How to Build an Adirondack Chair
There’s nothing nicer, especially when we transition out of winter, into sprightly spring and onwards towards enjoying those balmy summer nights, than taking dining and evening catch-ups outdoors. If you are lucky enough to have a home with a yard, patio or decking, then it’s one of life’s simple pleasures – having friends over for an outdoor get together.
If your current garden furniture is looking a little bit woeful and you don’t have the budget this year to invest in a whole new set of furniture, you might be considering a bit of DIY! Who can blame you? Many patio furniture sets come with eye-watering price tags and if you are handy with a hammer and like to get creative, then testing those skills out and learning how to build an Adirondack chair this year, might be the perfect challenge for you.
If so, then you are very much in the right place as we’re going to help you with your next DIY project by taking a look at how to build an Adirondack chair which you and your family can enjoy in style and comfort this year for a fraction of the cost.
How to Build an Adirondack Chair
Before you get started, you’re going to need to gather together some essential equipment. You could go online and take a look at the various YouTube ‘how to’ videos if you need a handy visual reference point or search for a free assembly plan. However, we’re going to run you through how to build your own classically styled Adirondack chair today, one that will look graceful and stylish on your deck but which will also provide a comfortable seated position for leisurely summer lounging.
We recommend you take a weekend out of your busy schedule to complete this DIY project; we rate the build complexity as moderate. In terms of the required budget, this homemade Adirondack chair will cost $100 upwards.
What You Will Need
Save yourself time and frustration by gathering together all your essential tools and materials before you get started. Here’s what we recommend you line up. You may be able to beg, steal or borrow some of the more professional tools if they’re not items your own workshop has. Traditional Adirondack chairs are usually painted, but you can, of course, use a clear outdoor deck finish if you prefer. We’ll leave the choice of color down to you to decide, but we personally think that high white gloss is timeless and attractive in any garden setting.
- Paint roller and brushes
- Paint tray
- Safety goggles
- Tape measure
- Waterproof wood glue
- Wood of your choice
- Galvanized deck or wood screws
- Exterior oil primer
- Weatherproof oil gloss enamel paint
Be Sure To Choose the Right Wood for the Project
The wood you go for will be a function of budget and also what’s readily available where you live. Of course, the most important thing is to choose something that is hardy and durable. We recommend something like a poplar which is lightweight to work with, yet durable and reliable plus its relatively inexpensive but also a breeze to paint and produce an expert finish. Other woods that you might also consider are alder, aspen, maple and oak which all make excellent hardwood recommendations.
You could go for a softwood but in our opinion, for this kind of outdoor Adirondack chair, especially if you want to recreate that authentic and timeless looking result, then hardwood is preferable. If you do intend keeping your chair outdoors, it’s also recommended that you treat your wood with a preservative before you go ahead and paint it.
Step by Step instructions on How to Build an Adirondack Chair
Here is our basic step by step instructions on how to go about building your own Adirondack chair. If you are at all in doubt about any measurements, grab yourself a detailed guide, complete with a cutting list.
- Cut your curves for the arm and leg pieces
Draw out full-size grids of your arms and leg pieces and cut these out preferably with a jigsaw so that you can achieve those lovely curved angles. The left arms and left legs should be mirror images of the right ones.
- Cut the tapered back pieces
You will need a saw, ideally a circular one, to cut out the tricky rear sections of your chair. Again, it’s best to draw out and trace your design on the wood before you get started to ensure precise results.
- Assemble the back
We recommend you use ¼-inch spaces for your back slats and screw these against the horizontal back supports. Predrill and countersink those holes and ensure that you use a weatherproof glue if you intend using your chair outdoors. Ensure that your back slats and that horizontal support form a framing square and are positioned at 90 degrees to each other before you go ahead and glue and screw them securely together.
- Screw the chair frame together on a level, flat surface
Now for the fun part. Assembling all your sections together, gluing, screwing and securely supporting together. You may find it useful to tighten everything in place with hand screwdriver just to be sure that all your joints are secure.
- Finally, sand, protect and paint
Once your chair is fully assembled, we recommend that you thoroughly sand it down first so that it is smooth to the touch. No one wants to sit down on what they think is going to be a super comfortable homemade chair to find they get a splinter somewhere they don’t want one! Once you’ve sanded the entire chair, wipe away any residue or dust before you seal, protect and paint.
We recommend you use an oil-based exterior primer as well as an enamel top coat. You can, of course, use water-based products, but if you want a more durable and weatherproof finish, then oil base will deliver a better result.
Apply your weatherproof coating first and then prime your chair. You’re going to need both a paintbrush as well as a paint roller to do a decent and consistent job, being sure to get into all the nooks and crannies and thoroughly coating the front and back, top as well as underneath of your chair. It’s best to then let the primer dry overnight before you move on the next day to apply your topcoat.
Using a paint scraper, first, remove any runs of primer that you can see and give your chair another very light sand before you move on to applying your chosen topcoat. Just as you did the primer, work consistently and methodically, slowly and precisely to ensure full and even coverage. Oil-based paint can get sticky so don’t rush. Take your time to ensure a professional looking result.
It's advisable that you leave your chair to dry for a minimum of three days before you sit down, relax and enjoy the fruits of your creative labor. Now you can sit down and relax!