Adirondack Chair Class #7: Correction and moving onto the slats and seat assembly

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Blog entry by Betsy posted 01-11-2012 05:31 AM 3972 reads 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Getting started with making slats - a short and easy lesson Part 7 of Adirondack Chair Class series Part 8: Arm Supports - short lesson »

First – you may have noticed that my last post showed the slats being cut at 1.25 and not 1.5. That was wrong – the slats are 1.5” wide by 21” long. As a result you cannot get 16 slats out of a 1×6 – not sure how I came up with that – just was not paying attention as well as I should have. So now that that’s out of the way let’s move on to getting the slats drilled, beveled and placed.

You need a fence of some sort to make sure that each slat is drilled at the correct place on each end. This is my fence – just a piece of MDF with two boards at a 90 degree angle which keeps everything square.

You need to place the fence on the drill press table and clamp it into position so that the bit will enter at the right point.

Now with the 3/8” Forstener bit drill a screw hole on each end of all of the slats.

Next up is cutting the bevels. Your 13 slats go like this starting at the back of the char:

1. 20 degree bevel on one edge
2. no bevel
3. no bevel
4. no bevel
5. no bevel
6. no bevel
7. no bevel
8. no bevel
9. no bevel
10. 20 degree bevel on both edges
11. 15 degree bevel on both edges
12. 30 degree bevel on one edge
13. no bevel

Cautionary Note On any slat that is going to get a bevel – try to avoid slats with a knot at or near the edge like this one.

Cutting through the knot may make it come loose and leave you with a gouge in the side of your slat.

First up is cutting the 20 degree bevel for slat one. Use a good gauge to tilt your blade from 90 degrees to 70 degrees. I like my Wixie gauge.

Line your fence up so that the tooth of the blade will just cut through the corner of the slat.

You can check your accuracy by placing the slat against your plan. The new plans are much more accurate as being “life size” than the original old plans.

Once you cut your bevel – make sure you mark the bevel on the piece so you keep them straight.

While you have the blade tilted for the 20 degree bevel – do the slat that requires the 20 degrees on both edges. Then again you can check against your plan.

Now adjust your blade to cut the remaining bevels.

Now comes to the assembly portion of the job.

I use my saw’s fence as a holder for my one leg assembly. I place my front leg (part I) in line with the front of my saw’s table then use a small clamp to hold it in place.

Because the back of Part G is inside part I – you need to use a spacer between the part and the fence – then use another clamp to hold it in place.

Next you need to get a spacer cut to 19.5” to place between the back of the two part G.

I use one of the 21” slats at the front of the chair and then I make sure the second Part I is also even with the front of my table saw front. Then you need to gather up some 1/4” spacers.

I make my spacers out of some scrap 1/4” ply. Using the spacers place all the slats on the chair to be certain they fit correctly.

Now you place the first slat on the lines you drew on the Part G.

Now using your spacers place all the slats onto the chair seat assembly making sure you will have a good fit.

The spacing between slat 10 and 11 is one that you have to eyeball a little bit – if you use the 1/4” spacer you end up with too large of a space. It’s pretty easy to eyeball – once it is at the right location – you should be able to run your hand across the seat slats without having any high spots.

Place a small amount of glue on each end of the slat, place the slat using your spacers and with the 3/32nd bit drill the pilot holes for each slat. Once drilled drive in a #6 1.25” screw.

Cautionary Note Not drilling a pilot hole will create an opportunity to split the wood when you drive in the screw.

You will know that your chair is square if each slat is placed and none hang over the edges of Part G.

Now that all the slats are placed you need to get some plugs cut and placed.

Learning Point You don’t have to have really tall plugs – in fact you want to try to have the plugs just barely tall enough to bottom out in the screw hole and just come over the top of the slat.

Use a 3/8” plug cutter to cut enough plugs to fill in all the slats and the three holes where Part I and Part G where joined using dowel pins.

Once you’ve drilled your plugs you have to cut them out. One thing that will make the chair look nicer (and this is good for future projects of a higher quality) is to make the plug’s grain follow the grain of the piece being plugged. Once you have cut your plugs and removed them from the “mother board” you often cannot tell what the grain direction is. To make this easier on yourself – use a sharpie pen and simply draw a line on each plug.

Draw a line down the edge of your “mother board” at about the position that will be cut the plugs out.

Now so that the plugs don’t go flying all over the shop when you cut them out – I use blue painters tape to cover the plugs.

Take the board to the band saw and slice the board along your line. All that done here is what you should have.

Now place the plugs in each of the screw holes.

Painting the chair is a hard job because of the location between the slats. One option is to screw down one slat – skip a slat, screw down one, skip one, etc. This gives you a chance to paint the slats without working so hard at getting between the slats.

Here is some example shots of how I paint my chairs.

I have made a small jig to hold the slats that are not screwed down.

As you can see the jig is simply two scraps of wood with dowels inserted. I can then place the slats with the screws holes resting on the dowel pins. This gives me the support to hold the slats still and give me the space to paint them easily.

Okay so that’s it for this part. The next part will be assembling the back rest.

As always your comments are appreciated.

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

4 comments so far

View HerbC's profile


1764 posts in 2888 days

#1 posted 01-11-2012 08:02 AM


Great series. I’ve received my plans, just need to decide on wood and start working on it to catch up…


1. The photos look like you lined the grain on the plugs perpendicular to the grain on the slats. Yes? I seem to recall that they should be perpendicular to avoid splitting the main piece when the plug(s) expand due to moisture…

2. How deep should the 3/8” screw countersink holes be?

Thanks again for taking the time to do this…


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View Ken90712's profile


17563 posts in 3218 days

#2 posted 01-11-2012 11:57 AM

Nice job, not sure why everyone does not use plug on there chairs! It ads so much more to them and shows you care.

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

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3925 days

#3 posted 01-11-2012 04:08 PM

Thanks Herb and Ken. I appreciate the feedback.

Herb – I drill the holes to about 2/3 of the height of my forstner bit’s body. Can’t tell you the exact depth that is, I just eyeball it. You don’t want the hole to be too deep which would take away too much wood for the screw to sink into as it connects to the next board, but you also don’t want it too shallow so that it will not accept a plug. So I’ve always just used the 2/3’s body trick.

As to the plug themsevles – inserting the plugs going the same direction of the wood does two things. It helps to hide the actual screw hole and yes – as it expands (which in this particular piece I would not be concerned about) it would not split the wood.

Someone may correct me on this point though – the size of the plugs in a piece like this should not be expanding enough to split no matter the direction you put them in. I believe a plug would have to be a pretty big one to make much of a difference on the surrounding piece.

Thanks again for the feedback. Karl – let me know if I did not answer your questions fully.

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

View lew's profile


12102 posts in 3784 days

#4 posted 01-12-2012 04:38 PM

Another Great “Chapter”!

You are so right about the painting difficulties, Betsy! I never thought about that when I built my first set of chairs. Ended up spray painting them!


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

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