Easy To Make Furniture: Sunset DIY Manual From the 1970s

PVC pipe and an avocado colored cushion? Instant outdoor furniture, or so this campy 1970s furniture manual, Easy-to-Make Furniture,from the editors of Sunset Magazine, would have you believe.

While I think DIY furniture books from this period are somewhat horrifying, I have a respect for their can-do attitude in the face of the era’s declining wood shop skills. Then, WHAM, the global economy and Ikea came along and wiped out the last remaining economic reasons to try to make your own furniture.

That being said, I think some clever folks with time on their hands and an eye for discarded materials could make use of some of the concepts in this book.

So start dumpster diving! Let’s take those scavenged materials and revisit the bean bag. Easy-to-Make furniture has its own unique twist on the concept. Say hello to the “Multiposition Tube Seat”:

And yes you can have a particle board chair:

With a built-in magazine rack:

Scope out this book in its entirety here.

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  1. Ack! I remember all the particle board, two-by-four, and plywood furniture. Yep, it is just as hideous as I remember! The folding table is interesting.

    The jean pocket organizer is now on my to-do list, except I will make it hang instead of stapling it to a board.That’s clever.

    The last part of the book with the tools, tips, and techniques seems to be the most valuable part of the book.

  2. I saw a clever plywood bed frame once that fit together like tab A in slot B. It tapered in at the bottom and then two pieces of plywood for a platform fit down in it and bolted together. The mattress then sat on the platform and the sides of the bed came up around it a bit. One could disassemble this bed in a hurry and it would just be 6 odd shaped boards. The only hardware was the bolts holding the platform together.

  3. My husband has a thankfully limited collection of this genre. But yes, they do inspire.
    Or for many of us bring back those memories of sitting out in a Florida room on pipe furniture.

  4. This is probably too embarrassing to admit, but I still have a copy of that book. Never built anything from it and looking at it now, I can’t remember why I bought it, though it dates to my college student era. Maybe I aspired to more than brick-and-board bookcases. And the fact that I STILL own it is embarrassing on it’s own – a sure sign that I need to go through my books and maybe clear out the deadwood.

    Then again, if it made it to Root Simple, maybe it’s worth some money????

  5. Oh and mine still has the price sticker on the cover: $5.95. And it’s the Eighth Printing 1986, so it was about the time I bought the house. I guess I needed some furniture.

  6. Kathy,

    I’d like to think that we’ve inflated the value of 1970s DIY furniture books and that they could be used as barter in some kind of Mayan apocalypse scenario.


    Maybe there’s a DIY clog book out there somewhere?


    Indeed. Maybe someone can build a MDF chair supported by taxidermy squirrels.


    Keep an eye on that husband.


    Love the idea


    Good luck with the organizer.

    • Indeed. Maybe someone can build a MDF chair supported by taxidermy squirrels.

      Yes! It could look something like this.(Scroll down to Q6).

      Now I just need some more squirrels…

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