This is a simplified and modern take on a classic adirondack chair. It was designed so that even a beginner to woodworking can build it using the most basic power tools, and can easily be completed in one day. The materials are easy to find at any home improvement store and should cost no more than $60 depending on where you live and your choice of wood. Along the way you will learn some basic carpentry and woodworking skills that you can apply to your own projects.
Step 1: Tools Required
Here is a list of the tools you will need.
- Circular saw
- Speed square
- Straight edge
- Tape measure
- Glue (Titebond II wood glue is best for this project)
- Water and Rag
- 9/64" drill bit and counter sink bit (or combination drill bit)
- 1 1/4" wood screws (get deck screws, or stainless steel screws if you plan on keeping this chair outdoors)
- Sandpaper (80 grit, 120 grit, 220 grit)
- Palm sander with 80 grit pads (depending on wood choice, more on this later)
Here is the list of tools that are optional but not required.
- Kreg Jig. For pocket holes. I will be using the Kreg jig K4 for this project but you can use other models.
- 1 1/4" pocket hole screws
- Pocket hole plugs
- Hand saw
- Plane (I used a block plane. you'll see why later)
- Miter saw (not pictured)
-Table saw (not pictured)
Step 2: Gather Materials
Here is the materials you will need
- 4 - 8 foot 1x6
- 3 - 8 foot 1x4
Remember that when something is called a 1x, that means its actual dimension is 3/4. If its a 1x6 it will actually be 5 1/2" wide, and if its a 1x4 it will actually be 3 1/2" wide
For this chair I will be using cedar because it is naturally weather resistant and lightweight, but you can use any species of wood you like.
The cedar I got only came rough sawn, which means that one side is textured and not perfectly smooth. Most home improvement stores only sell cedar rough sawn, but a specialty lumberyard will probably have smooth boards available. This is where the plane and palm sander will be used. Most other species of wood you find will will be smooth on all sides.
Be sure to pick through the pile to find boards that have minimal knots, are straight, and not warped.
In the next few steps I will explain some of the techniques used in this project...
Step 3: Using a Speed Square to Mark Angles
A speed square can look very confusing but once you figure it out its very simple.
- Place the edge marked "Pivot" on the board where you will be making the cut.
- Tilt the square while keeping the pivot in place. the edge of the square marked "degrees" is where you will want to line up with the same edge of the board your pivot point is on. In the picture, the square is set at 10 degrees.
- Mark the edge with your pencil where your pivot point is, and you have a 10 degree angle.
Step 4: Cutting With a Circular Saw
Using a Circular saw can be dangerous. here are a few tips to make sure you don't hurt yourself.
- Always make sure that the piece you are cutting will not "bind". Binding happens when the two sides of the board you are cutting are pushed together, pinching the saw blade. This can cause the saw to push back towards you. Always make sure that one side of the board can fall away from the blade. (see poorly drawn sketches)
- When making a "rip" cut (with the grain across the length of the board), place two scraps of wood underneath the board you are cutting, so that neither side will fall. Be sure the depth of the blade is set higher so you don't cut through the table!
- Clamp the board down whenever possible so that your hands stay clear of the blade.
- Wear safety glasses
- Don't be over confident. Even if you are a pro, respect the tools, and pay attention every time you make a cut.
- Keep your fingers clear of the blade
- Before setting the saw down, especially with older saws, make sure the blade guard has moved back to cover the blade.
Here is how you make cuts accurately with a circular saw
- Place saw "table" flat on the board
- Pull trigger and slowly push blade through the board on the side of your mark that will be the cutoff. don't cut directly on the center of the line. (see picture)
- For rip cuts, go slowly, watching the blade, making sure you stay on your mark.
One of the trickiest cuts in this project is a beveled rip. It uses the same principals as a normal rip, but with the saw set at a 20 degree angle.
Here are a few more complicated ways to make the cuts in this project if you have access to the right tools. I won't go into them in detail here. There are a lot of great videos on youtube explaining some of these methods.
- clamping a straight edge to your board to guide a circular saw
- using a miter saw
- using a table saw and jigs
Step 5: Using Wood Glue, and Screwing Boards Together.
In this project, everything will be screwed together, however, I like to add some glue for a little extra strength. simply put some glue on both surfaces of what you're gluing. It's best to spread the glue evenly across both surfaces with your finger so the entire surface area is covered. after its screwed together, take a wet rag, and wipe off all the excess glue that squeezed out. Thats it!
If you don't pre drill, its very likely that the board will split. Especially if the screw is close to the edge. Just drill the hole where you want the screw to be using either a drill bit and a countersink bit, or a combination. Only drill roughly the depth of the screw head. use 1 1/4" deck screws. Then screw the boards together. It may be a good idea to clamp the pieces together before screwing them, as sometimes the screw will push the other piece away before it grabs.
