A few years ago, I designed this particular Muskoka Chair to give to my nephew as a Christmas present. These are more commonly referred to as Adirondack chairs in the States. I decided that this would also be a great project for my Grade 11 Woodworking class. I started the project about a month before the holidays and started taking orders, using my Nephew's chair as an example. I decided to set the project up so that students would work in groups to construct the parts of the chair and complete assembly. Because the final products were being sold, my evaluation of their work weighed heavily on the group's ability to perform rigorous quality control measures.

  1. By following a specific set of instructions, and meeting high production standards, students will be forced to improve accuracy with respect to print-reading, measurement, machine set-up, and assembly.
  2. Students will also develop an appreciation of the importance of using jigs and fixtures in the manufacturing process.
  3. Students will also develop skills in problem solving, organization, and teamwork.
I'm not going to include instructions for each of the jigs I made for this project. My shop is likely quite different than yours and you can develop your own based on my pictures. I will however, let you in on a few tips that I have learned after running this project a few times.

  1. Let the students build the project without jigs first. This really helps them understand the usefulness of taking the extra time to make a jig.
  2. Take the time to make easy-to-use jigs. This is important for SAFETY, and for longevity. A poorly designed jig will be misunderstood and misused by students. Trust me, nothing is fool proof. Someone in your class will find a way to ruin your best creation.
  3. Use a log-sheet of some sort. The students need a way to track their progress.
  4. Have a good storage system in place for project work, and stress the importance of not wasting materials. I evaluate groups on their quality control, and efficiency. Because of this, you will find that groups will try to hide their mistakes, and grab some more lumber, or even other group's completed work.
  5. Stress the importance of problem-solving. To try and detract from the possibilities of the above mentioned step, I remind students that I'm equally impressed by their ability to problem-solve and document their mistakes and fixes. For example: Some groups might cut an arm piece too short. Could it be saved and used for a leg?
  6. I have yet to create assembly jigs. I have found that despite my best efforts, there are very few groups that will produce accurate enough pieces to make assembly jigs worthwhile. Even a sixteenth of inch difference at the table saw, will cause problems when it comes to assembly.
The beauty of this design, is the simplicity of the pieces. Unlike so many Adirondack/Muskoka chairs out there, this design uses pieces that are all the same width(3.5"). The arms and back pieces all have matching curves, and are all the same length (18"). This is the perfect project to explore mass-production with.

Step 1: Material Selection & Preparation

I typically have students use basswood or poplar when making these chairs. They're both soft and easy to work with, and have fewer knots than pine. It's really important that students are careful with their material selection. 

They should:
  1. avoid knots, splits, and cracks
  2. make sure that all pieces of their chair are close in in grain pattern and colour
  3. ensure that joiner fence is square, so that edges are accurate
  4. ensure that boards are planed to a thickness of 3/4" and cut to a width of 3-1/2"
  5. ensure that end cuts are square
  6. make sure that they have the correct number of pieces for chair
  7. BE SAFE!!
<p>Fantastic project. I hope the kids are still making these, they are simple yet quite challenging I can imagine. Did you ever find the scaled up size for older kids? </p>
5 stars <br><br>awesome ible. very well written and documented.
Hi Jay, <br>This is a very detailed, very well written and very well photographed 'ible. Well done mate, your workmanship is remarkable, your design is both simple and elegant. <br> <br>I wish I had the tools available to you at your school, I'm certainly going to make one of these for my little daughter, she'll love having her own chair :-) <br> <br>Thanks again and keep 'em coming please. <br> <br>R
I'm glad you enjoyed this instructable. Please send pictures of you completed chair. :)
Very nice, I especially like the creation of templates. <br><br>You forgot the beer (sippy cup) holder!
That thought certainly crossed my mind. I'm trying to find photos of the scaled up version that we built of this design. It was meant for 5-10 year olds, but it actually fit my scrawny frame. There may be future additions to this instructable.
This is awesome. Great job, great write-up, and thanks for sharing. Hope you do well in the Teacher Contest AND the ShopBot contest.
Thank you very much. I'm hoping for some success too. Everything I win goes to the students. So far, they have a cordless dremel. :)

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a High School Technology teacher with self-diagnosed Creativitis, a disease that doesn't let my brain sleep. I spend my days trying to ... More »
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