How To Build An Adirondack Chair

Today our project is making an Adirondack chair. And we’re actually getting the plans; right out of the Fine Woodworking This is their outdoor projects, 2013 version.

If you’ve got this magazine, or you go to your newsstand you’ll be able to buy it for the summer months it’s usually available for three or four months, and it’s got great colored pictures in there, shows all the dimensions everything you need on putting brothers, and other different kind of chair, but all of the detail on how to put this chair together, and we’re going to do a video on this, so you can see all of the multiple steps in building your own Adirondack chair.

Now the ones that we’re using for this project is called Red Cedar, and we actually went to a local mill and got ours, and it’s what they call four quarter, or one inch thick so I’m going to have to plane this down, because the plans call for three quarter inch. But for you, you can go to your local lumber store and buy a three-quarter inch already plain material, and that’s the quickest and easiest way to get the material for this project.

So after arranging all of the boards. The next thing I need to do is to joint them so that they can be cut to length, and to width.

The next thing I’m going to do is cut the arms to length, and because I’ve already got a good jointed edge on both of them. I can actually put them both together and do what we call a gang. Cut. And so I’ve already lined up. The blade and relined up the blade now, and I’m ready to make that cut.

After you’ve trimmed all of your boards to length. The next thing you’re going to need to do is trim them to width and we do that on the table saw. Before we get started, it’s important to remember that the saw blade wants to be a quarter to a half tooth above the material and we do that both for a better cut and for safety reasons.

We’re making some progress here. These are all the seat slots, so they’ll be under this part here. And these are all of the back so they’ll be going up the back of the chair, and they’ll be aligned like this. Now what I want to do with all of these is I want to ease this very sharp edge on here, but I only need to do it on the top side, and I’m going to do it on the backs and on the seat, and I have the router set up here with a three eighths quarter round in it.

I’ve set up all of the dust control and everything, and I’m just going to run through all of these, and just put a little quarter round and we’ll show you a close up of that. Now, like all things with the router. If you’re ever dealing with cross grain and of course we’re dealing with cross grain here, we always do the cross grain first. So what I’m going to be doing is the cross grain and then this, then the cross grain and then finishing with the long grain and when you do that, you will eliminate any chances of tear out.

The backs to the chairs call for the slats to have a little bit of a taper to them and I cut them off camera, but I wanted to show you what I did and how I did that. When I’m cutting cedar, I have this guard on because it helps circulate the chips down into the machine and of into the dust collector. I really hate having cedar coming at me in this on this saw this guard comes off really easy. No, it actually tightens up underneath with a bolt. But I want to take it off so you can actually see, and I’m not going to cut any wood, but I want you to see what happened.

And for this, I made a simple a very simple tapering Jake and a tapering Jake always has a little kind of a notch thing at the bottom, because you want to hold the wood from whipping back. And basically what I did was set it up in such a way that it just took a couple minutes to do, because at the top of these, of these chair backs, they want to be two inches and tapered down to one and three quarters there’s not much of a taper on them.

So what I did was I just set this up manually on the saw. And all you need is a piece of scrap quarter inch plywood. An old chunk of another chunk of plywood, with a little notch thing at the bottom. And basically you just set it up and again, the blade height is important, because you never want the blade any higher than the material so I would have said the blade right about there. And basically, you started here and just push it through the saw.

Because this is a little bit of an offset it gives you an I know it’s a little bit hard to see but there is a little bit this is three quarters of an inch down here to two inches up here. And that’s what this tapering Jake does pretty simple to make, and maybe in a future video, we’ll actually make an adjustable one of these.

Now the instructions say at the bottom to put some little quarter inch tabs. And that’s what I put down here and you can see they’re just loose in there, all the way along the bottom, and to put some three eighths little pieces in here and you can see I’ve done that all the way along here, and this was the 18 and a half inch mark, so that gives this sort of a fanning effect to this back.

Now, the next thing to do is I’ve actually got this secured I just put a couple little finishing nails in the top in the bottom so this doesn’t move around on me. The next thing it says you have to make a simple compass and that’s, that’s all this is. And basically what we’re going to do. I’ve got a little nail in there and just kind of drive that nail through a little bit, and I’ve already marked down 10 inches from the top here, and this is just a little under 10 inches.

So we’re going to put the screw in there and we’ll just pack that very lightly. And then we’ll put the pencil in the game we’re using I’m using the white pencil so I can see it better. And we’re just going to mark each one of these boards, then we’ll basically just go to the bandsaw, and we’ll cut these off, and that will be the top of the chair.

This is all of the pieces to the chair and you can see there’s a lot of different pieces and sometimes there’s different shapes and sizes to them. I actually label them, especially ones that I’m not quite sure of, like the front verticals and the back supports, the arms and the bottom support, the seat in the back; you don’t really need to label those because they’re pretty obvious but the other ones.

I find it a lot easier to label them, because I don’t want to start cutting something wrong. When I already have the rough shape there so might be something you want to think about where you’ve got multiple pieces like this.

