Thursday, June 24, 2010

Adirondack Chair - Part One

A good friend and previous customer ordered her second Adirondack chair and I thought I would take some step-by-step photos as I started the project. Maybe this will be helpful for those who haven’t tried to build one of these great chairs, or is curious about how they go together. My design is a modified version of Tom Begnal’s chair from Fine Woodworking. I have made some subtle changes with each one I build, mostly with the seat slates and the arm shape/width.

 Chair parts cut and ready to assemble

First I cut the parts required for the chair. Having built a number of these, I have a set of templates made of hardboard to speed up the layout of most of the curved parts.

Chair base complete

Take the two sides and attach the front seat slat, drill and counter sink the holes. I use waterproof glue and stainless steel screws and bolts in my chairs.  Once the front seat slat is installed, and the lower cradle and attach the same way you did the front slat.

Glue the leg assemblies now, I find this easier than bolting the chair to the body and then trying to add the arm support parts. Again, SS screws and waterproof glue. I drilled the holes for the arm attachment later in the process.

Clamp the front leg assemblies to the base. Mark and drill the bolt holes to attach the front legs. The angle of the chair is determined by the cut on the bottom of the sides so when you lift the front, it will be clear where to drill the holes to attach the legs. Quick clamps help out here.

Front legs bolted to the chair frame with 3/8” SS bolts, washers and nuts. Next step is to prepare the back risers.

Determine the angle to cut the back risers. This is where the upper cradle attaches and determines the slant of the chair back. In this case the angle is 25*. Anything less and the back may be more upright, more and the back will lay back. A personal preference, but this angle seems to be most comfortable.

Attach back risers in the same manners as the front legs. Glue prior to bolting the risers, unlike I did the first time I bolted these to the sides :) 

Add a temporary spacer at the top of the risers to get the proper spacing for the upper cradle. Drill and countersink the holes for the cradle and attach with glue and screws to the top of the risers.

Completed base assembly
The base is now complete. All of the back slats and seat slates have been cut, sanded, and ready for the finish. This chair will receive 2 coats of Porter Paint's exterior latex enamel. In the past I have either brushed or sprayed the paint after the chair is complete. I found it very difficult to get into all the tight spots after so this time I am going to paint everything before attaching the slats and arms. Look for the results in the second part of this post. You can see the templates I mentioned earlier on the right edge of the photo.


  1. Your assembly instructions are interesting. I build a quality Adirondak chair that you can see at

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