How to Build a DIY Adirondack Chair
If you've ever enjoyed sitting back in a low-slung Adirondack chair, you know just how comfortable they are. The chair's broad arms are flat and big enough for a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, or a phone or a book.
Adirondack chairs are relatively easy to make, too. Simply use wood screws and dimensional lumber found at your local home center. Make two Adirondack chairs while you're at it. It saves time, since you just need to duplicate cuts on a second piece of wood.
Before You Begin
If you'd like the natural wood look for your chair, purchase cedar. For a painted DIY Adirondack chair, purchase pine. Though cedar weathers to an attractive silver-gray tone, it splinters easily. So, apply two to three coats of clear polyurethane wood sealer.
Use exterior-grade latex paint in semi-gloss or gloss if you decide to paint the chair.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Electric miter saw
- Drill bits and drivers
- Tape measure
- Painter's tape (optional)
- Electric sander or foam manual sander
- 2 two-by-sixes, 8-foot
- 2 two-by-fours, 8-foot
- 2 one-by-sixes, 8-foot
- 2 one-by-twos, 8-foot
- Deck screws, 2-inch and 3-inch
Cut Back Legs
Cut two pieces of two-by-six, each piece 34 1/2 inches long. At one end, mark a point 2 inches from that end. On the parallel side of the board, make a similar mark 6 inches from the end. Use the circular saw to cut from one mark to the next. Repeat with the other board.
Build Seat Frame
Cut a two-by-six to 21 inches long as the front of the seat frame. Cut a two-by-four to 18 inches as the back of the seat frame.
The back legs cut in the previous step form the two sides of the seat. The angled part of each back leg will face downward and rest on the ground. Assemble the seat frame as a four-sided box:
- The angled two-by-sixes as the sides of the seat frame
- The 21-inch two-by-six attached to the front of the angled two-by-sixes
- The 18-inch two-by-four in back, between the angled back legs
Cut and Attach Seat Slats
- Cut three one-by-sixes to 20 1/4 inches
- Cut two one-by-twos to 20 1/4 inches
Attach the seat slats to the seat frame, alternating widths: a one-by-six, then a one-by-two, then a one-by-six, and so on. Position the slats so they run from front to back of the chair, not sideways.
The seat slats should be flush with the front of the seat frame, to allow a gap in the back for the insertion of the seat slats.
Cut and Attach Back Slats
Cut three one-by-sixes to 40 inches. Slip the slats into the gap in back of the seat. From underneath the seat, attach the back slats to the 18-inch back of the seat frame. Space the back slats by 3/4 inch.
Cut and Attach Upper Seat Slat Brace
Cut a one-by-two to 18 inches long. Attach this board horizontally to the upper back of the seat slats as a brace. Measure down about 14 inches from the top of the seat slats and attach at that point.
Cut Leg/Arm Assembly Pieces
The two front legs, two arms, and one lower seat brace need to be assembled as a single unit since they are interdependent.
- Front Legs: Cut two two-by-fours to 23 inches long
- Arms: Cut two one-by-sixes to 28 inches long
- Lower Seat Brace: Cut one two-by-four to 24 inches long
Build Leg/Arm Assembly
With the jigsaw, round off one of the ends of each of the front legs. Leave the other end square.
Attach the square ends of the front legs underneath the 28-inch one-by-six arms. At the back of the arms, attach the 24-inch two-by-four underneath the arms.
You should now have a U-shaped assembly (the two arms attached to the back brace) with two legs protruding downward from the ends of the U-shape.
Attach Leg/Arm Assembly
Tilt the seat assembly up in front until the back leg angles fully touch the ground. Add scrap wood under the front to hold it firmly in place.
Slip the leg/arm assembly over the seat back. The back brace should meet the back of the seat slats, and the rounded feet of the front legs should touch the ground.
Attach the assembly at the back seat slats, driving a screw at each slat. Also attach the assembly with several screws where the front legs touch the seat frame. Remove the bracing blocks.
Make Decorative Cuts on Chair
Adirondack chairs typically are rounded-off in key points for safety and to give the chairs their distinctive look. With the chair now fully assembled, use the jigsaw to:
- Cut a large curve into the top of the seat back.
- Cut 1/2-radius curves into the fronts of the arms.
- Angle the backs of the arms with long, 8-inch cuts.
- Angle the tops of the back legs to match the bottom, ground-facing angles.
Use the oscillating sander or a foam block manual sander to smooth down all 90-degree angles on the arms, top of the seat back, and front of the seat slats.