Since I’ve been gone for a while I was really impressed that Lumberjocks started a class section on the site. I thought that was a great idea and decided I wanted to contribute. So this is what I’ve decided to do – one of the many variations of the Adirondack chair. There are quite a few sites that claim to have the true history of the Adirondack chair –but when it is all boiled down to the final summation – it’s the one chair that’s the most comfortable to sit on in the back yard. Most styles that are available fit that category – comfortable. I have done one set of plans that I found were not comfortable, but most are. The variations in looks and building components just add to the history of the chair. So off we go.
The project we’ll be doing in this online class will be the Adirondack chairs such as the ones pictured here. http://lumberjocks.com/projects/6190
The chair plans can be found at this link or they are generally available at Woodcraft.
The foot stool and table plans are separate and are available at this site.
I don’t plan to spend much time on the foot stool and table as they are very basic and once you’ve made the chair you’ll be well on your way to doing to other parts.
This project was one of the first that I tackled when I was really getting into woodworking. The first set I made I followed the plans completely, but as I made more I changed the plans. So there is your fair warning that I do not follow the plans to the letter. I’ve made probably made and given away more than 20 sets of these chairs and I’ve learned a few ways to make them easier and quicker. I gave one of these chairs to my neighbor almost 15 years ago and it’s still going strong (although she needs to repaint it!). The chairs are very comfortable, easy to make, make great gifts and wonderful projects to contribute to charity auctions. Over the years I’ve up-sized and downsized the chairs. I have a child’s chair, a regular sized chair and a large chair so basically I have three sets from one plan.
I’ve taught this class at Woodcraft 3 or 4 times and had a blast doing it. I’ve also done a blog on building the chairs on this site. Here’s the link to that blog: http://lumberjocks.com/Betsy/blog/series/399
I’ll tell you now that I plan to be more detailed in my blog this time around and I have changed a few things even from the time of that blog to this one. So even if you followed that blog you’ll learn a little bit more in this one. I hope that you will enjoy following the class and will participate with questions, comments, etc.
Your first task of course is to get the paper plans. Then you’ll need to decide what type of wood you’ll use. I’ve used pine, cedar and cypress with great success. Pine, of course, is readily available at your local big box stores, and is probably the best wood to start with because it’s already dimensioned and smooth. Spend plenty of time at the store and pick good straight boards. Pick through the whole pile if you have to, you want the straight boards that you are paying for. You’ll also need to get a 3/8” dowel rod, you won’t use the rod for what the plans call for – but you’ll use it. Also, the plans call for #8 screws – I don’t use them. I use #6 screws in 1” and 1.5” inch lengths.
Part of how I’ve changed the chair is making it so the fewest screw holes show from the front of the chair. However, I’ll cover some tips doing the chair as written in the plans and then show how I do it, which includes using a Kreg pocket hole set up. If you don’t have a Kreg or other pocket hole set up – don’t worry, you don’t really need it, I’ll go through making the chair without the Kreg as well. I’ll insert an opinion here though – if you really feel you are going to get into woodworking as a hobby a pocket hole jig is a great investment. I don’t follow the idea that using pocket holes are cheating when making cabinets or anything else. They are a means to an end and do not detract from your building skills one iota. Okay – I’ll back off my soapbox now. :-)
You’ll also need to get a 3/8” Forstner bit and a 3/8 plug cutter. If you plan to make more than one chair (and you will) you’ll want to get some ½” MDF to make patterns.
The next post will go into more detail about the wood to choose, how much to get and how to make your patterns.
Okay so get yourself ready – we’re about to have some fun making sawdust.
Oh yeah, one last thing. I’ll be introducing my new shop assistant in the next segment. I think you’ll be impressed with all the help she gives me! :-)
-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine