Introduction: Adirondack Chair

Picture of Adirondack Chair
For more on Adirondack Chairs, see our original story.

Our version of the Adirondack chair has come a long way from the early types that had flat backs and seats-and, we've added a matching table. Don't be intimidated by the curved slats and number of pieces in this project. Although there are a few angles and curves to cut, there's actually no fancy joinery --everything's held together with deck screws. We used cedar for these pieces because it stands up well to the elements, and it's available in the required 3/4- and 1-in. thicknesses. You could substitute pine if you plan to keep the chairs out of the weather.

Step 1: Plans and Materials

Picture of Plans and Materials

A. 2 1 x 5 1/4 x 33 3/4" cedar side rail
B. 1 1 x 4 1/4 x 23 1/4" cedar top back rail
C. 1 1 x 3 1/2 x 23 1/4" cedar bottom back rail
D. 9 3/4 x 2 1/4 x 23 1/4" cedar seat slat
E. 7 3/4 x 3 1/4 x 35 1/2" cedar back slat
F. 2 1 x 4 1/4 x 20 1/2 cedar front leg
G. 2 1 x 2 1/2 x 29" cedar back leg
H. 2 1 x 2 3/4 x 6 1/2" cedar arm bracket
I. 2 1 x 5 1/4 x 28" cedar arm
J. 2 1 x 5 1/4 x 16" cedar foot
K. 2 1 x 1 1/2 x 19 1/4" cedar cleat
L. 2 1 x 5 x 16 1/2" cedar leg
M. 2 3/4 x 5 x 17 1/2" cedar stretcher
N. 5 1 x 3 3/4 x 24" cedar slat
O. as required 1 5/8" No. 8 fh deck screw
P. as required 2" No. 8 fh deck screw

Step 2: Making the Seat

Picture of Making the Seat

Lay out the side-rail shape on your stock, cut to the lines with a jigsaw and sand the edges smooth. Then, cut the back rails to size, and saw the curves that give the chair back its concave shape. Note that the cut on the top rail is square, while the bottom rail has a 7-degree bevel.

Cut the seat slats to size and round the upper edges of each with a 1/4-in. quarter-round bit in a router table. Then, round the exposed edges-those that won't abut other parts-of the side and back rails. Keep the router table set up for this job so you can round the edges of the other parts as they're made.

Because of the shape of the seat, most of the slats require bevels on one or both edges. Use a table saw or hand plane to cut the bevels.

Step 3: Assemble the Seat

Picture of Assemble the Seat

Start seat assembly by screwing the lower back rail to the seat sides with one screw at each end of the rail. Then, add slat No. 4 as indicated in the drawing, again using only one screw at each end. Measure opposite diagonals of the subassembly and adjust it until it's square. When you're satisfied, add a second screw to each end of the two slats to lock the pieces in position.

Step 4: Arrange Slats

Picture of Arrange Slats

Use a 1-in.-thick block as a spacer to position the rear seat slat. Then install the remaining slats. Because the seat is curved and many of the slat edges are angled, don't try to measure these spaces. Instead, simply arrange the slats by eye so that they appear uniform.

Step 5: Attach Legs

Picture of Attach Legs

Cut the front legs to size and round the long edges on the router table. Mark a line on the inside face of each leg that indicates the bottom edge of the side rail. Then, attach the legs to the seat assembly with screws driven from the inside of the side rails.

Step 6: Add the Back

Picture of Add the Back

The back slats are tapered to create a fan shape when installed. Cut each 35 1/2-in.-long slat blank so one end is 3 1/4 in. wide and the other is 2 1/4 in. wide. We did this on a band saw, but a jigsaw will work, too. Smooth the sawn surfaces, cut the curved top ends and round the edges.

Cut the rear legs to size, angling the top ends at 64 degrees. Clamp each rear leg to a side rail, bore and countersink screw pilot holes, and secure the legs with screws.

Step 7: Attach Back Rail

Picture of Attach Back Rail

Screw the top back rail to the top ends of the back legs, and lay the chair on its back to install the back slats.

Step 8: Align Slats

Picture of Align Slats

Place a 4-in. block under the upper back rail to provide clearance for the long back slats. Mark the centers of the top and bottom back rails, align the center back slat with these marks and screw it in place. (Note: no laser beams were used in this assembly --the original picture is damaged.)

Step 9: Secure Slats

Picture of Secure Slats

Install the outer two slats. Secure the remaining slats so the top curved ends are aligned and the spaces are uniform. Since the back slats are the focal point of the chair, any gap too large or too small, will immediately draw your eye, so uniformity here is very important.

Step 10: Install the Arms

Picture of Install the Arms

Cut out the arms and arm supports, and round the edges. Temporarily clamp the supports in place and secure them with screws.

