How To | Build the Ultimate Adirondack Chair

So I'm about to knock out my next set of
Adirondack chairs and I've done a few build videos of these in my typical
style but I figured it'd be worth doing more of a how-to type video explaining
kind of the process behind what I'm doing and more of the detailed stuff
that you wouldn't typically get in one of my videos so I've actually got eight
chairs I got to build now I'm guessing that's gonna take me about a week or so
well let's get to it so I'm starting out here with my rough
stock I use five quarter by eight it's a Western redcedar clear vertical grain it
takes approximately 30 lineal feet per chair and I get this all rough sawn from
the lumberyard and plane it down to thickness myself so from a five quarter
board I can get this down to a one inch finished thickness for the chairs let's
get these guys plane down got these all planed down to an inch-thick now
the best part the free cedar mulch for the flowerbeds I make to many of these I actually got a dedicated
storage area within the miter saw station for the template this chair has been specifically designed to
minimize the amount of waste material on these 8-inch wide boards a lot of pieces
kind of fit together like puzzle pieces when you're laying them out if you're
really careful I just find the best pieces for the arms because those are
kind of the focal piece and those getting the most beating on as well now
these arms are a good example of that really efficient layout you can flip it
around upside down and they kind of nest together then you just need to leave like
at least an eighth of an inch maybe a little bit more for the blade when
you're cutting between the pieces pretty repetitive process especially for
this big of a batch of chairs but basically just go through that whole
process kind of nesting the pieces together as best you can through all
these boards and then I cut them down to a more manageable size if I can get a
straight cut across I'll use my cordless skill saw and if I need to cut between
curved pieces I cut with a jig saw.

I just get them cut down small enough so I can
bring them inside and cut them down to the final shape now any pieces that have flat edges on
them will get cut on the table saw so when I'm laying those out I like to cut one
edge flat first and then rip it down to whatever rough size and I trace those
pieces out so I can cut the curved parts of it on the bandsaw so these main leg
pieces here are a little under five and a half inches so I'm gonna set the table
saw to five and a half and then I'll rip this board down. so now this piece will be a
couple of those back legs and the remainder should be big enough for a
couple of back slats so I always start with the largest pieces
first like the arms and these big back legs here kind of lay those out first
and then all the smaller pieces can fit around them like this arm support is a
good example I could fit it in here around this leg one of the great things about design of
this chair is that while some of the dimensions are pretty crucial as far as
like the height of the legs and things like that some are more cosmetic
dimensions really where you can kind of fudge them a little bit in if you have
to go a little bit smaller to get a piece instead of throwing that in the
scrap pile you can do that one good example is this arm support bracket here
the width of it is not super crucial so I can fit this piece on here lose about
a quarter of an inch now as long as I use the same size piece on both sides of
the chair and there's a pair of them you won't be able to notice between the
different chairs other pieces where you can do that are the legs as long as you
get the height of them right the width if it's like an eighth of an inch or so
off that's all right so I find that that just helps out a ton with the layout
process so now I have all the legs done the back supports the leg supports
and it's just a matter of cutting all of the back slats and the seat slats which
is pretty repetitive it's just a matter of cutting these boards down to width
and then cutting them to length because they're all basically just rectangles
except for the back slats but I just cut those as rectangles and then cut the top
curve on them on the bandsaw later so I got a little time to go alright I got a layer of cedar sawdust
on me I'm calling it a day.

I got all the pieces cut out so tomorrow is going to
be a matter of cutting these all down to finish size and sanding off the round
edges smooth and I'll also start rounding over the edges on the pieces alright so day two I'm working on
cutting all these pieces down size all the curves are cut on the bandsaw and
then all the straight edges are either cut on the table saw or on the miter saw
most of the rectangular pieces were already cut down the size when I was
cutting everything out yesterday but there's a few that still have some
straight cuts on so all I do is cut an eighth to a sixteenth of an inch or so
outside of the line and then I'll sand it in to the line outside curves are
done on the disk sander and then the inside curves are done on the belt
spindle sander alright let's get to work All 240 pieces are now cut down to size.

