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stool-drawing.jpgIn this post we show you how to combine that old tractor or lawn mower seat you’ve got lying around the shop with a broken office chair to create a great, inexpensive rolling shop chair.  Why pay $30 for one from Sears — that doesn’t raise and lower pneumatically or hold your weight as well — when you can build your own for less, or even for free if you’re willing to root around a bit for parts?

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Best of all, when everyone asks you, “Where’d you get that chair?” you can answer: I made it. 

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Lots more, including detailed build instructions and photos, after the jump.

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Obviously, you’re going to need some kind of seat for this project.  We built our first chair out of an old seat we found on a lawn mower rusting at the flea market.  We gave $1 for it, and with a little bead blasting it came out looking great.  You can also find these lying around lawn mower repair shops. 

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If you really don’t want to go looking, you can pick them up off eBay for $20 or less shipped.  Try searching terms like “tractor seat” or “lawn mower seat.”  We wanted a second seat quickly, so we picked up the one in this build off eBay for $20 shipped.  (I know — shame on us.  I promise we’ll dumpster-dive for the next one.)DSC03711A.jpg

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Next, you need a busted office chair of some sort.  The one for this particular build had lived in our offices for way too long before one of the arms finally broke, rendering it unusable.  Most of the broken chairs you’ll find have issues in the chair itself vs. the mechanism below, which is great for this purpose. 

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Even when the mechanism breaks, it’ll often crack, allowing the chair body (or some metal part under it) to contact the button on the top of the pneumatic cylinder (thus lowering the chair).  Chairs with this problem are also fine for this project as you can easily weld up the crack or just fabricate around it so it’s not an issue.

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We feel like your budget for the broken chair shouldn’t exceed $5, and you really should shoot for free.  Check used office furniture warehouses for an easy find, or the flea market works ok.  Asking neighbors works, too, or just watch on “big trash day” and look for one out by the curb.

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DSC03712B.jpgYour build will vary based on your particular chair’s mounting system, but we used just a few scraps of steel lying around the shop to mount the seat.  In our case we used 22″ of 14 gauge 1″ square tubing and a 7-1/2″ piece of 1/8″x6″ bar stock.  Purchased from the steel supply shop, this stuff would have cost about $5.  Honestly, the bar stock is overkill, but we had a big piece in the bin from the game chair build.

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Finally, you’ll need a bolt and nut to hold the seat on.  We used a 1/2″x2″ carriage bolt — whose square fitting matched perfectly with the square hole on the seat — and a 1/2″-15 nut.

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We used our Millermatic 250 MIG welder to hook all the parts together, but you could easily complete this project with the little Hobart Handler 125 EZ we used for the game chair.  Or, if you’re still welderless, you could bolt it together.  You could even use wood if that’s all you have tools to handle.

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One quick note: We saw a lot of comments on our game chair build along the lines of “that’s great, but I don’t know how to weld.”  We can’t stress enough how simple it is weld with today’s wire welders.  It’s nothing like the bad old days of stick welding.  By just reading the manual and spending 30 minutes practicing on some scrap, you can easily complete projects like the game chair — and certainly handle projects like this.  Why not give is a shot?

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We also used our band saw to cut the tubing and bar, and we used a small sledge hammer to close up the ends of the tubing.  We used the anvil to beat on, but you can easily do this on your driveway or workbench.  We also used a small angle grinder with a flap disc to clean up our welds.  You can get away without most of these tools, but they do make life easier.explode.jpg


All you’re looking to do is connect the seat to the chair in such a manner that it allows the chair’s pneumatic cylinder to work correctly.  Most cylinders have a little red button on top that releases the mechanism and allows it to move up (on its own) or down (if you’re sitting in it).  This button is actuated by a lever that sticks out the side. 

If the chair’s mount extends significantly above the button/lever assembly, you can just add a crossbar and drill a hole for the seat.  On the other hand, if yours is like ours was this time, the mount is pretty much flat and depends on a curve moulded into the chair for clearance.  In these cases, you’ll need to elevate the seat a little bit.

We figured an inch would do fine, so we just created an H-shaped piece out of two 9″ pieces of 1″ square tube and a piece of 1/8″x6″ bar stock as shown here.  You can accomplish this however you want, as long as you provide clearance for the button/lever.

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13 Responses to How-To: Turn an Old Tractor Seat into a Great Shop Chair

  1. [...] How-To: Turn an Old Tractor Seat into a Great Shop Chair We put the chocolate of an old tractor seat with the peanut butter of a broken office chair to make a slick little roll-around for the shop.  Follow our instructions to build your own. [...]

  2. Rubes says:

    This is the second project with the wirewelder that i’ve seen on toolmonger. If I had a better workshop area to store it in and work on projects I probably would have picked one up already. Keep the great articles coming!

  3. Eric says:


  4. Dean says:

    I’m a little late to this, but I’m new to the site and just had to say how much I love this project! I’m a huge fan of old tractors and this would be perfect for my barn/shop/garage. Thank you for this!

  5. [...] Or maybe you could turn that old tractor or lawnmower seat you’ve got laying around into a sweet shop chair.  We’ve got two of ‘em in the Toolmonger shop now. [...]

  6. [...] Welding is a skill that’s incredibly useful and a lot of fun, too.  We’ve written quite a bit about it — including a few projects you might want to try — but today I ran across a great “getting started” guide from the people over at Custom Classic Trucks.  Like us, they’re enamoured with the MIG/wire process, which is way, way easier than stick welding.  So if you’ve tried stick welding and hated it, you might want to give wire welding a chance.  Try it — you’ll like it! [...]

  7. [...] Since we were tired of standing (and kneeling and squatting) around the shop – and we had a few tractor seats and broken office chairs lying around — we welded ‘em up into some quick (and awesome) shop chairs, then posted a how-to to help you do the same. [...]

  8. [...] If you have an old tractor seat or lawn-mower seat lying around (or you could put a wanted ad on Freecycle, I’ve acquired an old tractor tyre in this way to make a sandpit for my young daughter) and a broken office chair, you can make this really cool tractor seat swivel chair. Full instructions here. I once bought one of these (with a flimsy plastic seat) from Ikea for my son and was charged a whopping great £19.99. You can make this project for nothing. But even if you resort to buying a tractor seat at a car boot sale or similar, it’ll still be a whole lot cheaper, and more unique, than shelling out for the plastic manufactured alternative (and of course there’s always the karma that comes from keeping stuff out of landfill – priceless). [...]

  9. Tracy Allen says:

    You also could buy a fancy store bought one like at http://www.denlorstools.com/ but that wouldn’t be nearly as much fun!

  10. Barry Horton says:

    This is a really great Eco idea, especially for old tractor enthusiasts. I have the top of a broken Windsor arm chair fixed onto a broken office chair base that I use at my shop desk, but these look like much more fun.

  11. Margo Summers says:

    Why doesn’t someone make a tractor seat into a seat for a bicycle? We older folks neet a larger more comfortable seat. Tractor seats raw, are more comfortable than the little things they have now.

    If you ever hear of someone doing this please contact me. I have been searching for months.

  12. [...] — or a couple if you plan on inviting your friends over for shop fun. And unless you plan on building your own, $100 flat isn’t really that bad for a fancy seat like this [...]

  13. [...] ottoman was created out of a washing machine drum. It’s a great example of upcycling.This tractor seat turned office or shop chair, is another great upcycling idea.How about a seat belt key holder? Designer Thabto has created a [...]

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