I guess its a right of passage for any weekend wood worker to make an Adirondack chair, so here is my attempt. I guess I did a pretty good job as I've already been asked to make more for family and friend. (Dang it)
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Step 1: Step 1: Find Plans or Design and Materials.
I've attached a link to plans I used, but really there are so many plans out there. Find one you'd like to use. I'm a fairly tall individual so I've always found most adirondack chairs to short for me, so I modified the plans for my variation and it has a considerably taller back. You'll notice this in the picture compared to almost all plans you find.
I liked these plans as it had simple cuts and lengths and a good starting point for the variation of chairs I wanted to make.
Step 2: Step 2: Measure and Cut and Sand All Your Parts
I'm fortunate to have access to old pallet wood that my company inevitably throws away or other individuals take and burn as fire wood (the horror). Perfectly good wood with some TLC can be reused for projects. I planned on making two chairs initially, so I try to do all of my cutting for the parts at the same time. But after building the first one I upped it to 4 more. After all pieces cut I Sand the heck out of them. Especially since this is all pretty rough wood. I used 50-60 grit sand paper using my old vibrating finishing sander. Be sure to wear a mask when doing this as you have no clue what kind of minerals or treatment some of this wood may have been put through.
Step 3: Step 3: Paint or Assemble: Which Should Be First?
Now if you seen any of my other posts you know how much @*&(!@)^)&^!!!!! I hate painting. However since this is pretty raw wood I opted for the first two chairs I made to paint all the pieces that were cut first before assembling. The other subsequent chairs I made I decided "Hey, you paint the chairs if you want them to last!" Plus they can choose the color scheme they want to use.
Step 4: Step 4: Assemble Base.
Once I got an initial coat of paint on my parts. I started assembling the base of the chair. When assembling be sure to first drill pilot holes. I used a 1/8" drill bit. This is a bit thats smaller than the physical screws thickness. Allowing for easy screwing attachment and helping to prevent the wood from splitting but small enough that the screw is still biting in the wood.
For the parts that are 2"x4" that are being joined to same thickness I used 3" screws. I also made sure to counter sink the screws so they wouldn't be a rough edge. I assembled both sides first. Once both sides are down stand them together on a relative flat surface to make sure they match in height and levelness. Then I attached the front 2"x4" cross brace. and the following the plans with precise measuring from the bottom or top respectively for back cross brace, be sure to make sure it is at the proper angle. So the back will be able to sit flush against it. With the form set you can now start adding the 1"x4" seat slats. I use 1.34" screws to affix the slats to the two sides. Again be sure to drill pilot holes. (Note) I drilling and screwing into place one slat at a time. Being sure to leave at least a 1/4" space between the slats. Again follow your plans for the total number of seat slats required.
Step 5: Step 5: Cut and Assemble Back.
(Sorry no photos when I did this, I guess I got excited with completing the chair, I'll post some when I make the next chair). The backs are where my variation differs. Most of my pallet wood is in 4' sections, so all I do to prepare these is a good sanding. Again following my plans I cut the two cross bases pieces. For the top rounded portion I have a large caliper compass that I draw my circle or rounded top. There are several ways you can finish the tops: Overall round look(similar to mine), Stepped boards with each top slat rounded, Or even cut out some shape in the center for a custom look.
I line up the bottom of the slats across the full width of the bottom brace laying flat on the ground. Then fanning out the top boards to the overall width of the top board. Then finding and marking the center of the middle board. I adjust my caliper/compass out to the outer edge of the outer most slats. Now I know how wide the circle needs to be. With this fixed. I put my point down the center of the middle board until the pencil is at the final height I want my back to be. In my case I made them 36" tall. I'm please with this height, but I'll point out the one draw back to this later. If you don't want or need taller backs then stick with your original plans. With the rounded arch drawn on your boards, cut this portions off with band saw or jigsaw and be sure to sand down edges. Assemble slats to cross brace and top cross brace, being sure to fan out boards at the top for the rounded appearance. (Note the bottom of the slats my not be exactly flush with the bottom cross brace. This will be ok as its not really visible once full assembled.) Be sure to drill your pilot holes on the slats to the cross braces. Also you may want to estimable a pattern for your screw placement though not required.
