We're going to make an Adirondack style chair...using wood that we salvage from shipping pallets. These pallets were free from a local business. Be sure to ask before taking pallets. Many businesses recycle the pallets themselves or will use them over and over. Try to get pallets that are not broken, and you will need some with longer bases. These are the 2x4 pieces you will need for the legs. Plans for these chairs are all over the internet. I won't share the plans I used, because part of the fun is looking at all the different styles and finding the one you like best. just remember any plan you find can be adapted to work with pallet wood.
Step 1: What You Need
Make sure you read your equipment manuals and use all safety gear that is recommended. For this project I used a compound miter saw, jig saw, cordless drill, cordless driver, table saw, palm sander, and belt sander. Safety glasses, dust mask, and gloves while handling the pallet wood are a must. To disassemble my pallets I use a tool made by Troy Young (https://www.facebook.com/troy.young.737?fref=ts). I have found this tool to be the best and easiest for dis-assembly. Some folks prefer to use a reciprocating saw, and cut through the nails. However you take your pallet apart try not to split the boards. You will also need coated screws and waterproof wood glue. Keep in mind your chair will be used outside. All products used should be able to hold up in the weather in your area.
Step 2: Cutting and Laying Out the Seat Frame
Cut all your seat pieces and dry fit them making sure all is right. I used a pipe clamp to hold the pieces together. Once I had everything fitting correctly I glued and screwed my frame together. Set this part aside to allow your glue to dry. Depending on how you finish these chairs you may want to do some sanding once it's dry. I wanted a rustic finish so my sanding was very limited.
Step 3: Seat Back Assembly
Next I started on my seat back frame and slats. I used two pieces across the back and glued and screwed the slats on. Be sure to leave about a half inch gap between the slats. You can use a piece of scrap as a spacer to make the slats equal both top and bottom.
Step 4: Seat Slat Assembly
While the seat back dried I went to my seat frame again. Now I cut my seat slats and dry fit all the pieces. Then it was a matter of gluing and screwing the slats to the seat frame. On the seat slats I space my gap about 1/4 inch. This not only looks good but any rainwater will easily drain.
Step 5: The Chair Back
I drew a rounded top for the chair back. Then I cut this with my jig saw. I sanded and rounded the edges using my palm sander. Again I was going for a rustic look so I did not fill in any of the existing nail holes or knots.
Step 6: Mount the Chair Back and Armrests
The next thing was to mount the seat back to the chair frame. Then the armrests were mounted to the chair frame last. Every joint was both glued and screwed using coated screws and waterproof glue. Remember these chairs will be out in the weather.
Step 7: Here Is What We Have at This Point
This is what it should look like at this point. Now is where you can sand to achieve the smoothness you want. I just did a light sanding with my palm sander. Then I went over all the rounded edges with my belt sander for smooth curves. Once more overall with the palm sander and I was ready to paint.
Step 8: Wood Protection
I used Kilz for my base primer coat. Kilz is a great sealer and it also covers any stains or stamps on the wood. Remember we are using pallet wood and it's never perfect. I brushed on the paint for total coverage but some folks like to use spray to make it easier to get in between the slats.
Step 9: Painting
I chose a bright blue Krylon brush on paint for my finish. Several coats were needed to cover well. I actually made two chairs while I was at it. The plan was to sell them but my wife liked them so much we now have some new outdoor furniture.
Step 10: Hand Painting
The hand painting was tedious but I think it provides the best looking finish. I used both a brush and a small roller. I checked with an expert on whether or not a clear finish should be applied. The decision was not to apply any clear as the UV rays deplete the finish quickly.
Step 11: All Finished
Once I finished the chair I decided to make a footstool to go with it. These chairs turned out great. They are comfortable and sturdy. The best thing is they are easy to make, cost is minimal, and you are recycling by using pallets that would normally be thrown in a landfill. Remember, use your imagination and have FUN!
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