Step 6: Using a Kreg Jig (optional)
One way to make your chair look a little nicer is to use pocket holes instead of just screwing right through the face. Click here for a great guide on use to use a Kreg pocket hole jig. Once you've completed the chair you can go back and fill the holes by gluing in a plug. Just put some glue on it and press it in. After its dry, cut off the rest of the plug flush with a hand saw, and sand it smooth for a clean looking finish.
Step 7: Smoothing Rough Sawn Boards
If you're going to use rough sawn cedar for your chair you will want to definitely read this step. Here is the best way, I found, to smooth a rough sawn board.
- If you have a plane, (I used a block plane, but other types will work) set the depth of the blade shallow so it barely cuts, and slide it across the rough sawn surface from end to end. I do this just to take off the roughest parts. watch out for knots though as they can cause your plane to get stuck, or cause a tear out in the wood. I would recommend only doing this if you're familiar with hand planing in general.
- Use a palm sander to sand down the rough surface. I usually start with 80 grit, then use 120 grit, then go down to 220 grit. just press down on the sander and move it across the board in the same direction of the grain. Sand it to be as smooth as you would like.
Be sure to wear a dust mask when sanding (there will a LOT of dust)
Step 8: Cut the Pieces!
Cut each board exactly how I have listed below. If you do this part right you will have minimal scrap wood. all of these cuts will be 90 degrees. we'll get to the angles later.
- Before making any cuts you will first want to square off the ends of each board. this is done because boards are rarely cut square when you buy them. Only cut around 1/4" or less off the end of your board. (see first picture)
- Then, measure from the end you just cut, and mark the number.
- Use your speed square and pencil to mark a square line where you will be cutting
- Cut the board on your mark
- Repeat step 2 for your next piece
Here are the measurements of each board
- 22 1/2"
- 17 1/2"
- 22 1/2"
- 22 1/2"
- 19 1/2"
- 22 1/2"
- 22 1/2"
Step 9: Sort Your Boards
Next you will sort the boards according to their sizes. Here is your list of what you should have, and what they will be used for.
Back rest - 3 - 42" 1x6
Rear legs - 2 - 48" 1x6
Arm rests - 2 - 30" 1x6
Front legs - 2 - 24" 1x6
Seat front - 1 - 22 1/2" 1x6
Back rest base - 1 - 21" 1x6
Back rest upper support - 1 - 17 1/2" 1x4
Back braces - 2 - 28" 1x4
Seat slats - 4 - 22 1/2" 1x4
Rear leg brace - 1 - 21" 1x4
Armrest bracket - 2 - 16" 1x4
Center backrest support - 1 - 19 1/2" 1x4
You should only have 2 leftover 1x4 pieces.
Step 10: Cut the Rear Legs
- Grab one of your 48" rear leg pieces.
- Mark a 10 degree angle on one end close to the end of the board
- Measure 30 1/12" from the top end of your 10 degree angle mark,and mark it
- Measure 47" from the bottom end of your 10 degree angle mark, and mark it
- From that 47 " mark, mark a 10 degree angle
- Measure along that angle 2 7/8" and mark it
- Use a straight edge to connect the 30 1/2" mark at the top (step 4), to the 2 7/8"mark on the angle (step 7), and mark it.
- Cut your marks
- Now that one leg is cut, lay that leg on top of your other 48" 1x6 and trace it
- Cut out the second leg
This same process will be used in the following steps
Step 11: Cut Your Front Legs
- grab one 24" 2x6
- lay out dimensions according to the picture, using the same methods from the previous step. (remember, all cuts are 90 degrees unless otherwise specified)
- cut along your marks
- trace the first leg onto the other 24" 2x6
- cut second leg
Step 12: Cut the Arm Rests
- grab one 30" 1x6
You should be getting the hang of this by now...
Step 13: Cut the Arm Rest Brackets
- Grab one 16 " 1x4
Step 14: Cut Back Brace
- grab one 28" 1x4
Step 15: Cut Center Backrest Support
This is the beveled rip cut that I mentioned earlier that can be quite tricky for a beginner. a table saw is really the best way to do this cut, but it can be done with a circular saw.
- Grab the 19 1/2" 1x4
- Mark 3" across the length, use your straight edge.
- set your saw to a 20 degree bevel
- cut the line making sure to keep the table of the saw flat against the piece as you're cutting.
your cut may end up not perfectly straight, it's ok though! you can always sand it a little bit to get rid of the blade marks. That edge will be mostly hidden anyway.
Congratulations!, you're done cutting all your parts!
Step 16: Assembling the Base
Grab these pieces...