Step 11: Attach Arms

Picture of Attach Arms

Attach the arms to the front and rear legs with screws.

Step 12: Make the Table

Picture of Make the Table

The table is built the same way as the chair-all exposed edges are rounded on the router table and the parts are simply screwed together. Lay out the feet on 1-in. stock and cut to the lines with a jigsaw, then cut the remaining rectangular pieces to size. Attach each foot with three screws.

Step 13: Attach Stretchers

Picture of Attach Stretchers

Bore pilot holes and screw the two stretchers to the legs.

Step 14: Space Slats

Picture of Space Slats

To assemble the top, it's easiest to first clamp the pieces together with 3/8-in.-thick spacers placed between the top slats. Then, attach the cleats-use the base sub-assembly to make sure they're spaced properly.

Step 15: Attach Cleats to Base, Finish

Picture of Attach Cleats to Base, Finish

Finally, screw the base to the top cleats.

Lightly sand the chair and table with 120-grit paper. Keep in mind, though, that cedar is a soft, oily wood that doesn't sand as well as pine or hardwood. You won't achieve the silky smooth surface that you'd expect on indoor furniture.

We finished our pieces with Sikkens Cetol 1, 077 Cedar. First, wipe all the sanding dust from the wood, then apply a coat of finish with a natural-bristle brush. Allow each coat to dry for 24 hours before applying the next. Three coats should provide adequate protection from the elements.


AdiG12 (author)2017-06-04

Well... I kind of made one as well. It IS my 1st ever so it did not come out as good as I aimed it to be, but I do grade it "acceptable" anyway. It is, after all, only 2 inches tall.

Ndrwfix (author)2017-02-19

Great weekend project

T0BY (author)2016-11-28


mbrumley (author)2016-01-13

Sorry to be such a noob. In the plans, when the thickness is 1" does that mean really 1" or the finished .875" I find at big box stores. The same is true for the 3/4" boards. Do I use the 3/4" boards which are actually .625" finished? It seems like I would have to plane boards to end up with the literal 1" and 3/4" thicknesses. Any advice?

JimTheSoundman (author)mbrumley2016-09-12

Yes, the sizes are the nominal sizes, what we nowadays would refer to as "rough lumber." Long ago the lumber mills offered finished lumber as an option and most people ended up buying it that way, but to avoid confusion, the lumbermills kept the same "rough cut" name.
So almost all lumber nowadays is sold S4S, which means "surfaced four sides" which is why a 2 x 4 is only 1.5 x 3.5.

monkeyknuckle (author)mbrumley2016-02-07

Yes, it's confusing, but you're correct.

MicahD1 made it! (author)2016-09-04

some slight changes but great guide, Thank you!

monkeyknuckle (author)2016-02-07

Here's a link to the plans in PDF format.

SmeaguldR (author)monkeyknuckle2016-05-26

Great. Thank you

MaxwellC7 (author)monkeyknuckle2016-03-27


tinkertoes201 (author)2016-05-21

has anyone tried this with polywood? If so, what thickness did you use?

jackfunkhouser made it! (author)2015-03-15

This was a fun build. It took me about 7 2x6x8 cedar deck planks.

Tavern68 (author)jackfunkhouser2016-03-31

Great work, was the 7ea 2X6X8 for one or two chairs? Thanks.

jackfunkhouser (author)Tavern682016-03-31

Actually, now I use 1x6x12s(deck planks, 2x6 is wrong) and roughly it takes about seven for two chairs . There is less waste. Plus I adjusted the back slats so I end up with two pieces instead of just one. I use this simple jig to cut the diagonals. I have made seven chairs now. I made pattern so they are easy to replicate.


jackfunkhouser made it! (author)2015-10-29

I am up to five chairs now. One of these time I need to make some for me.

Janschutz (author)jackfunkhouser2015-11-19

Nice job!

glennonrp (author)2015-10-04

I googled for the PDF of the plans with measurements it's still on the web

asaychek made it! (author)2015-07-27

fun project made for a 4H woodworking project made out of cedar and used a red stain

KLBurbage (author)2015-07-03

Thsi might be a fun project if the instrucitons weren't blurred

If you go to the Popular Mechanics website, you download the plans and they are quite nice.

russaw (author)2015-07-03

Nice and easy project, just looking for garden chair ideas.

