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Nothing says summertime like a wooden Adirondack chair!

These classic outdoor chairs are comfy and perfect for resting in after a long day, or for getting up early and watching the sun rise while sipping your favorite hot beverage.

There are about a million variations on the Adirondack chair, and an equal number of plans around on the internet. Rather than look too closely into other peoples' plans, I decided come up with my own design with its own special twist.

I wanted to see if I could make a classic-looking Adirondack chair out of a single 10-foot, 2 by 8 redwood board with as little waste as possible.

After a little head scratching, I came up with a plan and made a prototype. The first attempt was decent, but it had a few kinks which I worked out in the second attempt, which is what I'm showing here.

If you want to make one like this, I've tried to provide every bit of detail you need make that happen. If you have any questions, please ask. Thanks for taking a look!

Step 1: Materials, tools, safety

I wouldn't go so far as to call this an "easy" project, but it is quite do-able if you have access to some basic woodworking tools.

For this project, you need to start off with a decent board. Look for a flat redwood board with consistent grain and very few knots (if any). I got my boards in the decking section of a large orange-themed home improvement store.

You can use any kind of wood of course, but redwood is advantageous for outdoor projects because it is naturally bug- and rot-resistant, much like cedar. Depending on where you live though, you may need to adapt this design and pattern to work with whatever materials are available to you.

You will need waterproof outdoor glue as well as exterior grade screws. I used 1 5/8" deck screws I had left over from building a fence, and they worked perfectly.

At minimum, you will need access to a band saw with at least 8" vertical capacity, a table saw, drill and driver.

If you even remotely dabble in woodworking, I highly recommend tapered countersinking drill bits. When assembling anything out of wood, these bits perform three functions at once: drill a pilot hole into the first board (where the screw should slip easily through without biting into the wood), countersink the first board for the head of the screw, and then drill a smaller hole into the second board (where the screw should bite into the wood and suck the two boards together like a clamp). They are completely adjustable and incredibly useful. I put them right up there with my band saw as favorite tools in my shop.

This is the set I have. They are pricey, but worth the investment. This DeWalt set is much cheaper, but still decent.

Regarding safety, you obviously know how the internet works by now, because well... here you are. Google things you want to learn about. Read up, watch videos. If you are using power tools, especially tools like band saws and table saws and are just ignorantly "winging it," you are going to lose digits and limbs. Plus you're going to make a real mess of your shop.

I've seen dried blood/bone/flesh muck intentionally left on walls of a cabinet shop as a reminder to pay attention and take proper safety precautions. I'll tell you, it was a disturbing yet effective approach to encouraging shop safety!

"What? Oh, that crud on the wall? Yeah, that's Ted's right hand."

Nice.

So, be safe my internet friends.

Step 2: Here's what we're after

Here are all of the finished pieces we are going to squeeze out of this 10-foot 2x8 board.

While the linear dimension is indeed 10 feet (120 inches) the actual thickness and width of a "2x8" are 1 1/2" and 7 1/4".

I began by making the cuts shown in the diagram using a cross-cut sled on my table saw. I recommend cutting the three 20-inch sections first, followed by the 33-inch section. It's crucial that these four initial pieces are cut precisely. The remaining piece will be approximately 27 inches, and will be fine if it ends up being a little less (it doesn't need to be as precise as the other pieces, which is why it is cut last).

To avoid any confusion, I should point out that the order of pieces in the photos is slightly different than the order shown in the diagram. (The 27- and 33-inch pieces are reversed in the photos.)

Step 3: Seat bottom and seat back slats

Begin with one of the 20-inch sections, and the 27-inch section. The 20-incher will become 10 of 14 seat bottom slats, and the 27-incher will become all 10 of the seat back slats.

Using a thin-kerf blade on my table saw, I began by ripping a blade-thickness cut off of one edge of each board. This gives a nice flat surface to put against the fence for the first cut, and allows all cut pieces to be square all around and not show the round, milled edges typical on this type of lumber. (I actually did this for every board throughout the project. All outside rounded edges were removed and squared up.)

I set my fence to 5/8" and ripped each of these boards into 10 pieces. The 10th piece of each board had to be flipped over and trimmed to match the remaining nine.

Step 4: Front legs and cross braces

From the second 20-inch board, rip two pieces 2 1/4" wide. These will become the chair's front (vertical) legs.

The remaining piece of this board is ripped into two halves, approximately 1 1/8" each. These will become cross braces, which are covered in the next step.

The front leg pieces have a section removed as detailed in photos 2 - 4. This angled notch area allows the legs to support the weight of the chair on actual wood (rather than just hanging on screws), and makes accurately attaching the front legs to the slanted seat-leg pieces much easier.

