Adirondack Chair build how to - Betsy's version #2: Adirondack chair - third day of build

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Blog entry by Betsy posted 12-04-2007 05:28 AM 4085 reads 2 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Day one - prep day Part 2 of Adirondack Chair build how to - Betsy's version series Part 3: Today is preping to make the seat assembly - chisel question - »

Well today is a short evening in the shop. Just enough time to do the front legs and get the leg assembly glued up.

First I thought I’d show you a small check on one end of a board. There are obvious reasons to avoid check, but I thought I’d show you that even someone with very little hand strength can break a board if they have a check they can cheat with.

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Ok – back to the legs.

The front legs are 19 3/4” high
5 3/8” across the top
2 1/8” across the bottom

The legs are made from a 1×6. I’m careful to work around any knots and plan ahead for where my dowel holes are going to go. I generally mark out the shape and mark the waste portion of the board before I start cutting so I don’t have to think about it when I start actually cutting at the table saw.

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For safety reasons I rough cut the boards to close to my finished size and then finish cut on the table saw using my miter gauge and a stop block. Forgot to take a picture of this, but I’m sure you can use your imagination.

To cut the tapers I make a “down and dirty” taper jig. When I was making a lot of these I had a dedicated taper jig – but it has long sense bit the dust so I’ve made a quick one. I used my template as a guide. This jig is simply a scrap piece of mdf with a stop block at the top and one on the side. I placed my template on the board so that the edge was against the edge of my scrap and used that to place the hold pieces. I then put on a toggle clamp to hold the board down through the cut. The toggle clamp is probably not 100% necessary and I’m sure some folks would not bother. But it only took about 2 minutes to screw to the jig, and being in no hurry I went with a touch more safety.

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Next I set the fence so that the edge of the jig just moves past the blade. As the jig is passed by the blade the taper is cut. I’m not concerned about wood movement at this point because the wood is trapped with the edge pieces and the toggle – so I did not use my short fence for this.

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Once the taper is cut, I mark my positions for the dowel pins. This is simple enough. I clamp my template to the workpiece and go back to my Forstener bit and give it a good whack to mark it. This gives me a good mark to drill with.

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One caveat – the holes at the top of the leg jig do not go all the way through the workpiece. So while I have them drilled out with a 3/8 bit on my template, I do NOT drill them out. I simply do a light mark with my Forstener bit – just enough to put a small mark. I then go back and use a 3/32nd bit to drill a pilot hole. This portion of the leg is used to attach the arm support.

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After all the holes are marked I drill them out and get ready to glue up the leg assembly.

The glue is where you have to start thinking about left and right sides. The front legs go on the outside of the leg support. If you are not careful you can end up with 2 left or right legs.

Each leg assembly takes three dowel pins. Each pin is cut a shade longer than 1 1/2” long. (two 3/4” pieces add up to 1 1/2 – aint I smart!). You can cut these two different ways. On the bandsaw or by hand with a bench hook.

If you use the band saw use a piece of scrap set just before your blade and placed a smidge more than 1 1/2” from the blade. Having the scrap set before the blade will allow the dowel to fall to the side when it’s cut and won’t jam between the fence and blade. It also keeps the dowel from shooting across the shop through the physics of it.

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Since I only need 12 dowels for the 4 assemblies I chose to use my bench hook to hand cut the dowels. It was fast, clean, almost noiseless and actually pretty relaxing to cut them this way.

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As I said before you have to be careful of the left and right thing. I generally set up my leg assemblies as I intend for them to be glued so that I don’t have to worry about it as I start gluing. Be generous with the glue and put glue on both the leg support and the front leg and onto the dowel pin. I put in one pin and use it as a pivot to line up the other two holes. I then clamp as tight as I can. I make sure that my dowels have gone all the way through the back piece. The extra length will be cut off later.

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That’s it for tonight. I’ll start on making the slats tomorrow so I can get the seat assembly started. Hope this blog is helpful to anyone else who wants to make these chairs. It really is a pretty easy project.

As always, any suggestions are welcome.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

6 comments so far

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4134 days

#1 posted 12-04-2007 07:56 AM

Betsy -

Wow! You just keep this stuff coming and I will be happy! Great blog and wonderful photos. Don’t forget to remove the price tag from your lumber! LOL



View cajunpen's profile


14575 posts in 4061 days

#2 posted 12-04-2007 11:36 AM

Very nice blog Betsy – you are one prolific woodworker. Your work on this chair is very interesting, I’m anxious to see the finished project. Will you paint or varnish?

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3934 days

#3 posted 12-04-2007 12:33 PM

Keep it coming Betsy. I like the detail and pictures. I really like pictures.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3891 days

#4 posted 12-04-2007 04:07 PM

Thanks guys.

Cajun – this particular set of chairs will be painted. Which is a good thing as you can see in the last photo I was not to careful with the glue smearing. I’d have been more careful had I been using cedar or cypress – I promise!

David——opps, good thing that tag was on scrap wood – the tag will burn in my fireplace just fine!

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View Karson's profile


35120 posts in 4396 days

#5 posted 12-04-2007 05:15 PM

Great Betsy. Keep feeding us all of the activities on this chair.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Bren's profile


35 posts in 3870 days

#6 posted 01-05-2008 11:48 PM

I am enoying your blog. Looking forward to the next installment.
I have made some adirondack chairs as well. Where you use the dowels I have used bolts. I really like your dowel idea better. They would be cheaper than the bolts, washers, and nuts plus they won’t ever rust or stain the wood. I see you glued the boards as well as used dowels. I wonder, will wood movement be a problem where the boards are glued together?

-- Bren Hartman, Battle Creek, Michigan

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