Can a chair be comfortable, look good,
recline, disassemble for compactness
and portability, and still be made from
just a single sheet of plywood?
With a determination borne of frustration and frugality,
I set about designing a chair that would meet all my
requirements. I began by making a crude study model,
with all body-supporting surfaces adjustable: the seat, the
back, armrests, headrest, footstool, the angle between
the seat and back, even the overall size. The model’s only
given: it would use a set of standard patio chair cushions
and one sheet of plywood.
Somewhere in the middle of seemingly infinite adjustments, I discovered that recliners really are much more
comfortable than upright chairs, so I threw reclinability
into the mix as well.
Finally I found a combination that fits — ergonomically,
esthetically, and economically. It’s even been sleep-tested.
I call it the Rok-Bak chair.
The Rok-Bak is very comfortable, easy and inexpensive to
build, can be assembled or disassembled in a few minutes,
and can be stored and moved about easily, taking up very
Photograph by Sam Murphy
Set up: p. 91
Make it: p. 92
Use it: p. 99
Larry Cotton is a semi-retired power tool designer and part-time community college math instructor.
He loves music and musical instruments, computers, birds, electronics, furniture design, and his wife,
not necessarily in that order.