Make sure you create two mirror-image cut-outs on these pieces. They need to be opposite angles as shown in the last photo.

With this plan there is very little room for major errors if you want to complete the chair using a single board. (On my prototype, I had to glue a couple of pieces back together and re-cut them correctly!)

Step 5: Cross braces, continued

Take one of the 1 1/8" pieces from the last step and rip a 17 degree angle along the length of one of the narrower sides (in the position shown in photo 1, this piece should be 1 1/2" wide and 1 1/8" tall).

Notch the ends of this piece as indicated in the photos to a depth of 3/4".

Square the edges of the remaining piece if needed, and it is ready to use as is. These are your upper and lower cross braces.

Step 6: Armrests and additional seat bottom slats

Using a band saw, rip the remaining 20-inch board in half edge-to-edge, vertically.

Work slowly and use a scrap piece of wood to push it through the blade and finish the cut. If you push a board like this through a band saw with your fingers, just make sure you've done everything you ever wanted to do with them first. (They generally do not grow back.)

Now, optionally you may want to first run a face and an edge of the board through a jointer if you have access to one, so you have a flat, square edge to put down on the band saw table face. I don't have a jointer, so I just drew a line down the middle of one edge and ran it through the band saw. It wasn't perfect, but good enough.

Cut one of the halves into armrests and support braces as shown. Round corners if desired using band saw.

The second half of the board is ripped into 1 1/2" strips to be used as the remaining seat bottom slats. These were carefully trimmed on the table saw to be precisely 5/8" thick, to match the 10 seat bottom slats cut earlier.

You may notice that the grain orientation of these slats doesn't match that of the other 10. If you look back at the main photos again you'll easily pick out these additional slats on the seat bottom, as they don't show any of the red heartwood that ran through the top half of the board I used.

After ripping the board in half for this step, I had to choose which half to use as the armrests: colorful heartwood, or plain white grain? I went with the colorful half, as the armrests are a prominent feature on the chair. The seat slats all kind of blend together, and disappear into the overall look of the chair.

I think half the fun with using distinct wood like this is orienting the grain patterns and colors to be balanced and pleasing to the eye.

Step 7: Slanted seat-legs

The rear legs, side rails, or "seat-legs" as I'm going to call them, are made from the 33-inch board.

Rip this board in half and trim off the outer edges of each board to create two 3 1/2" wide boards.

On the front upper corner of each piece, trim flat faces as shown in photo 2. This will be the front rounded edge of the seat.

On the back lower corner of each piece trim an angle as indicated in photo 3.

The un-notched lower cross brace from steps 4 and 5 will be fastened into a cut-out in each of these seat-legs. Measure and make a mark 12 inches up from the back edge of each board. Trace the end of the cross brace at this mark, with the narrower side facing back and wider side facing down.

Cut out the marked area to fit the cross brace.

I used a cross-cut sled on my table saw to nibble this area away, pass by pass. This may not be the quickest way to do it, but this method left me with a very precise, square cut-out. Alternately, you could use a band saw, or even a hand saw and a chisel to cut out this area.

Step 8: Assemble leg structure

From this point on, I'm going to say the phrase "glue and screw" a lot.

What that means is, spread a thin layer of glue on all mating surfaces, push them together firmly and position with clamps if needed, pre-drill and countersink holes, drive screws into place, and wipe up excess glue with a wet rag.

Assemble each front leg/seat-leg section as shown in photo 1. The front leg is placed with its front face precisely seven inches back from the front edge of the slanted seat-leg board. Glue and screw the front legs in place.

It will help if you put a long, straight board along the bottom edge of these pieces to simulate the ground, and use a framing square against it to insure that the front leg is fastened perpendicularly to the "ground." (A framing square is not necessary; you could just eyeball it. But a "ground" board will make it much easier to get it right either way.)

The measurements given for cutting out the notched area on these front legs should get you pretty darn close, but you may still have to tweak it a little to get it just right before you fasten the screws. Use clamps if needed to hold the front legs in place while you pre-drill the holes for the screws.

Glue and screw the un-notched, lower cross brace into the cut-outs in the seat-legs.

Pick one of the seat bottom slats, and glue and screw it to the bottom front edge of the seat.

Step 9: Add armrest braces

The small wedge-shaped armrest braces are added to the top, outside faces of the front legs with glue and screws. They can be centered on the face or flush with the front edge; either way would look nice in my opinion.

Just make sure the top is flush with the top of the leg piece, and not angled away (flip it around if it is).

