Adirondack Chair Class #5: Making leg support (part G) and making leg assembly

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Blog entry by Betsy posted 01-01-2012 09:04 PM 4151 reads 3 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Templates and Front Leg Support Part 5 of Adirondack Chair Class series Part 6: Getting started with making slats - a short and easy lesson »

Now onto the leg support and assembly of the legs. This was a difficult piece to write so please read through it and if you have any questions please ask. I apologize in advance for some of the poor photography.

To make the template for the leg support (part G) you must necessarily cut off the part of the pattern which shows where the individual slats must be placed. While it would be helpful to transfer those lines down onto the pattern itself it is not absolutely necessary with the exception of one line. That line is the location of the slat that butts up against the back support. This is the one critical slat that, if placed correctly, will allow all other slats to be placed correctly as well.

I’ve taken a picture of the location on the pattern where I want you to be certain to draw your line and it also shows the two screw locations that you will have to mark which will be where the back assembly will attach to the seat assembly.

This next shot shows where I have drawn my line and have circled the two screw locations.

(I will say here if you managed to get hold of an old version of these plans the line for the back slat will already be on the pattern – but in all probability you have the latest version which does not show the line – which I believe is a mistake on the plan maker’s part.)

Additionally, don’t throw out the slat location pattern as you can always use it for a reference. With all that said, cut out the paper pattern and use spray adhesive to attach it to the MDF. Use the long edge of the factory cut MDF to make the long edge of your pattern. Use the band saw and cut the leg support out and sand it to the line of the pattern.

When sanding to the line be careful not to round off the edge of the pattern where the first seat slat goes. Additionally, be especially careful to keep your lines straight along the front edge.

If you have a chop saw you can use it to cut two of the three front angles which will help you avoid sanding them anything but flat. Using my current pattern my two angles came up to 17 degrees and 36 degrees, but use your paper pattern as a guide.

CAUTIONARY NOTE – if you decide to use your chop saw to do this be sure to have the long edge of the pattern against the fence.

Okay so now you have your pattern attached to the MDF and cut out. One simple thing to do here is to use your 3/32nd drill bit and drill the location holes for your back support. Because the pattern will be used for both the left and right legs do not countersink these holes – just do the 3/32nd hole for now.

You have a critical decision to make now. Do you want your seat slats to be set back from the front of the leg or do you want the slats to be flush with the front of the leg? I personally think it looks better flush – but you’ll have to make your call on this one. Either way the next procedure will be the same.

Take a look at the side section view of your plans. You will notice that the top most portion of the leg support (part G) is 12 ¾” from the bottom of the front leg (part I). Add the thickness of the seat slat and the total height is 13 ½”.

The easiest way to get your pattern for part I and G to match is to use the holes that you’ve already drilled into part I to locate the holes for part G.

What I did was to measure up from the bottom of part I 12 ¾” and then 13 ¼” draw lines at those two measurements. Then because I want my slats flush with the front of my leg I draw a third line ¾” in from the front of the leg. This gives me the location of where part G will go.

Next use your table saw’s fence as a holder and clamp part I to it. Use a good square and make sure that the leg is 90 degrees from the table top.

Next use a small clamp to attach the leg support (part G) to the front leg.

You’ll have to fiddle with the location, but get part G to line up with your measurement marks and then tighten down on the clamp to secure it in position.

Once secure add two more clamps. Be sure when placing your clamps that you do not cover over the holes in part I – you’ll need to be able to see those.

Take the assembly off of the fence and use the 3/8” Forstner bit to locate the drill locations onto part G. (Recall how you did this for the front leg pattern.)

Finally take the assembly apart and using the drill press drill the three holes through your template material. Be sure to use a backer board to prevent blowout on the back of your template.

At this point you now have the seat assembly patterns done.

To confirm your locations use three short dowels and join your two patterns together – they should line up and the front leg should be square to the top of your table. All should be well and you can go forward and make your two leg supports.

Cut two 38” pieces of 1×6 for the leg supports. Trim off just barely enough off one edge to make it square (taking off the factory edges which are not always without some flaw).

LEARNING POINT – When deciding what end to cut from try to avoid any knots. You can see in the picture below that my first 38” piece measured from one end would put me cutting through some knots.

I measured from the other end of my board and was able to incorporate those knots into a portion of the leg support that it would not interfere with.

Once you have your two 38” pieces, use your pattern to set the table saw fence to cut the width of the leg support.

Once both pieces are cut to width – tape the two pieces together securely with carpet tape. Make sure that the bottom edges match perfectly.

LEARNING POINT – those same knots that I worked around you should now be put to the bottom of your leg support. This will keep you from having to potentially cut through them.

Next lay your pattern onto the stack and secure it by either taping it or clamping it. Again, make sure that the bottom edges match perfectly. Use your Forstner bit to tap the locations of the dowel pins and also drill the 3/32” holes for the location of the back support. (Your drill bit will not go all the way through the stack but that’s okay – drive it as far as you can – it will go through the first piece and part way into the second giving you your location.)

