How to Make a Mardi Gras Ladder Chair
Learn how to make a Mardi Gras ladder chair and why it is more than a typical Mardi Gras ladder chair. Mardi Gras ladder chairs are very popular on parade routes in South Louisiana and they are very easy to build. This project was a great idea, but I needed to find a way to make this project more interesting since this is such an easy project. Well, I think I did just that.
Tools I used for this project: View complete list at My Tools page.
- Digital Plans for this project (step by step instructions)
- Table Saw
- Miter Saw
- Push-Bloc Pad for Table Saw
- Router 1/4″ round over bit Bit
- Nap Roller
- Acrylic Paint – Yellow, Green, Purple
- Bench Cookies
Tools Needed: Table Saw, Circular Saw, &/or Miter Saw
I’ve placed the 4 pieces needed to make the Mardi Gras Ladder Chair on a sheet of 4’x4’ plywood. A 2’ x 4’ sheet of plywood is all that is needed to complete this project, but I like to buy more than what I need in case I make a mistake.
- Cut List
- Qty. 1
- 11 1/4″ x 22 1/2″
- Qty. 1
- 12″ x 22 1/2″
- Qty. 2
- 12″ x 12″
Prepare Sides of Chair
To prepare the 2 sides of the chair, you will need to:
- Cut the half moon on the top front with a jig saw or hand saw per the measurements below. The 3 lines at 5 5/8” will help give you a guide to draw the half circle.
- Drill ½” hole for 3/8” dowel. 6 ¾” from the bottom and 1” over to left.
This step is optional if you have a router. This makes the joints between the sides panels have more of a seamless to the back and seat. It also provides a bit more strength as well.
If you don’t have a router, skip this step and join the pieces together with glue and screws.
With a ¼” rabbeting bit, route a groove on the inside bottom & inside back of each arm as depicted in the picture below.
Before proceeding to the next step, please test fit the pieces to make sure the rabbets fit.
Tools Needed: Router with ¼” roundover bit ‘OR’ Orbital Sander with 180 grit & 220 grit sandpaper
The purpose of this step is to get nice smooth edges on the entire piece. Additionally, I encourage you to do this on every piece except for the rabbet edges.
You can accomplish this with a router with a ¼” roundover bit or an orbital sander.
If you plan to use the orbital sander, make sure to make 2 passes – 1 with 180 grit sandpaper and another pass with 220 grit sandpaper.
Prime and Paint
Before beginning, make sure each piece is free of dust and debris. A tack clothis great to use to get rid of dust and debris.
Prime each workpiece with Zinnser. This product is very low odor and it is the best primer on the market.
I recommend 2 coats of semi-gloss or satin paint of your choice. Semi gloss and satin will help protect the chair from the elements and wear/tear. Use Mardi Gras colors for some extra flare.
Put It Together
Start by putting the piece together to mark the pilot holes. Mark the pilot holes about 4 inches apart.
Next, Drill the pilot holes while the pieces are next to one another and line up.
Then, Put a generous amount of glue on the bottom back piece and join the back to the seat piece with screws. Use a speed square or combination square to make sure the back piece is 90 degrees to the seat.
Wipe off any excess glue on the bottom that may have squeezed out to prevent the piece from drying to your work surface.
Cover the rabbit joints with glue and repeat the steps above to the sides, but be careful to not tighten the screws too much. The wood is a bit thinner here because of the rabbet joints.
The screws are simply there to hold the piece together firmly until glue dries. Wipe off any excess glue.
FInally, let everything dry overnight.
Seal Dowel and Mount the Chair
I don’t normally paint dowels for Mardi Gras Chairs because they tend to get abused, which ruins the paint.
Plus, it’s not easy to paint a round object without a paint sprayer.
However, I do recommend sealing the dowel to ensure it survives the outdoor elements and lasts more than one or two Mardi Gras seasons.
Any polyurethane finish will work. I like this one, which dries fast and works very well. Apply 2 coats and you are good to go.
Each ladder is different, which is why I didn’t include specific hardware and instructions on how to mount the chair.
Ladders normally have holes at the top.
So, I recommend placing the chair on top of the ladder and make sure it is centered.
Then, mark the holes with a pencil and drill out the appropriate size to match the size bolt you will use. To secure the chair use flat head bolts, 2 washers, and a wing nut for each hole. I also recommend using stainless steel hardware.
Mardi Gras Chairs are very dangerous if they aren’t built properly and securely fastened to the top of a ladder.
I cannot guarantee the safety of this chair, so build and secure it to the top of your ladder at your own risk.
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