Step 10: Add two seat back slats

The next two steps of assembly need to be done together.

The best way I found to put together the armrests/upper cross brace/seat back slats, was to start by adding two seat back slats as shown here.

However, before you do, you will want to lay out the seat back slats and arrange them into a pattern that you think looks good. Then take the two outer slats and attach them as shown with glue and screws, making sure the bottom edges are flush with the bottom edge of the cross brace, and the sides are flush with the sides of the seat-legs.

These two slats should angle out just a bit as they go up. Before the glue sets on these slats, be sure to complete the following step.

Step 11: Add upper cross brace and armrests

Use clamps to temporarily hold the upper cross brace to the slats added in the last step. Just eyeball its placement at this point to be close to level with the tops of the front legs.

The notches face up with angles pointing outward toward the front legs, and the beveled side should be against the slats. Place the armrests atop the front legs and onto the notches in the brace. Adjust brace up or down as needed until the armrests are level, and the inside the edges of notches are flush with outside edges of the slats. Mark position of brace onto back of slats with a pencil.

Remove clamps and brace, and reassemble with glue and screws driven through the front face of the slats. The slats and brace may still pivot slightly side to side. Adjust this structure into an even, upright position, and let the glue cure to lock all the pieces in position.

The armrests can now be added with glue and screws. See photo notes for details and positioning.

Step 12: Add seat back slats

The remaining seat back slats can now be added.

I have a box of laminate samples I use for shimming things, and occasionally for figuring out spacing on projects like this. The method explained in the photo 3 note works great to help get the spacing as accurate and precise as possible. You could also just use some scrap wood bits to help with spacing, or just eyeball it.

Place each slat with glue onto both braces, but only screw them to the bottom brace first. Once all slats are screwed to bottom brace, adjust them until the spacing along the top looks even and then add screws through the slats into the upper brace to lock them in place.

Step 13: Add bottom seat slats

Lay out the bottom slats and arrange to your liking.

Glue and screw these in place, working from front to back, shimming and spacing as you go. The two slats on the curved front edge of the seat should fit tightly together along their bottom edges.

I fit 13 of my 14 seat slats along the seat-legs. I was going to add the 14th just behind the seat back slats for looks, but decided to leave it off.

Step 14: Finishing

I finished assembling these chairs and set them outside with no intention of finishing them with any sealant or waterproofer. I figured I'd just let them weather naturally and turn silvery-grey over time.

But after a couple of days out in the hot sun, the contrasting colors between the red heartwood and the whitish sapwood started getting darker and began to really pop.

I liked the coloring so much I decided to lock it in. I brushed on a single coat of clear Waterseal from Thompson's. Ultimately, I think sealing them was a much better decision but I did like the natural look quite a bit.

This was a fun, useful project. If you decide to use these plans to make a couple of Adirondack chairs for yourself, be sure to post a photo in the comments.

Thanks again for taking a look!

