Choosing the right wood
Plop down in one of these
solid wood chairs and
you'll appreciate the
comfort of this traditional design. You don't have to
be an expert to build it either. All the parts of this
solid, great-looking Adirondack chair can be cut with a circular
saw and jigsaw, then assembled with a drill, a few clamps and glue.
Even if you're a novice, you'll be
able to follow our plan drawing and
clear step-by-step photos. We've
also included a Shopping List and
Cutting List (see Additional Information, below) so you can spend less
time head-scratching and more
We made our chair from yellow
poplar. Poplar is lightweight, strong, inexpensive and easy to
work with, plus it takes paint beautifully.
If you have trouble finding it,
almost any other wood will do:
Alder, aspen, maple and white oak
are excellent hardwood choices, and
cedar, cypress, fir and pine are good
softwood choices. Keep in mind
that hardwood will be more
durable, but softwood is certainly
strong enough for this project. However, if the chair will be outdoors most of the time, coat it with a paintable wood preservative before painting.
Traditional Adirondack chairs
are painted, but you can choose a
clear outdoor deck finish if you prefer.
Tip: When you're building
more than one chair,
set up an assembly
line and cut the building
time per chair by
Figure A: Adirondack chair
Figure A: Adirondack Chair
Follow these plans to build a classic Adirondack chair. See Additional Information for a printable, enlarged version of Figure A, and for a complete Cutting List and Shopping List
Transfer the grid patterns for accurate curves for the arms and legs
Enlarge the grids directly onto the
board, or make a full-size paper
pattern and then transfer the
to the board.
Once the shape is drawn, follow
the lines with a jigsaw (Photo 1).
Write “pattern” on the first leg and
arm pieces and use them to make
the others. If you're making more
than one chair, now's the time to
trace all the arm and leg pieces for
each chair. Note: The left arms and
legs are mirror images of the right.
Also, trim the small cutout piece of
each arm (C) to make the arm support
(K) for each side.
Cut the tapered back pieces with a circular saw
The two tapered back pieces are
tricky to cut, and the safest way to
do it is to cut them from a wider
board. Draw the tapers shown in
Fig. A onto a 1x6 cut to length. Nail
each end of the board to the tops of
a sawhorse, placing the nails where
they'll be out of the saw's path. Use
a No. 4 finish nail on each end and
hammer it in flush with the surface.
Set the depth of your circular saw
1/8 in. deeper than the thickness of
the board, and cut the taper from
the wide end to the narrow end.
Next, draw a straight line on the
remaining part to define the second
piece and cut it. Note: Before you
begin assembly, sand all the pieces
and ease the edges with 100-grit
Assemble the back first
Lay the back pieces face down on
your workbench (Photo 2). Line up the bottoms and insert 1/4-in.
spacers between the slats. Cut your
1/4-in. spacers from scrap boards or
scrap 1/4-in. plywood. Screw each
of the horizontal back supports G, L
and N to the slats with 1-1/4 in.
exterior deck screws. Predrill and
countersink each screw hole.
You'll need to cut a bevel on the
topside of the center horizontal
back support (L). A table saw works
best, but you could use the same
circular saw method you used
earlier to cut the tapered side back
slats (H). Just set the bevel on your
circular saw to 33 degrees, nail the
1x6 board to the sawhorses, mark
the width and make the cut.
Check the back slats and horizontal
supports with a framing square
to make sure they're positioned 90
degrees to each other as you glue
and screw the assembly (Photo 2).
Once the back is fastened, turn
the back assembly over, mark the
top radius and trim it with a jigsaw
Back to Top
Screw the chair frame together on a flat, level surface
Using your jigsaw, cut the notches
on parts E as shown in Fig. A. Glue
and screw the front seat support (D)
to the front legs (Photo 4). Next set
the front assembly vertically on
your workbench and glue and screw
the back legs B to the front legs
(Photo 5). Again, drill
pilot and countersink
holes for each screw. Next
glue and screw the arm supports to
the outer sides of the front legs (E).
Position the arms on the tops of
the front legs and the arm supports
(K). Make sure the arms hang
3 in. over the front leg and 1/4 in.
over the inside edge of each leg.
Before you fasten the arms, make
parallel (Photo 6).
Screw the back leg support (M) to
each leg (see Fig. A) and then set the
back assembly into the frame and
clamp it in place (Photo 7). Make
sure the back of each arm projects
3/4 in. past the center back support
(L). Glue and predrill each joint,
screw the assembly together and then
remove the clamps.
To finish the assembly, predrill
and countersink holes in the ends
of the seat slats. Position them
approximately 1/4 in. apart and
screw them to the back legs as
shown. You may need a hand screwdriver
in tight places.
We used an exterior, oil-based primer and an enamel topcoat, but you could
use water-based products instead.
You'll need three paint brushes: a 2-in. wide, natural-bristle sash brush; a 1-in.
wide sash brush; and a 1/2-in. wide hobby paint brush.
You'll also need one 3-in. wide paint roller, two disposable roller heads and
one disposable paint tray.
Applying the primer
Start with the chair upside down on your workbench. Use the 1-in. wide paint
brush for the edges of the seat slats, making long brush strokes to spread the
primer. Do the remainder of these edges from the topside later. Now use the
roller to apply the primer to the flat surfaces. Use the 2-in. wide brush to
“feather out” the rolled-on paint.
Continue priming the back of the seat back, then the front, and finally the
top of the arms and the seat. When the chair is upright, use the small hobby
brush to apply the primer to the large, flat surfaces way down in between the
slats. Let the primer dry overnight.
Applying the topcoat
Use a paint scraper to remove any runs, then lightly sand the dry primer with
120-grit sandpaper. Apply the topcoat in a shaded area, using the same
sequence as you did with the primer.
Note: The paint gets sticky fast. Pour only
small amounts of paint into the paint tray.
Let the paint dry for at least three days before using the chair.