Now here’s a side view of a rough drawing of this Adirondack chair, and the next part that we want to make is this part here (side piece) and now they actually give you in the magazine or if you’re working off the website, they actually give you sort of a rough drawing of it here, but they don’t really go into details of it, and that’s what we’re going to do here is we’re going to show you. It says reproduce at 400%.

The quickest and easiest thing to do is to get yourself some dividers, like this, and you can get you use the divider. On the plans, you take a known area and they do give you some dimensions, so you can take some of those, or you can just simply put the dividers on an area, and I’ll do it on here, for example you put the dividers on here. And we know that we need to expand this 400% so basically this is one, we just need to do that four more times. So when we get the board laid out.

All we have to do is go, 1… 2… 3… 4…, and that would be the market, from your viewing perspective, here’s where the back is going to come up. And this is the seat area in here. And another one here. And you can see just by moving at that point, I actually have this wood now making this graceful curve. So all I need to do now is to follow this with my pencil line.

This is the top view of what the arms look like. So I’m just going to use the same techniques using the dividers, because they give you enough dimensions on here that you can use the dividers, and use the four times, click, click, click, click.

One of the things they call for in the plans is to have a board that would have to be eight inches wide, and I knew that I was going to have lots of leftover material. So rather than buy big boards and actually have to cut away so much waste, what I did, because I knew I would have extra pieces left over, and I did, I actually just glued on a little bit of wood. For this area right in here.

Well that glorious day assembly has finally arrived, and they’ve done a few things off camera to help speed things up. I’m going to tell you a little bit about the hardware, but what we’re going to do first of all is we’re going to be putting this, I’ve actually got this on the workbench now we’re going to be putting this, and a couple of bolts in here. And I come in here and we’re going to assemble all of this stuff this bottom stuff.

Here’s our chair laid out so here’s the bottom. The bottom rail and this is where the ground would be sitting on right here and right here, and from your angle where you’re looking at I have these aligned with the very front of my workbench, so that this is sort of the ground level down here, and this square is, I’m using it to align this because I need to put a bolt a couple of bolts in here, and they need to quit a couple of bolts in here, because this is the upright, here, and this is where the back is going to come up from this area here. And here’s the arm it was none of this is, is fastened down yet. I’m just sort of laying this out. So you see what this looks like.

Now that we’ve got the, the bottom part and the front legs on, we can actually lift the chair up, and it actually starts to resemble what we set out to make.

Actually the back has to go on first. So what I did was make a center line on both the top and the bottom. And remember we marked all of these back, supports, so we know which one goes there. And that’s the center one and that will go there and we’ll put that on and then we use the spacers that we use when we did the original arching on the top, and we use that spacing, and I’ll go ahead and start putting those on that gives you an idea what the chairs starting to look like now actually starting to look like a chair.

So now I’m going to go ahead and put screws in all the bottom and drill the upper support and put all of these parts together now.

Now with backs on we can start putting on the seat. And I’m going to take a minute to position these off camera, just to make sure that there’s a little bit of space between I might need to use some spacers. So, I’m going to do that off camera. They’re all pre-drilled. And then the last thing we need to do is to drill these seat covers and put them on.

The best way to do this is to just use little spacers and I use the same spaces that I used on the, top of the top slats so I’m just going to go ahead now these are all pre-drilled and I’m just going to go ahead and start putting all of the seats together.

I put this level on here, this is just sitting for free now and I’ve put a little wedge at the back there. And all I need to do now is put some screw holes through here and screw this on position this and screwed. This arm on and do the same thing from the back of screw put a couple of screws on in the back of that one.

Then I’ll be able to drill right down into that and that will fasten that arm, and then off camera I’m just going to do the same on the other arm but you don’t need to see that now that you understand how that’s done. And that’ll have the arms on .

I’ve got the arms on now and that concludes the making of the chair. The next thing I’m going to do now is, move the bench out of the way here, and we’re going to put this right down on the floor, where it’s best viewed any furniture that you make is best viewed when it’s actually in the position that it’s going to be used in so we’re going to put that down. We’re going to sit in and see how comfortable this chair is.

And here’s our finished chair, and it’s in the position that it will be when it’s on the deck or on the lawn, and it’s actually very comfortable to sit in the scooped back to scoot back and the and the dip in the in the seat makes it a comfortable chair to sit in especially if you’re going to be sitting in it for long periods of times very comfortable chair to sit in.

So if you’re interested in making this chair you can go right to this outdoor projects and this is Fine Woodworking magazine, I just picked up on the magazine stand and it’s 2013 and it should be available for several months on the newsstands, if not you can get plans online from the

Kevin Nelson

I will always have a special place in my heart for woodworking. I have such fond memories working on projects with my parents on the weekends in the garage growing up. We built tables, shelves, a backyard shed, 10' base for a water slide into the pool, 2 story fort playhouse with a fire pole, and so much more. This woodworking blog allows me to write helpful articles so others can enjoy woodworking as much as we have.

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