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How to Build an Adirondack Chair (with plans)

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BLACK+DECKER B+D Contributor 193 Projects

Adirondack furniture has become a standard on decks, porches, and patios throughout the world. It’s no mystery that this distinctive furniture style has become so popular. Attractive but rugged design and unmatched stability are just two of the reasons for its timeless appeal, and our Adirondack chair offers these benefits and more.

Unlike most of the Adirondack chair designs you’re likely to run across, this one is very easy to build. There are no complex compound angles to cut, no intricate details in the back and seat slats, and no complicated joints. It can be built with basic tools and simple techniques. And because this design features all of the classic Adirondack chair elements, your guests and neighbors may never guess that you built it yourself (but you’ll be proud to tell them you did).

We made our Adirondack chair out of cedar and finished it with clear wood sealer. But you may prefer to build your version from pine (a traditional wood for Adirondack furniture), especially if you plan to paint the chair. White, battleship gray, and forest green are popular color choices for Adirondack furniture. Be sure to use quality exterior paint with a glossy or enamel finish.

Adirondack Chair Plans

Adirondack Cutting List

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How to Build an Adirondack Chair

  1. Adirondack chair 1

    Sprawling back legs that support the seat slats and stretch to the ground on a near-horizontal plane are signature features of the Adirondack style. Start by cutting the legs to length. To cut the tapers, mark a point 2" from the edge on one end of the board. Then, mark another point 6" from the end on the adjacent edge. Connect the points with a straightedge. On the same end, mark a point 2 1⁄4" from the other edge. Then, on that edge mark a point 10" from the end. Connect these points to make a cutting line for the other taper. Cut the two taper cuts with a circular saw. Use the tapered leg as a template to mark and cut identical tapers on the other leg of the chair.

  2. The legs form the sides of the box frame, which supports the seat slats. Where the text calls for deck screw counterbores, drill holes 1⁄8" deep with a counterbore bit. Cut the apron and seat support to size. Attach the apron to the front ends of the legs with glue and 3" deck screws. Position the seat support so the inside face is 16 1⁄2" from the inside edge of the apron. Attach the seat support between the legs, making sure the part tops are flush. Cut the seat slats to length, and sand the ends smooth. Arrange the slats on top of the seat box, and use wood scraps to set 5⁄8" spaces between the slats. The slats should overhang the front of the seat box by 3⁄4".

  3. Adirondack chair 2

    Fasten the seat slats by drilling counterbored pilot holes and driving 2" deck screws through the holes and into the tops of the apron and seat support. Keep the counterbores aligned so the cedar plugs used to fill the counterbores form straight lines across the front and back of the seat. Once the slats are installed, use a router with a 1⁄4" roundover bit (or a power sander) to smooth the outside edges and ends of the slats.

  4. The back slats are made from three sizes of dimension lumber: 1 × 2, 1 × 4, and 1 × 6. Cut the back slats to length. Trim off the corners on the widest (1 × 6) slat. First, mark points 1" in from the outside top corners. Then, mark points 1" down from the corners on the outside edges. Connect the points and trim along the lines with a saw. Mark the 1 × 4 slats 2" from one top corner in both directions. Draw cutting lines and trim the same way (these are the outer slats on the back).

  5. Cut the low back brace and the high back brace and set them on a flat surface. Slip 3⁄4"-thick spacers under the high brace so the tops of the braces are level. Then, arrange the back slats on top of the braces with 5⁄8" spacing between slats. The untrimmed ends of the slats should be flush with the bottom edge of the low back brace. The bottom of the high back brace should be 26" above the top of the low brace. The braces must be perpendicular to the slats. Drill pilot holes in the low brace and counterbore the holes. Then, attach the slats to the low brace by driving 2" deck screws through the holes. Follow the same steps for the high brace and attach the slats with 11⁄4" deck screws.

  6. Adirondack chair 3

    The broad arms of the chair, cut from 1 x 6 material, are supported by posts in front and the arm cleat attached to the backs of the chair slats. Cut the arms to length. To create decorative angles at the outer end of each arm, mark points 1" from each corner along both edges. Use the points to draw a pair of 1 1⁄2" cutting lines on each arm. Cut along the lines using a jigsaw or circular saw.Mark points for cutting a tapered cut on the inside back edge of each arm (see Diagram). First, mark points 3 1⁄4" in from each inside edge on the back of each arm. Next, mark the outside edges 10" from the back. Then, connect the points and cut along the cutting line with a circular saw or jigsaw. Sand the edges smooth.

  7. Adirondack chair 4

    Cut the arm cleat and make a mark 2 1⁄2" in from each end of the cleat. Set the cleat on edge on your work surface. Position the arms on the cleat top edge so the arm back ends are flush with the cleat back, and the untapered edge of each arm is aligned with the 21⁄2" mark. Fasten the arms to the cleats with glue. Drill pilot holes in the arms and counterbore the holes. Drive 3" deck screws through the holes and into the cleat. Cut the posts to size. Then, use a compass to mark a 1 3⁄4"-radius roundover cut on each bottom post corner (the roundovers improve stability). Position the arms on top of the square ends of the posts. The posts should be set back 1 1⁄2" from the front ends of the arm and 1" from the inside edge of the arm. Fasten the arms to the posts with glue. Drill pilot holes in the arms and counterbore the holes. Then, drive 3" deck screws through the arms and into the posts.

  8. Adirondack chair 5

    Cut tapered arm braces from wood scraps, making sure the wood grain runs lengthwise. Position an arm brace at the outside of each arm/post joint, centered side to side on the post. Attach each brace with glue. Drill counterbored pilot holes in the inside face of the post near the top . Then, drive deck screws through the holes and into the brace. Drive a 2" deck screw down through each arm and into the top of the brace.

  9. Adirondack chair 6

    Adirondack chair 7

    To complete the construction, join the back, seat/leg assembly, and arm/post assembly. Before you start, gather scrap wood to brace the parts while you fasten them. Set the seat/leg assembly on your work surface, clamping a piece of scrap wood to the front apron to raise the assembly front until the leg bottoms are flush on the surface (about 10"). Use a similar technique to brace the arm/post assembly so the back cleat bottom is 20" above the work surface. Arrange the assembly so the posts fit around the front of the seat/leg assembly and the bottom edge of the apron is flush with the front edges of the posts. Drill a 1⁄4"-dia. pilot hole through the inside of each leg and partway into the post. Drive a 3⁄8 × 2 1⁄2" lag screw and washer through each hole, but do not tighten completely. Remove the braces. Position the back so the low back brace is between the legs and the slats are resting against the front of the arm cleat. Clamp the back to the seat support with a C-clamp, making sure the low brace top edge is flush with the tops of the legs. Tighten the lag screws at the post/leg joints. Then, add a second lag screw at each joint. Drill three evenly spaced pilot holes near the top edge of the arm cleat and drive 1 1⁄2" deck screws through the holes and into the back slats. Drive 3" deck screws through the legs and into the ends of the low back brace.

  10. Adirondack chair 8

    Cut or buy 1⁄4"-thick, 3⁄8"-dia. cedar wood plugs and glue them into visible counterbores. After the glue dries, sand the plugs even with the surrounding surface. Finish-sand all exposed surfaces with 120-grit sandpaper. Finish the chair as desired; we simply applied a coat of clear wood sealer.

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