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Adirondack Chair Class #2: First things first

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Blog entry by Betsy posted 951 days ago 3980 reads 4 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Introduction Part 2 of Adirondack Chair Class series Part 3: Buying lumber and supplies »

The chair for this class was designed by Wood Plan and brought to you by the editors of Wood Magazine. I’d like to think of this class as the BASF of these plans. “I don’t make the plans … I make them better.” Okay I’m tooting my horn just a little. But we will make some improvements on the plans and hopefully you’ll come out with a much better chair.

Cedar or cypress are much better woods to use for Adirondack chairs because neither one requires any special coatings to last a lifetime. However, both are much more expensive than pine and, therefore, pine is the better choice of wood to make your first attempt at this chair. Once you get the hang of making the furniture, buy the good stuff. Because pine is not “weatherproof” to make sure the chairs are around for a while you will have to come to grips with the fact that you’ll have to paint and/or stain the chairs with exterior grade paint or stain.

There are five things I do differently than the plans call for. 1) I use templates instead of just the paper patterns; 2) I use dowel pins in the chair and the footstool legs; 3) I do not put screws through the front of the best rest; 4) I put the project together in a different order; and 5) the front of my chair has a bit of a different look that the original plans.

I make and use templates for the chairs because it’s a simple matter to make one part well then copy it. The template can then be used for more than one chair. In reality who wants just one chair and you don’t want to reinvent the wheel each time you want to make something. Therefore, for this project and any project like it, plan to make templates for the major parts.

Dowel pins are used in place of screws at the largest stress points in the chair and footstool. Those points are in the legs. It’s a proven fact that a wood on wood glue joint is stronger and will last longer than a joint glued and secured with a screw. The dowel costs a fraction more than a screw and takes a bit more precision in placement, but it’s worth the effort in the long run.

None of the chairs I made using screws at these points are still around. I have many chairs that I’ve made with the dowel pins that are well over 10 years old. So I’ll stick with the dowel pins. Also you’ll see in the picture above that the dowel pins are end grain. Well I’ve made a change in how I insert the pins and I think you’ll like the look better.

Okay this gives you just a little bit of what’s ahead. I hope you have all gotten your plans ordered or purchased.

Next up I’ll go over the plans, the templates, and how I choose my lumber.

My plan for this class is to break it down into small parts. I plan to do this for several reasons. One reason is I want to take a little extra time to explain things that were never explained to me and that I had to figure out as I went. Secondly, I will be taking it slow because I plan to build the chair with you and that entails taking the pictures and trying to be as detailed as I can to help you along to a successful build. And finally, I will be going slower because I’m just a whole lot slower moving these days than I used to be, so I hope you will stick with me and follow along. If there is ever anything I say or do that you have questions about, please feel free to ask. Similarly, if there is anything I say or do that you don’t agree with – speak up. I’m always open to someone else’s opinion.

I promised to introduce you to me new shop assistant. But she’s being camera shy. She knows when I get out the camera – I try to get her to pose – but she’ll have none of it. So maybe next time you’ll get to see her. She’s quite the find.

-- Like a bad penny, I keep coming back!



1 comment so far

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tctaylor79

44 posts in 1191 days


#1 posted 950 days ago

Betsy, great write up and thanks for helping the LJ community! I’m looking forward to the rest of your posts on Adk chairs. I’ve had a lot of luck, so far, with hardware on my chairs, but I’m intrigued at the idea of using dowels and plugs. It’s going to be a simple way to add subtle detail to a classic outdoor chair.

-- Tim Taylor - GLT Woodworks

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