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African Bush Camp Chair

In Africa, the robust and portable Bush Camp Chair is made from mahogany, and is used primarily for gatherings around campfires to share meals and conversation.

This project was inspired by one of our readers, who recently returned from a mission trip to Africa. Robust and portable, in Africa it is made from readily available mahogany, and is used predominantly by men who gather around campfires in the evening for eating, smoking and conversation. More intricate carvings are sometimes produced for tribal chiefs. Impressed by the comfort and simplicity of design, our reader brought home a chair to be used not only as a relaxing place to sit, but also as a piece of hand-crafted African art, as a memory of the trip, and a unique conversation piece.

The chair we built for our project to replicate the African design can be used around campfires at home, on the dock, the patio, or alongside the soccer field. Not having access to large pieces of mahogany, we laminated together two pieces of 1" x 12" x 6' pine using glue and 1-1/2" wood screws. The screws can be removed when the glue has dried. This provides a piece of material with the strength required for suitable support. We also routered the edges of the seat and back with a 3/8" rounding bit, but this is optional.

African Bush Camp Chair

What You'll Need


  • 1x 12" pine, 6 feet
  • carpenters' glue 2020-041
  • 1-1/2" #8 screws
  • stain
  • urethane
  • sandpaper 1230-956


Here's How

  1. Transfer the pattern of the back and seat to the laminated board. Using a jigsaw, cut out the two sections. Drill a pilot hole for the jigsaw to cut out the slot in the seat back. The seat section should slide easily through the slot, but do not over-cut the size of the opening. Sand the two sections when finished.
  2. The chair can be finished with any colour or design you wish. In our project we used a Dremel "Versa Tip" tool kit to create a Canadian motif before any finish was applied. A design or stencil to "burn" may be directly drawn on the pine with pencil, or transferred from an existing design as follows:

    Tape the drawing you have chosen to the pine surface, and gently trace its outline and detail with a ball point pen. The pressure will transfer the outline to the soft pine surface, at which point you can remove the taped drawing, and draw in the picture with pencil to make it more visible. To get a "feel" for the burning tool, test the various interchangeable tips on a scrap piece of pine, then carefully burn your pattern into the seat back.

  3. Stain your design with one or more colours, or apply a clear finish over the entire chair. We stained our chair seat and border with a dark stain, and the leaves with a contrasting lighter stain. You will find that the burned lines create a barrier to prevent the stain from bleeding into adjoining areas. After the stain dries completely, apply three coats of clear urethane finish.

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