- Rear legs
- 1 - 22 1/2" 1x6
- attach the 22 1/2" 1x6 to the face of the rear legs
- glue first, then either screw through the face (pre-drill!) or use the keg jig to do pocket holes from the inside.
Step 17: Assembling the Base 2
Grab the 21 1/2 " 1x6
- mark 15 1/2" from the front of one of the rear legs and mark it
- mark a 20 degree angle
- repeat steps 1 and 2 for the other side
- glue, then screw on the line (remember, use the Kreg jig if you have it.)
Step 18: Assembling the Front Legs
Grab the front legs, and the front leg brackets
- Glue and screw (or kreg jig) the front leg brackets to the 90 degree side of the front legs. make sure that you do two opposite facing legs. They should look just like the picture. Make sure all the edges are flush. Clamp if possible.
Step 19: Adding the Front Legs
- clamp the back of the rear legs to a table so the front is suspended
- measure 4 3/4" from the front of the base
- mark a 10 degree bevel as shown
- on one of the legs, mark 5" up from what will be the inside part of the leg
- glue, then clamp the front leg to the base making sure to line up all of your marks as shown in the picture
- pre-drill and screw at least 4 screws from the inside of the base, attaching the leg.
- repeat on the opposite side
- remove the rear clamps
Its starting to look like something!
Step 20: Assembling the Back Rest
Grab the 42" 1x6s and the 17 1/2" 1x4
- Lay out on the base where the backrest pieces will go. find the center, (10 1/2" from either end) and measure over 2 3/4" to either side of the center
- from those marks measure over 1/2"
- use the square to mark lines where the backrest boards will go
- pre drill at least 4 holes at the bottom of each backrest
- glue, clamp, then screw each board on your lines. Make sure the bottom of each backrest is flush with the bottom of your support piece.
- measure 8 1/2" down from the top edge of the backrest.
- square your mark
- glue and screw the 17 1/2" 1x4 along that line. be sure to keep the ends flush, and make sure that your spacing is the same as the bottom (1/2")
Step 21: Assembling the Arm Rests
Grab your arm rests and the center bracket support (the beveled rip) and get ready for what might be the most difficult part of the assembly.
- measure one inch from either end of your center bracket support
- mark square lines with your speed square
- if you're using a kreg jig, now would be a good time to drill your pocket holes in the center bracket support
- align the inside corner of the armrest with your 1" mark of the center bracket support making sure that the bevel is placed the right direction, and that the square edge of the armrest is facing in. (see picture)
- pre-drill and add one screw close to the corner of each armrest. you will add another later
- if you're using a Kreg jig, drill pocket holes in the front legs now.
- glue the tops of the front legs and the beveled edge of the center bracket support
- flip the whole thing over and rest it on the front legs close to where it should go, then use a clamp to hold the center bracket support in place. make sure that its centered on the backrest.
- Align the front of the armrests with the front leg by measuring from each side and the front of the armrest bracket. It should be about 5 1/2" on the front, and 5/8" on the sides.
- make sure everything is where you like it, and screw the armrests to the front legs.
Step 22: Assembling the Back Brace
Grab your back braces and the 21" 1x4.
- glue, then align the 45 degree side of the back braces tight to the bottom of the armrest and the side of the center support bracket as is shown in the picture
- screw together
- repeat on opposite side
- add another screw to the armrest from the under side of the center support bracket
- align the bottom edge of the back brace with the bottom of the rear leg, the point of that angle should be 12" from the back of the rear leg
- screw the back braces to the rear legs from the inside
- now that the back braces are installed, you can screw the center bracket support to the backrest.
- finally, install that 21" 1x4 between the back braces making sure to keep that top edge flush with the top of the rear legs.
Step 23: Add the Seat Slats
Grab the last four 22 1/2" pieces you have. These are your seat slats, (duh). By now, you should be getting pretty good at putting things together. If your using a Kreg jig, make sure you lay these out first, then drill your pocket holes from underneath.
- mark 3" back from the front on both sides. This will be where your first slat will go
- the spacing should be 1/2" for the rest of the slats.
- glue it, screw it, and you're done! sort of.
Step 24: Finishing Touches
Now you're probably going to want to take some sandpaper and sand everything down as smooth as you want it to be. I like to round the sharp edges a little bit. Always start with a lower grit and work your way to a higher grit following the grain as you sand. If you did pocket holes, fill in the holes with plugs, cut them flush, and sand it smooth.
Then when you're done with the sanding, it's up to you how you want to finish it. you can paint it, stain it, give it a few coats of polyurethane, or just leave it plain wood.
I hope you enjoyed building this chair. Now go sit down for a while, you earned it! While you're doing that, hop on your phone, and check out my website. You can also follow me on Instagram, I'm always working on something interesting, and will probably be adding more instructables soon.