Step 6: Step 6: Assemble Back to Base
Assembling the back to the base can be a bit tricky by yourself. If you have some body to help hold in position great. If not I've found that turning the chair on its side can help facilitate getting the first screws in place. I used a clamp to hold the opposite side in place so I could then screw in the other side. Again I drilled pilot holes to accomplish this. Once the base is set you can then stand chair back up in to right position. Drill your pilot holes in the slats across the back brace of the base. This will really make your chair solid. Plus (depending on your wood) will start to become very heavy feeling.
Step 7: Step 7: Cut and Glue Armrests
Armrest were a bit challenge for me. Having only 2"x4" and 1"x 4"s that didn't real make for a substantial arm rest in my opinion so rather than have to go out and buy other wood thats wider I decided to wood glue 2 - 1"x4"s together to make each armrest. Be very sure to use ample amounts of wood glue. Then clamp the boards together. I would also recommend using a weight or cross clamp to keep the boards from bowing in an up or down position. After I had my armrests glued. I then used my jig saw and cut out an angled and rounded corners for the finished look of the arms. Also I decided after the fact to put a cup holder in the first chair I made. So I drilled a hold in each armrest and then cut a circle about the width of a solo cup. I then fashioned a flat supported segment two board thickness's down. Wood Glued and used my nail gun around the edge to make sure it'll stay in place. To help give the armrests a more finished look I used my hand trim router and rounded the edges all the way around including the hole for the cup holder.
Step 8: Step 8: Assemble Armrests to Chair
Since I improvised my armrests with them being a bit wider I realized just resting across the arm beam for each side there would be the potential of splitting since they were glued together. So I added another smaller 2"x2" strip along the outside arm beam. I drill pilot holes and screwed this to the side beams. Then for extra strength I used my nail gun to attach the outer board from the armrest to the extra support. (You'll notice my first chair had both armrests with upholders, this was kind of overkill unless your a two-fisted drinker, lol. So swapped the one armrest out to be on the second chair I made.) Note: for the cup holders I realized after the first rain I needed to drill drain holes so water wouldn't pool in the holder.
After all assembled I gave the entire chairs an additional coat of paint, sealing all the screws and hopefully helping to prolong the chair life being left out in the elements.
Step 9: Step 9: Bonus Foot Stool/Game Board
Since I finished the chairs and had them on the patio it occurred to me I needed a foot stool too. There are variations of stool plans you can find out there as well. But I decided to just make mine square table like. After I had it assembled my son suggested that I should do a checker board pattern on top for game purposes. Me being a big game player loved the idea.
So before I painted it and used my painters tape putting down strips and overlapping to form a good seal. I then cut squares out for every other hole. Peeling up the tape for those areas and leaving the other squares in place. I then gave it two coats of paint. Once it was all set and dried. I peeled up the remaining tape, being sure to use my exacto knife to score along the edges so it wouldn't peel paint too. Once all tape was removed I coated the top boars with a coat of polyester paint to seal the exposed raw wood. I'm very please with the results. See my other Instructable post for Martian Chess.
Step 10: Step 10: Cushion and Enjoy.
After the chairs were all complete we enjoyed them so much we decided to get cushions for them. Here is where I mention the down side to my extra tall backs. Most cushions in the market place are made for short chairs, thats why you'll notice in the pictures the cushions look too short. Oh well. My wife and I are still pleased with them. I've made 4 total chairs since my first one. And I was about to do two more but ran out of wood. I had all the parts cut but swiped some of the slats to finish my other Instructable post: Reclaimed Shed Ramp.