How to Build Your Own Adirondack Chair (2024)

Looking for a project to enhance your outdoor living space? Building your own Adirondack chair is a great way to add both comfort and style to your patio, deck, or backyard. With a few tools, some basic woodworking skills, and a bit of patience, you can create a sturdy and attractive piece of outdoor furniture that will last for years to come. In this article, we will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to build your own Adirondack chair.

The Adirondack chair is a classic outdoor chair design that has been popular for over 100 years. It was originally created in 1903 by Thomas Lee, a resident of the Adirondack Mountains in New York. Lee wanted a chair that was comfortable, durable, and would look great in the rugged mountain landscape. He created a design that featured wide armrests, a high back, and a slanted seat and backrest, which allowed for maximum comfort and relaxation.

Today, the Adirondack chair is still a popular choice for outdoor furniture, and it can be found in a variety of materials, including wood, plastic, and metal. However, if you are looking for a truly customizable option, building your own Adirondack chair is the way to go.

Tools and Materials

Before you start building your Adirondack chair, you will need to gather the necessary tools and materials. Here is a list of what you will need:

  • Circular saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Clamps
  • Sandpaper
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Safety glasses
  • Dust mask
  • Wood glue
  • Outdoor wood screws (2 1/2 inches and 3 inches)
  • Outdoor wood stain or paint
  • 2 cedar boards (1x6x8 feet)
  • 1 cedar board (1x4x8 feet)

Step-by-Step Instructions

Once you have your tools and materials, you are ready to start building your Adirondack chair. Follow these step-by-step instructions:

Step 1: Cut the Cedar Boards

Using a circular saw, cut the two 1x6 cedar boards into the following pieces:

  • 2 pieces measuring 33 inches (front legs)
  • 2 pieces measuring 22 inches (back legs)
  • 2 pieces measuring 20 inches (armrests)
  • 2 pieces measuring 24 inches (front aprons)
  • 2 pieces measuring 23 inches (back aprons)
  • 1 piece measuring 22 inches (front crosspiece)
  • 1 piece measuring 23 inches (back crosspiece)
  • 4 pieces measuring 20 inches (seat slats)
  • 3 pieces measuring 24 inches (back slats)

Using a jigsaw, cut the 1x4 cedar board into the following pieces:

  • 2 pieces measuring 19 inches (armrest braces)
  • 2 pieces measuring 17 inches (back braces)

Step 2: Sand the Wood

Sanding the wood is a crucial step in preparing it for the construction of your Adirondack chair. Not only does sanding make the wood look smoother and more polished, but it also helps to remove any rough spots or imperfections that may cause discomfort when sitting on the chair.

To start, you'll need a few sanding tools, such as sandpaper, an electric sander, and a sanding block. The grit of the sandpaper you use will depend on the type of wood you're working with and how smooth you want the final result to be. In general, a grit between 80-120 is good for rough sanding, while a grit between 150-180 is suitable for finishing.

Begin by sanding the rougher areas of the wood with the rougher grit sandpaper. Sand in the direction of the wood grain, using firm but not excessive pressure. Once the rough areas have been smoothed down, switch to the finer grit sandpaper and continue sanding until the wood feels smooth to the touch.

When using an electric sander, be sure to keep it moving at a steady pace and avoid applying too much pressure in one spot, which can cause uneven sanding. A sanding block can also be used to manually sand hard-to-reach areas or curves on the wood.

Once you're satisfied with the level of smoothness and the absence of any rough spots, wipe down the wood with a damp cloth to remove any sawdust or debris. You're now ready to move on to the next step in building your own Adirondack chair.

Step 3: Assemble the Seat

Now that the backrest is complete, it’s time to move on to the seat. First, you’ll need to assemble the seat base. Take two of the 22-inch pieces you cut earlier, and place them parallel to each other on a work surface, with the flat sides facing up and the angled sides facing each other. These pieces will form the front and back of the seat base.

Next, take two of the 19-inch pieces and place them perpendicular to the front and back pieces, with their flat sides facing down. These pieces will form the sides of the seat base. Use wood glue and screws to attach the sides to the front and back pieces.

Once the seat base is assembled, it’s time to attach the seat slats. Start by measuring the distance between the sides of the seat base. This measurement should be just slightly less than the length of the seat slats. Cut the seat slats to the appropriate length and lay them out on top of the seat base, leaving a small gap between each slat.

