DIY: Adirondack Chair

by Elaine Knuth 09/16/2020

Image by Susan Lowry Hare from Pixabay

Adirondack chairs are popular on decks and for outdoor living, though they also look great in a rustic living room or cabin!  Rather than being straight-backed and uncomfortable, their design make them a joy to sit in.  However, a finished Adirondack chair can up to $700 dollars, whereas materials will run you between $50 and $150 depending on the wood you choose to use. Check out how to make your very own Adirondack chair by following the instructions below.

Note: you will need a miter saw and a jigsaw to complete this project.

Materials

Lumber

  • One 2" x 2" x 6' footboard
  • Three 2" x 4" x 8' footboards
  • Four 1" x 4" x 8' footboards
  • Hardware

  • 2-inch screws
  • 2-inch deck screws
  • 4-inch deck screws
  • 1 1/2-inch deck screws or exterior screws
  • Other

  • Wood glue
  • Directions

    A) Cutting the planks to size

    1. For the stretcher boards
      Cut two 2 x 4s such that the long end measures 31 7/8".  One end should be cut to 20o off of square at the shortest point; the other end should be cut to 35off square at the longest point. Then, mark off 2" on the 20o square end and cut at a right angle (90o) to your 20o cut. 

      If you aren't sure how to measure a certain number of degrees off of square, check out this quick how-to here
    2. For the legs
      Cut two, 2" x 4" planks to 20 3/4".  Cut both ends parallel, 15o off square.  These will be the back legs.  For the front legs, cut two, 2" x 4" planks to 20" long.
    3. For the seat
      Cut five, 1" x 4" planks to 22 1/2".
    4. For the arms of the chair:
      Cut two, 1" x 4" planks to 27".
    5. For the arm rest support:
      Cut two, 2" x 2" planks to 26 1/2".  Cut one end at 15o off square.
    6. For the back support and front apron:
      Cut two2" x 4" planks to 22 1/2".
    7. For the back slats:
      Cut five1" x 4" planks to 36".
    8. For the top support section:
      Cut one, 1" x 4" board to 19 1/2".
    9. For the base support section:
      Cut one2" x 4" board to 19 1/2".

    B) Building the legs

    1. Using 2 1/2" deck screws, attach both back and front legs to an arm support, keeping the outside and top edges even.  Use clamps and wood glue for additional stability.
    2. Turn the front leg such that the arm support faces downward on your bench, and elevate off the bench using 2x4s.  Measure 13 3/4" from the base of your front leg on the left-hand side, and mark.  On the same leg, measure 1/2" horizontally and mark.   Line up your stretcher such that the 20o off of square side lines up with your two marked measurements.  The 35off square side should now line up to the base on the right.  Fix in place with 2 1/2" deck screws.  Use wood glue for additional stability.
    3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 to make your second leg.
    4. Using 2 1/2" deck screws and wood glue, attach the front apron such that it lines up with the stretcher board on each side.

    C) Making the seat

    Drill two pilot holes on each side of your seat slats, using a countersink bit to keep the wood intact.  Line up on the top of the stretcher and screw into place using the 2" screws, being sure to put a 1/2" gap between each slat.  Do not use wood glue on the seat slats; they will naturally move more than the rest of the chair.
    Note: it helps to lay out all the slats first, screwing in the outermost slats before the others and adjusting as you go, so that the spacing is right.

    D) Making the back

    1. Turn the chair upright with the back towards you.  You will note that the back support board is wider than width of the legs to which it must be affixed.  Attach the back support to both of the back legs at an angle, such that the distal side is pointed upward and the proximal side is pointed downward until flush with both sides.  Use 2 1/2" deck screws and wood glue to affix.
    2. Attach the back slats as you did the seat slats in Part C: 1/2" apart, using 2" screws at the base but with 1 1/4" exterior screws at the top.  Do not use wood glue on the slats, as they will naturally need a bit more flexibility.  
      Note: it helps to lay out all the slats first, screwing in the outermost slats before the others and adjusting as you go, so that the spacing is right.
    3. Using a bucket, trash bin, or other large, circular item as a guide, draw an arc at the top of your back slats.  Then, using your jigsaw, make the cut.
    4. Slide the finished back into place in your chair.  Secure with 2 1/2" deck screws.  Finally, screw the chair back into the back support with 2" deck screws.

    Finishing touches

    1. Finish the chair by screwing the armrests into the arm supports using 2" deck screws and wood glue, clamping into place.  
    2. After all your glue has cured as per the instructions on your wood glue, sand any jagged edges, particularly the top of the chair back.
    3. Finally, paint or spray with at least two coats of finish: a clear coat if you really like the look of your wood.
    About the Author
    Author

    Elaine Knuth

    Hi, I'm Elaine Knuth and I'd love to assist you. Whether you're in the research phase at the beginning of your real estate search or you know exactly what you're looking for, you'll benefit from having a real estate professional by your side. I'd be honored to put my real estate experience to work for you.