the size you’re going for though, you would have to rethink scale, possibly add some more pieces to bump the seat up and keep the scale right.

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  • http://www.becomingwonderland.com/ julie

    Is it a 1x2x8 or a 2x2x8? You simpy say 8’x2″, but there are two options.

    • Jennifer@TheChroniclesofHome

      Hi Julie, you’re right, that’s not clear. It’s a 1×2.

      • http://www.becomingwonderland.com/ julie

        Thanks so much for the prompt reply! I’m hoping to make a couple of these for my kids for Christmas!