It's time to move them over to the sander to bring them down to the line and bring
them all smooth let's start with the disk sander for the outside curves So now you can see all the outside curves are
looking good gotta move to the inside curves we'll do
that on the belt spindle sander so next thing on the list we move over
to the router table to round over the edges on all of the pieces for the
chairs some edges you round over both sides some is just one and some you
don't round over at all.

It's all lined out in the plan. I just use this 3/8 inch
roundover bit it gives you a nice even shape around all the edges of the piece
because of some of the shapes used in these chairs you get some funky grain patterns
you gotta be careful when you're cutting these round overs I'll usually do climb
cuts when I'm going against the grain and then when you're going with the
grain it's just like normal and then I'll go back and clean it up with a
normal cut So now the pieces are all sanded
shaped down the sides with the corners around it over it's a matter of just
doing some pre drilling for all the screws they're gonna fasten these chairs
together all of the holes I use just a regular countersink bit to pre-drill
except for the front and back legs that use a carriage bolt to fasten them
together I used quarter inch carriage bolts and I
drill a 5/16 inch hole is to give it a little bit of room to assemble before
you tighten it up the only pieces I do not pre-drill are the arms and I will
drill those holes during assembly so first I'll mark all these holes out and
then I will head over to the drill press so all the other chair parts are just
simply marked and drilled except for these seat slats because there's so many
of you gets pretty repetitive drilling out these holes so I made this little
plywood jig here that fits these slats in there perfectly so it seats it right
in the right location to pre-drill the hole that way I can just pre-drill one
side spin it around do the other side and then move on through the seat slats
so now we go to the best part alright so now all the pieces are
sanded down and ready for finish.

The finish I use is a spar urethane It's an exterior
grade clear coat finish the first coat is applied just with a rag and I wipe it
on this way I can get all six sides of all the pieces before I assemble them
then after assembly I'll spray on another two coats of the spar urethane
and that will build up the finish and make it really durable this technique in
particular is really good because it gets inside all the cracks and crevices
that normally if you applied the finish after the assembly you wouldn't be able
to get to those and a lot of these services that you aren't able to reach
our end grain like the ends of the legs and where the legs connect to the sea
even with something like cedar it'll last but this will prolong the life even
further now we're on to the the good part of actually
putting these guys together all it takes is a drill and a screw gun and I use
these two inch stainless steel square drive screws to fasten everything
together except for the front legs which I use some carriage bolts so first
assembly we're gonna put together is the backs of the chairs and then we'll go
from there.

Now notice that only one side of these back slats is actually rounded
over I don't think I mentioned that during that process but you want to make
sure you have enough left hand and right hand back slats when you're rounding
over those pieces so I make sets of back slats before I round any of the
corners over so for assembly the square back support goes on the bottom
and the rounded back support goes on the top. You start by lining all the back
slats even with the bottom of the back support piece and then Center it within
that piece I start by screwing in the center slat and then work my way out
from there so next is attaching the top back
support either side of this can be the top so you want to look at it and
determine which side is going to be the show face and then put that side towards
the top of the back.

