Introduction: Adirondack Chair

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

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

You can also click here to see the plans PDF.

Step 2: 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 12: 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

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

Step 14: 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

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.