Adirondack Chair




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.

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Question 8 months ago on Introduction

How does one draw the radius of 38 degrees


Question 1 year ago on Introduction

I just downloaded the pattern, where is the pattern for the top rail support and at what angle do I cut the leg?
Is the chair 22” wide or does it widen in the front?


2 years ago on Introduction

The specs are very difficult to read. Do you have blow up of them or templates?


Question 2 years ago on Step 1

You mention you selected cedar because in comes in 3/4 in and 1 in do you mean actual like .750 thick and actual 1.00 thick or typical wood size like 1 in = .75 and 3/4 = .625
Thanks Mel


2 years ago on Step 4

I did not see the leg size on this plan. What length is the front up rite leg and back up rite? The back does show the angle.


3 years ago

Difficult to see measurements in plan on download


Question 3 years ago on Step 1

While transposing the dimensions onto paper for templates, the angles and measurements don't seem to match well. It states that there are 3- 2" segments, with an angle of 162 and 145 at the 2 apexes. when I do this, it brings the total height of the rail to 5.5 inches, but the directions read 5.25. Something seems to be off. The angels and the measurements don't agree with each other. I am not sure if this is very critical to the build itself, or if i'm doing something wrong. I had other people with good math skills look at this and they agree with me.
can you shed light on this? Thanks, Steve


8 years ago

How much wood do I need tobuy

Michael Costa
Michael Costa

Reply 4 years ago

I know this is 4 years old, but it might help someone. Each chair is just over 17 board feet (if I'm not mistaken). To calculate board feet, multiply the length x width x thickness of a board (inches) and divide by 144.

1) If you are going to you a specialty wood like cedar figure on about 25 board feet. There will be waste.
2) You can make one chair and the table from 1 standard 8'x4' piece of 3/4" plywood.
3) You can make one chair with 6 standard 2x6x8 lumber. You can get this pressure treated to withstand the elements.

Michael Costa
Michael Costa

Tip 4 years ago on Step 15

1) Put your chair together before rounding over all the edges. Pine and cedar are very soft woods that you will bang up and dent during the assembly process. Once the chair is together to your liking, disassemble the chair and use the pieces as templates for the 2nd chair, then round over the edges and sand. You will remove all dings and dents. You can then finish the chair while it's disassembled.

2) Use ships curve to draw in some of the angles. Tape pieces together when cutting and sanding to ensure you get exact matching pieces.

3) Don't attach seat slat 9 until after the back slats are in place. You won't have room to screw in the bottom of the back slats otherwise.

4) After attaching the center back slat, do not attach the end slats next. You'll never get the spacing correct for the other slats. Make 6, 3/8" (a tad larger) spacers and use them between the slats. Three for the top and three for the bottom. Put the 3 left (Or right) slats in place and screw them on. Then repeat on the other side. Also, the 4 inch block they used to make room does not prevent the slats from sliding off while trying to align them. Prop the chair up on its back with something that will make it horizontal so the slats don't slide. I used a box of cat litter.

I'll post pictures later.

Luiz Matta
Luiz Matta

Question 4 years ago on Step 15

I'm talking about Brazil and to sign up as premium I would like to know if the measurements of the adirondeck chair have in millimeters or only in inches

Michael Costa
Michael Costa

Answer 4 years ago

Take any inches measurement you see and multiply that number by 25.4. For example, the seat slats are 23.25 inches. 23.25 x 25.4 = 590.5mm.


6 years ago



7 years ago

Sorry to be such a noob. In the plans, when the thickness is 1" does that mean really 1" or the finished .875" I find at big box stores. The same is true for the 3/4" boards. Do I use the 3/4" boards which are actually .625" finished? It seems like I would have to plane boards to end up with the literal 1" and 3/4" thicknesses. Any advice?


Reply 6 years ago

Yes, the sizes are the nominal sizes, what we nowadays would refer to as "rough lumber." Long ago the lumber mills offered finished lumber as an option and most people ended up buying it that way, but to avoid confusion, the lumbermills kept the same "rough cut" name.
So almost all lumber nowadays is sold S4S, which means "surfaced four sides" which is why a 2 x 4 is only 1.5 x 3.5.