Tabla666 (author)2015-04-09

Can anyone provide with a link to the plans in .pdf format suitable for printing and template use? Really want to make these chairs!! Thanks!

hans62 (author)Tabla6662015-05-10

Hi Tabla. I just took measurements from the PDF in the internet. For me (home use) it was enough precise.

hans62 (author)2015-05-10

Made another one with spruce wood. And replaced the chair back of the first one.

hans62 made it! (author)2015-04-06

I did it with scrap wood during eastern break

SeanGilmour (author)2015-04-05

hi, I bought extra wood as I am building multiple sets. A rough guess for 2 chairs and a table 150-200 cdn. I used higher end screws and had a lot of waste cutting the back slates, due to poor sized and available lumber. I definitely could build them cheaper with better lumber supplier. When I first looked at the project I used Home Depot online to get a rough price and think it was about $60 per chair

sgilmour1 (author)2015-03-29

My first build, great instructions I'm very happy with the project.

lttlfunk (author)sgilmour12015-04-04

Roughly, what did it cost you in materials?

bulldawg13 (author)2014-12-05

How much wood do I need tobuy

dadonk (author)2014-08-22

This will be my first wood working project and I have a quick question. How do I figure out how much wood to buy from these plans?

cmad1764 (author)2014-07-06

good lookin chair

goebelguzzler (author)2009-06-10

Done with White Oak b/c I did not want to pay so much for Cedar. Made this decision with the help from the person working at the lumber yard. Had to go with 7/8 inch for the 1 inchers b/c the 1 inchers had to be plained. 2 coats of Spar Urethane. They're heavy, but I don't plan on using them like regular lawn chairs and I doubt if teenagers will be running down the street with them. Person at the lumber yard said 'The wind won't knock these over'. How do they look? My first, trial chair I did was with Pine from Home Depot and the wood cost me the same as the White Oak from the lumber yard. Goebelguzzler

shawninsicily (author)2008-12-26

This would be an awesome instructable if you could clear up this step. It's also illegible in the PDF. Thanks

sjcronchi (author)shawninsicily2009-03-04

see the next website:<br/><a rel="nofollow" href=""></a><br/>

evy-wevy (author)2007-03-31

Here in CANADA we call the Muskoka chairs....There is one in my backyard _

blodefood (author)evy-wevy2008-04-09

I understood that this type of chair was called a Muskoka chair, too! In fact, the world's largest Muskoka chair is in Gravenhurst in the area of Ontario known as, well... Muskoka.

Here is a site with some authoritative information about the differences.
Woodmill is a company that makes this type of chair.

1. Origin to the Muskokas
2. Seat lower to ground, comfort fit
3. 19" span between arms
4. Longer seat front to back

1. Origin to the American Adirondack Mountains
2. Seat higher off ground
3. 21-1/2" span between arms
4. 1-1/2" legs

And, there you have it.

evy-wevy (author)blodefood2008-04-09

HA HA! I've been to the chair in Gravenhurst. Climbed up, and took a photo :P

grapeshot (author)2008-03-29

Heh. My Dad made a couple of these chairs way back in the early 60's. He used to subscribe to Popular Mechanics, too, so I bet that's how he got the plans to make them. The chairs he made are still in use, and still sitting outdoors, as they have for the past 40+ years. I think he used California redwood. The chairs have never been treated or stained, and they have a very soft, grey, weathered look to them. Next time I visit my parents, I will try to remember to take a picture and post it here.

flairchairs (author)2007-10-19

Very nice furniture! I have something that may be of interest, these chairs are for those that don't fit the norm.

gabemejia (author)2007-07-30

If you guys want to view the plans, you have to follow the link below, and in the "download printable plans" make sure to right click/save as. The *.pdf file should pop right up. I hope this helps you too.

tzepeda1 (author)2007-04-17

Those are some really nice chairs! I would like to make some but when I print the plans, they come out too small and when I enlarge it, I can't read the measurements! Can anyone help?

You can also get a pdf of the plans here.

Is there any way to get a copy of the plans? Seems nobody has had any luck with getting a good copy. Thanks, tzepeda1

Here is a pdf of the plans, not just the 3D picture.

Sorry to take so long. You can still make the adirondack set in time to set it all up for summer!

I found the mistake in you link - you have:
instead of:

However, this pdf is only 3d picture and it doesn't help a lot with the invisible sizes... The plans with the measurements are not readable and are needed for this project.

The link for the PDF leads nowhere. The project looks nice, but the sizes and angles are invisible. That PDF will help a lot... Please, post a correct link.

Pike (author)tzepeda12007-05-10

A person can also find many similar items to make in the "Foxfire" series of books ( which pertain to the old handmade trades from Georgia homesteaders.

static (author)tzepeda12007-04-19

If you are printing out the largest jpg available, and still can't read them, you may be forced to use some admittinly poor crutches, unless someon directs us to better plans. Windows includes a screen magnifier, but I like the one you can download from better. They *may* help you read the diminsions as while displayed on your monitor so you can transcribe them to paper. Good luck..

trebuchet03 (author)2007-03-30

Beautiful Work If I ever make one... it needs to have the necessary built in cup holder :) Too bad I have no room for one :P

About This Instructable



Bio: The official instructable for Popular Mechanics magazine, reporting on the DIY world since 1902.
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