Now you have a decision to make, do you want to leave the pattern on the stack and cut the stack at the band saw or do you want to use the template to draw the lines and then cut at the band saw. Personally, I draw the lines and cut at the band saw, this keeps me from cutting into my pattern.

If you used your chop saw to make your pattern piece you can also use it to cut the actual parts, this helps a lot but is not 100% necessary. If you don’t have a chop saw, just follow the lines the best you can.
I usually try to cut about 1/8” or less away from the line. Once you have cut the pieces leave them taped together and sand to your pattern line. Keeping the parts together insures that they will be perfectly matched. If you are making more than one chair be sure to mark each set as “A” or “B” so that the perfect matches stay together.

Once sanded take the stack to the drill press and drill the three dowel holes for the front legs.

CAUTIONARY NOTE: – if you have a small drill press table as I do, you must fashion some type of support for the part of the stack that is not on the table. Not doing so will require you to hold the piece down with one hand much too close to the drill bit.

Once you are set up drill the three dowel holes while the stack is still together.

Next take your 3/32nd bit and finish drilling through the stack using a backer board at the location for the back assembly.

Because you have both a left and right leg – you can also drill the countersink holes for the location of the back assembly while the stack is still together.

CAUTIONARY NOTE – this hole is not a through hole. So drill one side deep enough to allow your screw to go in and to allow a face-grain plug to be installed.

Finally use a square and mark the line from your pattern on to the work pieces showing where the first slat is placed.

Once that is done you can now take your stack apart and remove the carpet tape.

You are almost ready to put your front leg (part I) and leg support (part G) together.

On part I – the front leg you will recall we drilled a 3/32nd hole through each piece. This hole will give you the location to drill a countersink hole for your screws that will attach the arm support (part J).

CAUTIONARY NOTE – you still must remember you have a left and right leg. The countersink hole goes on the INSIDE of the front leg support for each leg assembly.

Now you need six small dowel rods cut to 1 ¼” long. There are several ways to do this. One would be using a small cutting jig that you can hand saw the pieces from.

The second way is to use the band saw. I use the band saw simply because it’s quicker and easier on my hands.

To use the band saw method you’ll need a stop block, any square scrape will do. Measure from the blade out 1 1/2” and place the block (with carpet tape) IN FRONT of the blade. Next, place your dowel rod against the stop block and roll the rod through the blade.

(Yes – my band saw insert is chewed up from not having my saw properly set and tuned – I’ve just never replaced it – it looks bad – but still works.)

CAUTIONARY NOTES: DO NOT attempt to cut these small pieces on the chop saw – they will fly all over the shop and pose a hazard. Additionally, be sure that the stop block is in front of the band saw blade or you will also get shooting pieces. As you roll the rod through the blade the pieces should go to the side and away from the blade.

You’ll need to cut six dowels for the legs – but cut one extra to use as a punch dowel.

Now on to the actual assembly. You will note in the plans that you are directed to add the seat slats before adding the front leg assembly (part I). I do not do this. Because I use dowels to attach part I and part G it’s difficult to have the slats already attached to part G.

CAUTIONARY NOTE – the front leg (part I) goes on the OUTSIDE of the leg support (part G). Make sure that your parts are correctly cut and drilled before moving on to the gluing stage.

Once you are certain that you have both a left and right assembly you can begin the process of gluing and doweling the pieces together. Spread a small amount of glue on both inside portions of the two pieces just around the three holes.

Using a scrap piece of wood as a pallet – roll a dowel pin through the glue and place it into the dowel hole on the leg. The first dowel placement will give you a pivot point to move the piece into alignment for the other two dowels. Place all three dowels with the glue and hammer them down flush with the outside portion of the front leg (part I).

Next use that seventh dowel pieces as a punch – and hammer that on top of the three dowels pushing them down onto the assembly table. This will make the dowel flush with the inside portion of the leg support (part G) and will give you enough of a hole to add a face grain plug on the outside. This is one additional way to hide your joints from the outside of the chair. An end grain dowel will show when you paint over it, using the face grain plug avoids that.

Next simply clamp the pieces together and set them aside to dry.

The next section of this class will focus on the slats and assembling the seat assembly.

As always I appreciate any questions, comments, suggestions, or criticisms of my blog. I would appreciate the feedback.

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

2 comments so far

View lew's profile


12019 posts in 3724 days

#1 posted 01-01-2012 09:15 PM

Very detailed, Betsy!

I really like the inclusion of pertinent cautionary notes. They go a long way in helping reduce errors and reminding us of safety issues.

Also, your use of the patterns as measuring/marking devices really nice- again lessens the chance of errors.

Thanks for the hard work!


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Ken90712's profile


17553 posts in 3157 days

#2 posted 01-11-2012 11:53 AM

Very nice, I like the wooden dowel idea. Great job.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

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