I’ve been a snowboarder for years and have always loved spending days or weekends at the mountains. I’m also an engineer and have a head for design and building things which has always been a hobby and passion of mine. While riding the lift on a ski trip this past winter I spotted a couple Adirondack chairs made out of skis on one of the decks of a condo next to the chair lift. Later that night I was online looking up pictures and designs of Adirondack chairs and started thinking about how I could make one for myself. I began searching for skis and planning out the design the day I got back from the ski trip.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
There really aren’t any big expensive tools needed for this, the basic handheld power tools and a little creative ingenuity are all you’ll need. Total cost of this project will vary depending on the skis you find; but the wood, screws, nuts and bolts, should only cost about $40 if you use pressure treated lumber like I did for a long lasting outdoor chair. You could also use other woods depending on where these will be used (indoor vs. outdoor). Teak is one that came up a lot in my research for outdoor wood, I just wasn’t sure where to get this and it is much more expensive than regular lumber or pressure treated boards at your local hardware store.
Here’s the tools I used. I may have missed some, but get creative if you find you need something not on this list:
Handheld Jig Saw
Impact Driver (optional, can use screwdrivers instead)
Sanding Block & Sand Paper
Exterior Grade Screws
Lots of clamps (c-clamps, bar-clamps, spring clamps, etc.)
(3) pairs of downhill skis
(3) 1” x 6” x 8’ board
(1) 1” x 4” x 8’ board
(1) 1” x 2” x 8’ board
Step 2: Design
For me, this step took the longest. Going into this project, I'd never made a chair like this and decided I would much rather put the time in to design it myself rather than pay for plans. I used CAD to mock up the chair and figure out how much materials I would need to buy. I went through a few different iterations of the design before I settled on what I wanted the chair to look like.
I used CAD for the main idea for this project, but I sketched some parts out on paper or drew directly onto the wood then cut them out. If you don’t have access to CAD you could just as easily draw out your chair on any number of free drawing/sketch-up programs available online or even design it all by hand with pencil and paper. I printed the design full scale to use as a "soft" templates for the parts. The paper could be traced directly onto the wood then cut to size.
I am not going to post the actual design files for this; but there are images of the design attached which may help you with yours. This was the hardest work and longest part of the project for me, but this was by far the most rewarding part; which is why I’m encouraging you to design/draw your own. If you’re thinking about making one; look at my design but tweak it, make it your own, this is what makes building things fun for me. I’d be happy to answer any questions on this design.
The following are the pieces that will need for this chair; part names/letters can be seen in the one picture of the assembled chair:
A-(2) Back legs
B-(2) Front legs
C-(2) Chair back strong arms (top, bottom; skis are screwed into these for chair back)
D-(1) Chair leg strong arms (back; provides structural rigidity to back legs)
F-(2) Arm to front leg brace (these give more structural support to the front arms)
G-(3) Seat pieces
Step 3: Ski Prep
I made my chairs with 3 pairs of skis; however, I have seen designs with 4 pairs, 5 pairs, even more. Get creative with how and where you use them; they’re stronger than you think. I bought the skis used at local thrift stores and online for about $10-$20 per pair.
To prep the skis you must first remove the bindings. I know nothing about skis (I’m a snowboarder) so for me this involved lots of screwdrivers, large hammers, and a prybar. Be careful not to break any skis.
Next, I used a Gummy stone and a metal file to take off the rust from the edges. This probably isn’t necessary since the chair will be outside once it is finished. I didn’t realize this until after I finished this step…
Next; de-tuned those edges. As a snowboarder or skier this will go against everything you believe in when it comes to caring for your equipment. Take a metal file and shave down the sharp edge that you would normally love for riding until you can run your hands up and down the edge without any burrs or sharp areas. This will make it a bit safer for anyone who sits in the chair or who might brush up against it.
The skis should be cleaned to remove any dirt/grime, loose rust, or metal shavings that might be left on them. Any ordinary kitchen cleaning chemical should work for this. If you’re a skier/snowboarder, the same chemical you would use to clean the base before a fresh hot wax is what you want to use. I used Goo Gone.
Done. Skis are prepped and ready to be cut according to your design.
Step 4: Cut Skis
The skis will need to be cut twice, once for the seat piece and once for the chair back. My seat is 21” wide and my back pieces range from 38” to 45”. Skis are sold by length in centimeters (cm). When looking for skis to buy, the minimum size you’ll need to build the 21” seat and 38” back piece 150cm, but this length would vary based on your design. Measure twice, cut once. I used tape to mark lines, and a clamped piece of wood to help start a straight cut, then made the cuts with a 12” hacksaw.
Step 5: Cut Wood
Size and shape of the wood pieces will vary with your design. As mentioned before, my design came partially from my CAD drawings which were printed to a full scale "soft" template, and partially from sketching directly onto the wood. I cut the wood with a jig saw and quickly learned that I’m terrible at cutting on the lines. I ended up favoring the outside of my pencil lines and sanding to a final size with a belt sander. To sand the pieces I used an old jig that I created to hold a 3” belt sander vertical, at a 90-degree angle, to get the sides cut at right angles. I also used a one inch belt sander for some of the smaller lines needing sanding. Once cut and sanded to final size, I used a sanding block and some medium to coarse grit (80-120 grit depending on what I had around the house) sand paper to knock off the sharp corners to avoid any potential for slivers while sitting in the chair.
Step 6: Assemble the Chair
This is the fun part. Look at your design. Take drill, drill holes. Take impact driver, screw together. Just be careful not to split the wood when screwing it together or you will need to re-cut/sand a new piece.
By this point you should have everything cut and should have a great idea of what every piece is and where it goes, after all this should be your own design by this point.
I used 2” exterior grade screws to hold the bulk of the wood and the skis together and (3) 5/16” x 2.5” hex head bolts with washers and nuts to hold the front legs on. Three bolts is probably a little overkill, but it works and they were cheap.
Start by squaring up the back legs with some of the crossbar/brace pieces. This will help to keep the legs in shape as you add skis since the skis tend to have camber built into them which could pull the back legs out of shape a little if they are not braced. After that the order of assembly doesn’t matter much.
Step 7: Enjoy!
Sit back and enjoy in your new chair. Drink a cold beverage, have a bonfire, do whatever it is that you do.
These chairs are kind of large but are relatively lightweight and easy to move around.