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How to Build an Adirondack Chair

How to Build an Adirondack Chair and If All Else Fails Buy One

If you love staying outdoors to enjoy the gentle breeze and listen to birds chirping, you certainly need an Adirondack chair. An Adirondack chair is a sturdy and comfortable piece of outdoor furniture. It’s classic; and features wide armrests and a low-slung seat. 

The chair is unique for its simplicity as some of its parts perform double functions. For instance, Adirondack wide armrests (which you can rest a picnic plate or cocktail) also hold the back support. 

If you have a knack for DIY, you could build an Adirondack chair yourself. Follow the step by step instructions below to make an Adirondack chair. 

The Tools You Need for the Project

Before you start this DIY project, you need the right tools. Otherwise, you will end up wasting your time and getting frustrated. Here are the tools you need; 

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Circular saw
  • Clamps
  • Cordless drill 
  • Countersink drill bit
  • Jigsaw
  • Framing square
  • Orbital sander
  • Miter saw
  • Paint roller
  • Paint tray
  • Paintbrush
  • Safety glasses
  • Tape measure

Once you have the tools, the next step is to get the materials you need and their measurement. 

Materials List and Measurement

The first thing you need when planning to build an Adirondack chair is wood. There are different wood options available. But I recommend Cedarwood because it’s durable and repels insects easily. Also, the wood is beautiful and doesn’t rot quickly. After making your choice of wood, you need the following; 

  • 2 side rails with the dimension: 1 x 5 - ¼ x 33 - ¾ inches
  • 1 top back rail that measures 1x4- ¼ x 23-¼ inches
  • 1 lower back rail with the dimension 1x3 - 1/2 x 23 - ¼ inches
  • 9 seat slats with the dimension ¾ x 2 – ¼ x 23 – ¼ inches
  • 7 back slats with the dimension ¾ x 3 – ¼ x 35 – ½ inches
  • 2 front legs with the dimension 1 x 4 – ¼ x 35 – ½ inches
  • 2 arm brackets with the dimension 1 x 2 – ¾ x 6 – ½ inches
  • 2 arms with the dimension 1x 5 – ¼ x 28 inches
  • 2 cleats measuring 1 x 1 – ½ x 19 – ¼ inches
  • 2 legs with the dimension - 1 x 5 x 16 – ½ inches
  • 2 cedar stretchers with the dimension - ¾ x 5 17 – ½ inches
  • 5 cedar slats with the dimension - 1 x 3 – ¾ x 24 inches
  • Weather-resistant glue
  • One inch long screws
  • 2 inches long wood screws
  • 3 inches long, ½ inch thick nut with bolt
  • 90 Grit sandpaper
  • 220 grit sandpaper
  • Weather-resistant wood filler

The Step By Step Process To Build An Adirondack Chair 

First Stage

Step one: Cut Shapes and Bevels

The first step to building an Adirondack chair is to cut shapes and bevels using your jigsaw. From the available stock, cut shapes similar to the side rails. After cutting the shapes, sand the edge to make them smooth. 

Again, cut the back rails in a way that gives it the right curve for the chair’s back. While cutting, remember that the base rail features a seven-degree bevel and the uppercut is a square. Try to be accurate with your measurement because it affects the final product. 

The next thing is to cut the seat slats. Ensure you make the edge round by one inch. Use a stable work surface to get an accurate cut when rounding the seat slats. Since Adirondack chairs have unique shapes, you need to put bevels on the edges to make it sturdy. Use a hand plane or saw to cut the bevels to the right dimensions. 

Step two: Start the Assembly. 

Once you cut the materials to the right dimensions, the next step is to start assembling the chair. So, put the low back rail with the sides together by using a single screw on each edge to screw the parts together. After which you add the slat using one screw. By this time, it will form a square. Ensure that the corners form a square shape and make adjustments for proper alignment when necessary after which add screws on the end of both slats to secure them. 

As a rule for proper spacing, there should be a gap of about one inch between slats. To ensure that there’s uniformity in the alignment, use a wood block that has one-inch measurement to space the slats. Once you achieve uniform alignment, the next step is to add the remaining slats. 

Step Three: Add the Legs

This step is when you add the legs. It’s a bit sensitive, so try to give it maximum attention. Start by cutting the front legs to their right sizes; ensure that you round the edges correctly on the router table. 

As a way of knowing the bottom of the legs, make markings on the side rails. After which you fix the legs with the screws from the side rails. 

Second Stage

Step 4: Adding the Back 

Use a jigsaw or band saw to cut 5.5 inches of slat bank; one end should be 2.25 wide, and the other is 3.25 wide. After the cut, sand the edges properly to remove rough surfaces and splinters. 

Remember, we have added the front legs in the previous step, right? Good, it’s time to work on the back legs. Cut the back legs to the proper dimension and use your clamps to hold the side rails on. Great, drill holes and use screws to hold the legs temporarily. 

Step 5: Place the Back Slats

The next step is to attach the two ends of the chair’s back legs at the top. After attaching the rear legs, lay the chair on its back to enable you to attach the back slat. If you want to screw the long slats in place quickly, use a 4 inches thick wood block to lift the point you want to screw.

Step 6: Install the Outer Slats

You need to install two out slats to secure the others. They will help to create even spaces and align the curved tops, thus forming a gentle curve. 

Third Stage 

Step 7: Arm Installation 

This is the step where you install the chair’s arm. Start by cutting the arms and supports; ensure you make a round edge in the cut. After cutting, clamp the arms support in place and screw them to secure. Then use screws to attach the arms to both the front and rear legs. 

Step 8: Sanding 

By now, you are through with assembling the chair. So, the next step is to use grit sandpaper to sand the chair’s surfaces until they are smooth and free of splinters and sharp edges. If you are using cedarwood, you may spend more sandpaper because it’s oily and soft.

Step 9: Finishing

Ideally, you should wipe out dust and other debris from the chair’s surfaces after sanding it. After cleaning the surface, use a bristle brush to apply a layer of finishing on the chair. It takes about 24hours for the coat to dry properly. Apply at least 3 coats of finishing again; it helps to protect the wood from weather elements. 

Once the chair is completely dried, it will be ready to use. Sometimes, the leg’s shape tends to dig into soft ground, making it unstable. It could even shift into an awkward angle. So, whenever you want to use the chair, it’s advisable to place the chair where all the 4 legs are resting on a hard or even surface. 

Lastly, try to use a waterproof to cover your chair when it’s not in use, this helps you to protect it from rain and other elements.

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