<p>Worked perfect. 13 dollar adirondack. Thanks!!!</p>
<p>How'd you manage $13?</p>
<p>ah.. you made me look. What a joke!...i bought &quot;Redwood tone treated lumber&quot; $13.77...whose ever heard of such a thing?. I'm a fool and HD are A-holes(they labeled it RWD-TN). I couldn't figure our why it was so heavy....i figured it was because it was soaking wet. I couldn't counter sink either...the holes would just close right up...lol. Either way... it works great in my garden. </p><p>thats why i usually stick with cedar :)</p>
Had to do a little modifications for what I had, but Turned out great! Thanks for the great design!
<p>Sam,</p><p> I modified the middle rear brace to span 24&quot; and I just put a 17 degree bevel on one side.</p><p> I also added a 5/8&quot; x 1-1/2 x 21-7/16&quot; upper brace across the top of the back slats to keep them all straight and to provide additional rigidity. I goofed when I realized that I ripped a 33&quot; leg lengthwise to make 2 instead of using 2 full sized 33&quot; long pieces.</p>
<p>Hi Sam!</p><p> With regards to making the remaining 4 seat slats from the 3rd 20&quot; x 8&quot; piece, and using a bandsaw to cut that piece in half vertically, I used a jointer tosquare up the factory rounded edges, then I cut the 4 remaining seat slats from the 20&quot; piece at 5/8&quot; wide. This brings the 8&quot; high piece down to about 5&quot;. 5/8 x 4 =2.5&quot; Add about 3/8&quot; to that and that's 2-7/8&quot;. Set your fence on the table saw to 5/8&quot; wide and bring the blade all the way up. Rip the remaining board lengthwise, then flip it over, keeping the same side towards the saw fence. Repeat the same process for the 2nd half, and you'll have 2 flat armrests that are 5/8&quot; thick.</p><p> I bought an additional 2x4 to make the back supports a little thicker, and to put a slight curve in the chair back. I'll post photos once I get the pieces laid out and cut.</p><p> I'll also be adding to this and making a loveseat version of this plan.</p><p> This is a fantastic plan that you have! Keep up the great work!</p>
<p>Thank you!</p><p>And thank you for sharing this great comment and the details of your chair. Got a photo? It would be great to see how yours turned out :)</p>
nice and comfortable..
<p>Very nice work! They look like they turned out very well. Glad you found my instructable and were able to make a pair of these.</p><p>Thanks for the photo! :)</p>
<p>Great project! Voted and added to Favorites. Would love to have a PDF if possible</p>
do you have downloadable plans for this?
<p>Nope, sorry. </p><p>This instructable is it, but you can download the entire instructable as a PDF if you're a pro member. </p><p>I'll shoot one of my spare pro codes to your PM box so you can upgrade for free for a few months ;)</p>
Tnx for the promo code. Where do I go to download it? Sorry for the noob questions. But I don't know this app very well yet.
<p>It looks like your account is on pro status now. </p><p>I'm not too familiar with the app, but if you log in from a computer, I know you should be able to download instructables in PDF form. From a computer (at least), the download button is on the top right of any project, just below the title.</p>
<p>Made it, Made a set of 4 for a friend, thank you for the great plans</p>
<p>Awesome! Thank you for sharing the photo. Glad you found this useful.</p><p>I have to say, be sure to seal them really well. Mine are only just over a year old now, and they need to be sealed again. Other than that, they've held up well.</p>
<p>talk about reducing waste! great way to utilize your materials and with such beautiful results...this is definitely going on my &quot;to build&quot; list!</p>
<p>Thank you! If you do make one, be sure to share a photo here when you get one done! I'd love to see how it turns out. </p>
<p>woah! impressive project, I love it!</p>
<p>Love this chair! If I had the courage, this is what I'd make for the Remix Contest.</p>
<p>every time i see stuff like this it makes me wish i was a carpenter and not a welder altho this would be pretty awesome made of metal it would be very very heavy and of course you cant beat the good old fashion look of wood =] </p><p>amazing job i wish i had a wood shop =p </p>
<p>I would like to see this in metal... You should give it a go, just put casters on it so you can move it about. :)</p>
<p>I just finished making this project as a gift for my wife. She has always wanted one of these types of chairs, and I thought it would make a great inexpensive surprise for her. </p><p>I found the printed pdf a bit confusing, as the pictures didn't line up with the descriptions very well, and I had to really study the descriptions to figure things out. Minor setback. (Suggestion.. use captions more)</p><p>I just realized that I forgot to make the notch cuts on the legs to support the main weight. It's glued and screwed, also has a coat of Thompson Water Seal on as well. Taking those pieces apart to do the cut might seriously damage the chair. However, I did re-enforce from below using wide &quot;L&quot; brackets. If this doesn't work, or becomes loose, I will replace the screws with short carriage bolts, and re-drill to countersink the head and nuts flush to surface of uprights.</p><p>I also used a string and pencil method the mark and cut an arch on the tops of the back pieces. I felt it adds a bit of character.</p><p>Of note, my band saw is only 6&quot;, so I couldn't make the rips to make the arm rests. My table saw blade is also thicker than that of a band saw, so I ended up with more sawdust and fewer slats. Because of this I purchased 1 piece of 8 foot cedar 5/4 x 6 cedar decking. With my table saw I was able to manufacture the remaining 3 or 4 slats required for the seat and to cut the arm rests. I also had enough to re-manufacture the rear support because the different thickness. It worked out great!</p><p>I spent about $30 CDN for the wood and purchased the screws, sandpaper, sealer and brushes extra for future use. Pretty cool project for the price. I thoroughly enjoyed being out in the garage building this project. I'm ready for #2 :D My neighbours want me to build them one too! How cool is that?</p><p>Thanks for posting this, seamster!</p>
