Wood: Adirondack chair #2

A few weeks ago, I made a prototype Adirondack chair out of 1x3s and 1x4s. I’d lost the guideline sheet that came with my Adirondack templates, so I tried reconstructing the chair-plans from photographs. I guessed 1x3s… turned out that the design required 1x4s. Whups. The resulting chair was not as sturdy as I’d like, and pretty wonky-looking.

This is mostly written for me.

An Adirondack chair built with 1×6 and 1×3 parts — neither sturdy nor beautiful.

You can see this chair in the first photograph in this blog-post, at left. The proportions of the back are wrong, and the slats of the seat and back are too narrow compared with the width of the arms or the front board. The proportions and spacing are off, and — oh, yeah, there’s a front board that needs trimming. It overhangs the left leg of the chair by quite a lot. (That part is called the apron of the chair.)

So the next step was to acquire some new wood for the chair built with 1x4s and 1x6s (and one length of 1×1 about 30″ long). In general, you need two 1x6s by 10′ lengths: one of those boards is going to produce the two arms, and one of the vertical legs. The other 1×6′ board delivers the two long rising legs, the other vertical leg, and the apron. There’s about two (2) feet of “waste board”, which winds up forming the cross pieces on the vertical legs that support the arms at a right angle alongside each leg, and the apron of the chair.

Second try, with 1×6’s and 1×4’s — more sturdy, more stable, fewer wriggly bits

The 1x4s get cut up into five (5) 3-foot lengths for the back, and five (5) 2-foot lengths for the seat, and about 30″ for the backboard that joins the two arms behind the five angled verticals of the back. One 10-foot 1×4″ board can become the 2-foot lengths of the seat; but it’s better to get a 12-foot board and a 8-foot board (maybe) for the five verticals of the back, and the 30″ backboard, and the crossbars that support the arms.

[I think. I bought materials in bulk to build three of these chairs. I want four in total, my 1x3s prototype and three 1x4s-production chairs — but that’s going to take me a little while to produce. The resulting structure, though, is incredibly sturdy and well-structured, and I really like the stability of the chair built with 1x4s.]

A little trimming with a chisel to accommodate the connection between arms and backboard

Once the seat, legs, and arm supports are attached, the next thing is the assembly process of the back. Those 3-foot-long 1x4s get drilled and then screwed to a 1×1 length that fits between the rising legs at the back of the seat, which is screwed into place. The backboard gets put across the back of the chair, and the ends of that board have to be trimmed a bit at an angle, so that screws can be put through the back ends of the arms into the side/edge of the backboard, to hold the chair’s left and right sides together. Make sure to get the angle of the pilot holes through the arms into the backboard drilled correctly! My screws came out the wrong part of the board (given that they’re not supposed to come out of the board at all, of course they’re at the wrong angle!).

The finished Chair #2

I didn’t get too many photographs of the last stages of the chair assembly, though. There comes a point partly through the assembly of the back when, if you’re not paying attention, you can rip out screws or lose control of the angle of assembly or have one of a dozen things go wrong. This is especially true when you’re working without a large assembly table on which you can assemble the final chair, with clamps and jigs to hold everything for you (or in a workshop setting where you can ask someone else to hold this or that wooden bit in place while you drill or screw into something else, and make everything secure

All in all, though, Chair #2 turned out much better than Prototype Chair #1. Even though it’s been six years since I’ve built this chair design, I feel like most of the major questions of how to build it have come back to me, and I can do this again (and again, and again, and again…).

All right. Chairs #3 and #4 still to go, and then it’s time to work on a table of some kind. Our firepit space might be ready for autumn. Hopefully, the weather and the coronavirus will be such that it will be possible to use it with some friends!

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