Saturday Morning Workshop: How To Build A Folding Adirondack Chair
Start relaxing at your happy place and make this folding version of the classic outdoor lounge chair in one day.
A half day
IntroductionYou’ve fled the office for your special retreat. You change into your comfiest clothes, grab a long book and a tall drink, find a spot with a view and a breeze, and slide into a spacious, comfortable chair. The chair? It’s an Adirondack chair, of course. Our version is designed for maximum comfort. It has a deep seat with a rounded front edge, spacious arms, and a curved, laid-back back. When summer’s gone, fold up the chair for easy moving and storage. You can build these chairs from a variety of wood species. If your chair will live outdoors, redwood, cedar, white oak or Philippine mahogany would be good choices. They can be left unfinished to weather naturally, or given a clear preservative finish. I built mine with cedar, which is lightweight, readily available and moderately priced.
- #8 Combination Countersink/Drill Bit
- 5/8-in. spade bit
- Belt sander
- Miter saw
- Table saw
- 1/4 in. nylon nut
- 1/4 in. washer
- 1/4 in. x 3 in. hanger bolt
- 1x6 Board
- 3/8 in. nylon nut
- 3/8 in. washer
- 3/8 in. x 1-3/4 in. carriage bolt
- 5/8 in. dowel
What It Takes
- Time: 5 hours
- Cost: $80
- Skill level: Intermediate to advanced
Project step-by-step (11)
Crosscut and rip boards to length
- Crosscut and rip the 1x8's to finished size for the arms (B)
- Crosscut the 1x6's to the other lengths given in the cutting list and rip to width
Mark and drill the bolt holes
Mark and drill the 7/16-in. bolt clearance holes on middle brace (K), bottom brace (L), arm supports (M), hinge bars (N) & legs (C) only, as shown in the tech art illustrations. Gang up any like boards for consistent hole locations. You'll drill the remaining clearance holes later.
Draw and cut out the curved boards
Following the tech art (fig. 1 and 3), draw the arcs and shapes on the seat supports (A), arm rests (B), legs (C), arm braces (D), back slats (F, G, H), middle brace (K), bottom brace (L), and arm supports (M). Make templates using the grid shown, if you like. Cut the pieces just outside the line with a jigsaw. For matching parts, use the first board as a template, tracing it onto the other blank.
Sand to finished size
Sand up to the line with a belt sander or sanding block. Clamp like boards together [such as the back slats (F, G, H)] to get the same arcs.
Attach the back slats to the braces
Drill pilot holes into the ends of the middle brace (K) and bottom brace (L), and then screw in the hanger bolts. Tighten two nuts against each other on the hanger bolts to make a "head" on the bolt, making it easy to drive. Evenly space the back slats (F, G, H) along the bottom brace. Drill countersink clearance holes through the slats and pilot holes into the brace, to avoid splitting. Fasten the slats with 1-1/2 in. screws. Mark a line 10-in. from the bottom brace on all the back slats. Mount the middle brace to the back slats at this line, just as you attached the other brace.
Assemble the chair
Attach the seat spacer (O) 6-in. from the back end of the seat supports (A). Fasten the seat slats (E) to the seat supports (A) with 2 in. screws, starting with the front slat. Be sure to locate the second and third slats on the flat surfaces of the seat supports.
Assemble the arms
Glue and screw the arm rests (B) to the arm supports (M) (use waterproof glue, such as Titebond III). The arm rest overhangs the support 1-in. relief on the inside of the arm. Mount the small arm braces (P) with glue and 2-in. screws, 6-in. from the ends of the arm support.
Assemble the legs
Mark a line 1/8-in. from the top of the arm braces (D) (see fig. 3). Clamp and fasten the arm braces to the legs (C) with 2-in. screws.
Attach the hinge bars to the seat
Clamp the hinge bars (N) to the seat supports (A) and drill the 7/16-in. clearance hole from the hinge bar into the support. Fasten the hinge bars (N) to the seat supports (A) with a 1-1/2 in. carriage bolt and washer in between the two parts. Fasten the bottom brace (L) to the hinge bar via the hanger bolts, washers and nuts.
Fasten the arms and legs to the assembly
Attach the arm supports (M) to the middle brace (K) with washers and 1/4-in. nuts. Clamp the legs to the seat supports (A) (see fig. 3 for placement) and check them for square. Drill the mating holes from the legs to the seat supports and fasten with 3/8-in. x 1-3/4 in. carriage bolts, nuts, washers and the 5/8-in. diameter dowels. Clamp the arm supports to the legs so that the arms are level. Match the 7/16-in. hole from the legs to the arm supports and fasten them with 3/8-in. carriage bolts, washers and nuts.
Attach the seat spacer
Take one of the leftover 2-1/2 in.-wide boards, scribe the length from the inside of the legs, and cut to length. Set the front brace on a piece of 1x, to keep it off the ground, and attach the seat spacer (J) with 2-in. screws.