When you’re happy with the positioning of the slats, use wood glue and screws to attach them to the seat base. Make sure to countersink the screws so they don’t stick out above the surface of the slats.

Step 4: Attach the Backrest to the Seat

With both the backrest and seat complete, it’s time to attach them to each other.

To attach the backrest to the seat, you will need the previously cut and sanded backrest piece and the assembled seat.

Place the backrest piece on top of the seat with the bottom of the backrest facing the ground and the angled top facing upwards. Make sure the top edges of the backrest are flush with the top of the seat. Then, measure and mark the placement of the backrest on the seat. Typically, the backrest will sit about 2 inches from the back edge of the seat.

Apply a thin layer of wood glue to the bottom of the backrest piece where it will make contact with the seat. Now, carefully position the backrest piece back onto the seat, making sure to align the marks you made in the previous step. Use the drill to secure the backrest to the seat with screws. Begin by drilling a pilot hole through the seat and into the backrest piece, then insert the screws and tighten them down. Repeat this process for each screw hole.

Flip the chair over and check that the backrest is securely attached to the seat.

Congratulations, you have now successfully attached the backrest to the seat! You are almost done with building your Adirondack chair.

Step 5: Attach the Armrests

The final step is to attach the armrests to the chair. Start by cutting two pieces of wood to the same length as the front and back pieces of the seat base (22 inches). These pieces will form the front and back of the armrests.

Next, cut two more pieces of wood to the same length as the sides of the seat base (19 inches). These pieces will form the sides of the armrests. Use wood glue and screws to attach the sides of the armrests to the front and back pieces. Then, position the armrests on the sides of the chair and attach them to the backrest and seat using wood screws.

Step 6: Sand and Finish the Chair

Once the chair is fully assembled, it’s time to sand and finish it. Start by sanding all of the rough edges and surfaces with a coarse sandpaper. Then, switch to a finer grit sandpaper and sand the entire chair until it is smooth to the touch.

Next, choose a finish for the chair. You could paint it, stain it, or simply seal it with a clear coat. Whatever you choose, make sure to apply the finish in a well-ventilated area and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 7: Enjoy Your Adirondack Chair

Congratulations, you’ve completed your DIY Adirondack chair! Now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Find a nice spot in your backyard, patio or garden to place your new chair. Take a seat and relax while enjoying the beautiful outdoor scenery. You may want to add some cushions or pillows to make it even more comfortable.

Remember that you can always customize your Adirondack chair by painting it or staining it to match your outdoor decor. You can also experiment with different types of wood or even add some accessories, such as a cup holder or a footrest.

Finally, don't forget to take care of your new outdoor furniture. Regularly clean it with a mild soap and water solution and protect it from harsh weather conditions by covering it with a waterproof cover when not in use.

Building your own Adirondack chair is a fun and rewarding DIY project that can be completed over the course of a weekend. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can create a comfortable and attractive piece of outdoor furniture that will last for years to come.

Remember to take your time and use caution when working with power tools and sharp objects. Always wear protective gear, such as safety glasses and gloves, to prevent injury.

Once you've built your Adirondack chair, you can customize it to your liking with paint or stain. You can also add cushions or pillows for extra comfort. Not only will you have a beautiful new piece of furniture for your outdoor space, but you'll also have the satisfaction of knowing that you built it yourself. So, gather your materials, get to work, and enjoy the process of building your own Adirondack chair.

How to Build Your Own Adirondack Chair (2024)


Is it cheaper to build or buy Adirondack chairs? ›

One chair's worth of materials costs around $100, whereas buying materials for two chairs cuts the cost per chair by about 20%. If you want to build two, here is an updated list of the lumber needed.

How hard is it to build an Adirondack chair? ›

Building an Adirondack chair is a fairly simple project. It doesn't demand a lot of time and is easy on the budget. You'll have such a good time building one that you'll feel compelled to make a pair. All the free Adirondack chair plans include everything you need to build your very own Adirondack chair.

What kind of wood should I use for Adirondack chairs? ›

When choosing an Adirondack chair, you should look for one made of teak, cedar, or yellow pine. These are the top three best kinds of wood for Adirondack chairs. Each type of wood is strong, durable, and resistant to weather and insects.