<p>You are very welcome! I hope your neighbor pays you well.</p><p>That turned out gorgeous. I like the arched back a lot . . . I think I may go back and do that to the ones I made. It really is a nice touch.</p><p>Nice work-arounds too. I can't imagine those legs giving you too much trouble, especially with a metal bracket down there. The carriage bolts would beef it up to the point of no longer being a worry whatsoever--I think that's what most plans call for in that area anyway.</p><p>About the pdf printout, I'm not familiar with how the site formats the info when it's transferred into pdf form, so I'll have to print this and see what you mean. I'll definitely go back and add more captions if that will help alleviate any confusion. Any specific steps or photos I should take a look at?</p><p>Glad you were able to make one. Thank you the great feedback and for sharing a photo of your finished chair! </p>
<p>I came across some other plans for these chairs, and noticed that there is a cross piece supporting the diagonals attached to the legs. If I notice it getting loose, I could take a 23 1/4&quot; piece and attach or cut a groove into the legs, same as the back supports. It would still look pretty good. I'm thinking the screws and glue should be enough. At least there is a work around other than dismantling the support structure. </p><p>Next time I will also go to Home Depot instead of Home Hardware, because I was unable to chose the piece of wood. I drove into the outdoor lumber yard and they climbed a huge ladder and brought down the piece. It had a fair number of knots, and I was somewhat disappointed. Despite that, it turned out pretty cool.</p><p>I don't have the print with me, so am not able to make specific comments, and cannot foresee following up on that in the foreseeable future.(Sorry) Am starting work on my bunkie, and that will keep me quite occupied for the next few weeks.</p><p>This project has given me some well deserved confidence so I can later persue different projects. Thanks again, seamster for the inspiration.</p>
<p>The pleasure's all mine. I enjoy making stuff, but it adds a whole other level of enjoyment to be able to share it here and then see others get inspired and duplicate my silly little projects. Fun times all around! Great site, this is. </p>
<p>I voted and made it a favorite. This is one of the best instrucables I have ever seen. Clear descriptions, great pictures and logical progression, step by step.</p>
<p>That's very kind, thank you! Glad you liked it.</p>
<p>This is great! I've added this to the summer To Do list while I can commandeer the garage as my shop.</p><p>Sadly, that list seems to get longer by the day :P</p>
Thanks! That's my kind of summer.. spent in the shop with a long to-do list!
<p>Came out pretty snazzy!</p>
<p>Hey, looks good... thanks for the photo!</p>
<p>nice and clean. such a well thought out design...don't ya think? I especially like the arm rest supports.... brilliant.</p>
<p>You do beautiful work, my friend!</p><p>The design idea alone is marvelous, but the execution, SUPERB! And the generosity of sharing them in an extremely well done Instructable is remarkable . . . and greatly appreciated.</p><p>Thank you!</p>
<p>Thank you for the kind words! Glad to share. Hope you get the chance to make some chairs for yourself.</p>
<p>WOW! Beautiful work, and thank you for a crisp, clear instructable.</p>
<p>would be great to see a matching foot rest for these. Love the chairs &amp; will show to hubby &amp; lovingly ask him to make some!</p>
That's a great idea! I've actually got another board that I've been meaning to make into a small table to go with these. Maybe I can squeeze out a couple of footrests to go with it as well. Hmmm.
I'd love to see the foot rest. I've seen them sold in stores with a foot rest that is angled, like the chair, but opposite. it starts high, like the front of the seat &amp; goes downward. And besides, what fun is relaxing in an awesome handmade chair without a place for the awesome hardworking feet that made it possible?
incredible! Kudos for such a creative AND thrifty job. Well done!!
<p>Thank you, thank you!</p>
<p>I made 4 Adirondack chairs about 10-15 years ago, sadly gone now (redwood cedar is not easy to get in Ireland) :( but these are comfortable chairs. I read online so many times as us older folk get older a chair can be pretty hard to get back up out of :( and some have gone to the trouble of making a higher version, Any chance you may do another Instructable on a higher version in the future ? but a big 10 out of 10 for this Instructable ! amazing ! so simple to follow instructions, Thank you for sharing. </p>
<p>You're welcome, and thank you for the compliments! Glad you found it. You're right about older folks having trouble with these chairs. My dad's in his 80s and thought the chairs were comfy, but couldn't get out on his own. No plans to make any more at this point.</p>
<p>Ah, prototyping. My favorite part of making. "Always make at least two!"</p>
<p>For some reason, the second one is always much better! </p><p>That which we persist in doing...</p>
Indeed, indeed! The backpack I made for my school thesis? I made it seven times. If there's any habit design school broke me of, it was thinking that I'd ever do something exactly right the first time.
<p>pretty awesome job! and only one board, that's nice! Thanks for posting.</p>
<p>Well done! I think I will give this a go. Thank you for posting this wonderful Instructable.</p>
<p>You're very welcome. Hey, leave a note and post a photo here if you make one! I'd love to see it. Any questions along the way, let me know.</p>

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Bio: I got an old sewing machine when I was just a kid, and I've been hooked on making stuff ever since. My name is ... More »
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