I pull the slats apart a little bit to make sure that
this back support is lined up right in the center of this hole and then I
Center all those slats together on this back and fasten the center slit in place
then are you gonna do is spread these out evenly the farthest out slat goes to
the edge here and then the rest are distributed evenly in between those so
that's the first assembly completed you can see how you get that rounded back
that really feels good when you're sitting it so the next sub-assembly to go together
are the front legs these are put together from two pieces you have the
actual front leg and then the support piece for the arms just a few the
stainless steel screws will hold it together but you want to be careful
because you need to make sure that there's equal number of left and right
hand legs together these 3 holes here are what attach the back legs to
the front legs and this single point here points toward the back of the chair
next step is to attach the back leg to the front leg with these three holes so
the assemblies put together using three of these two and a half inch galvanized
carriage bolts the front leg goes on the outside of the back leg so I start by
inserting three bolts through the front legs then it's just a matter of lining
these up and inserting them into the back leg too then you can install the
three washers and the three nuts so for now I just tighten these up as much as I
can get them with my fingers this will allow me once I get the whole
chair assembled together to have a little bit of movement to square the
legs in reference to each other and then I crank down on these tight so now
I have my tower of sub assemblies these are all ready to go together and just a
matter of fastening the backs to the legs and adding the rest of the pieces
I wanna make sure that I have my drills and screws ready because this is a very
awkward maneuver to get these together and I gave you nice wide shot so you can
see the awkwardness and all of its glory so the backside is fastened in place
with two screws in either side down into the legs so next is these back support
pieces there's two per chair one for each side and to fasten them in place
there's two pre-drilled holes and use that to line up a piece and make sure
it's tight with this back side now these are one of the pieces that I tend to
pre-drill prior to assembly because screwing into this end grain they have
a likelihood to correct so the top is all set next is fascinating the bottom
in place and since I use 2-inch screws and one-inch thick material which is
2 layers thick here I pre-drill at a slight angle to keep these from poking
out from the other side now you want this back edge to be set off three and a
half inches from the back of the leg and about 1/8" of an inch up off of the ground
so then you just copy and paste on the other side so next we turn the chair
around and all of these seat slats can be installed so first this back most
slat is fastened in place tight against the back slat next I
install this top slat here tight against the back of the front legs then these
two shorter slats are fit between the two front legs and spaced evenly away
from this previously installed slat then these five remaining slats are just
spaced evenly within the remaining space and since I'm awesome I just space these
out evenly by eye.

Now all of these seat slats are installed the last two pieces
are the arms now with Western red cedar there tends to be a pretty big variety
in color of the pieces between the light and dark brown so the two pieces I'd
always make sure that match very close are the arms because if they contrast
too much it really does look off these are simply installed with two screws
through the back support piece into the arm and then 3 screws here directly
down into the front leg back two screws are installed first and then the front
of the arm can be centered on top of the leg these 3
these are pre-drilled and then it's fastened in place you also always want
to pre-drill these back to fasteners otherwise they'll crack so the final step in the process is
applying the last few coats of finish as you saw before the first coat I just rub
on with a rag but I do three more final coats sprayed on of spar urethane an HVLP sprayer
would be ideal but any air powered sprayer will work I've all the chairs
set up on sawhorses here they are flipped upside down I do the bottom
first and then flip them up right and then I
can do 3 coats of finish on the top which is all the show surfaces and all
the surfaces that are going to be exposed to the weather
so I've just gone through and sanded all these chairs with a 400 grit sandpaper
this brings down the finish really smooth I'll do this between every coat
and then apply the next coat of finish.

I let that dry overnight before going to
the next coat. Alright so our last coat of finish is dry now just to wrap these
up we need to tighten the carriage bolts that are holding two sets of legs
together. I want to reference this against a flat surface from the flattest
service in my shop is my table saw so I'm gonna go through and set each chair
on top of my table saw and make sure there's no wobble in either direction.

there is I'll work the twist out of the chair by pushing it flat and then
tighten the carriage bolts on either leg and tightening these bolts will lock
everything in place and then we're done all done they're getting picked up in the morning
which is good because hey there thanks for watching if you
like build some of these for yourself I do have plans available on my website. And a
big thanks to Albany County Fasteners for sponsoring this build. I get basically
all of my hardware from them. They specialize in stainless steel fasteners
but they carry basically anything you'll be looking for. You can order in quantities
from single units up to bulk orders where you get some really great pricing
per unit. Like these Adirondack chairs that you just saw me built I get all my stainless
steel screws in bulk from them as well as the galvanized carriage bolts. I'm
gonna drop a link down below they just launched a brand new website last week
to make it even easier to order.

I'm sure you have some empty peanut butter
jars to fill up we'll see you next time..

As found on YouTube

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