How much wood is needed to build an Adirondack chair? ›

Thinking about building a pair of these in a design I did from a photo. The wood required includes 5/4 and 4/4 stock, and I'm thinking of either western red cedar or Alaskan yellow cedar. The lumber tally comes to about 25 board feet per chair.

What are the cons of Adirondack chairs? ›

Adirondack chairs can be comfortable for most, but the sloping seat may be uncomfortable for longer legs, or you may not be able to relax if you have to sit back farther than expected. Know your own comfort capabilities so you can choose a chair that is supportive and works best for your age, conditions, and body type.

Why is Polywood so expensive? ›

Polywood is expensive mainly because HDPE is a dense, high-quality plastic. Also, Polywood furniture is made in a fashion similar to wood furniture - it's made of poly lumber held together with metal bolts and screws. It's not like cheap, one-piece plastic furniture made from a mold.

What is the best material to make Adirondack chairs out of? ›

Material. Although traditionally made from wood, you can find Adirondack chairs made from thick, weather-resistant plastic, like the Polywood Grant Park Traditional Curveback Plastic Patio Adirondack Chair(our best overall pick).

Are Adirondack chairs bad on the back? ›

The contoured seats and angled backrests of Adirondack chairs offer excellent lumbar support, allowing you to sink into a state of pure relaxation.

What is so special about the Adirondack chair? ›

The armrests are usually flat, wide boards, perpendicular to the front legs. Thanks to its sloped seat, the Adirondack chair is designed for lounging and napping (read: not working/studying). Today, it epitomizes comfort and is often the symbol used to convey ideas like 'vacation,' simplicity' and 'peacefulness.

How long do wooden Adirondack chairs last? ›

Read more about this subject in an article published last month, How Much Do Wood Adirondack Chairs Cost?: Wood vs Composite (On Amazon). With this product, you are paying for quality, and unlike plastic adirondack chairs, wooden chairs will last you almost a lifetime if kept properly.

Can I use pine for Adirondack chairs? ›

Knotted white pine is an excellent choice for those looking for a more economical option for their outdoor Adirondack chairs and furniture. Although pine lacks the weather-resistant qualities of cedar, it performs well when sealed and maintained on a regular basis.

Can Adirondack chairs stay out all winter? ›

While these chairs are built to withstand outdoor conditions, prolonged exposure to harsh winter weather, including heavy snow and freezing temperatures, may take a toll over time. Storing them in a shed, garage, or under a covered patio can help prolong their life and keep them looking pristine.

What is a grandpa Adirondack chair? ›

Introduction: Grandpa Adirondack Chair

The seat is shorter, the back is more upright, but still allows you to rest your head and have a snooze. After testing out the first version with a group of poker buddies, it was a consensus that it needed to be wider as well, for us older pirates, with sunken chests !

Can you make an Adirondack chair out of plywood? ›

Making Adirondack Chairs From Plywood General Woodworking

Although I made these chairs from plywood, they can also be made from your choice of solid wood. Just a thin strip of hardwood bent into a bow. These curves and the overall shape of the parts don't have to be perfect – they just need to look good.

How thick should Adirondack chairs be? ›

Introduction: Adirondack Chair

Although there are a few angles and curves to cut, there's actually no fancy joinery --everything's held together with deck screws. We used cedar for these pieces because it stands up well to the elements, and it's available in the required 3/4- and 1-in. thicknesses.

Is it still cheaper to build than buy? ›

The Golden State is the second-most cost-effective state for home building in the United States, trailing only Hawaii. Yardi's data estimates that it could be more than $200,000 cheaper to build a home from the ground up, rather than purchase one that's already standing.

Is it cheaper to build than buy now? ›

There might be a way to skirt the traditional path to homeownership here, and that's building a home. Building may be, in fact, cheaper in California than buying but the location can make or break the deal in terms of savings.

What is the most expensive part of building your own home? ›

Foundation – The Bedrock of Construction

When discussing the most expensive part of building a house, it all begins with the foundation. The foundation acts as the bedrock on which the entire structure rests. Depending on the type of foundation chosen, costs can escalate significantly.

Is it really cheaper to build up? ›

Building up is always the least expensive option for increasing your home's square-footage because it requires less material and labor. For example, if you have 1,000 sq. feet on the main level and want to add 1,000 sq. feet as a second floor, all you have to do is add more wood and framing labor.


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