Adirondack Chair Class #8: Arm Supports - short lesson

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Blog entry by Betsy posted 01-16-2012 04:53 AM 4299 reads 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: Correction and moving onto the slats and seat assembly Part 8 of Adirondack Chair Class series Part 9: Back rest assembly »

The arm rest supports (J) are the next thing to make and install. This is a great time to use some scrap wood for a small part. You’ll need two for each chair.

Cut a piece just a tiny bit wider than 3.25” to allow for a nicer curve. Cut one piece long enough to make both pieces.

You’ll use a compass to mark the curve. The nice thing about plans like the one used for the chair is some of the paper patterns are full size. You can use the pattern to set a school style compass to the 3.25” or you can set the compass using a ruler.

Place your compass point at one corner of the board you’ve cut.

Then simply swing it to make your arc.

Next cut the board into two pieces using a chop saw.

Use a small piece of carpet tape to make a stack. Be sure to put the carpet tape on the area that will make the two parts.

In small pieces like this I like to use two small nails to hold the stack together. I have this handy little “nail spinner” to essentially drill the nail into the wood.

You can load the nail into the spinner.

Finish driving the nails into the stack to make sure the nail goes through both pieces.

Cautionary note – Be very careful not to drive the nails so far that they break through the back. If they break through you will do one of two things – you’ll scratch your band saw table and/or the nails will catch on the table making it tougher to move through the blade.

Set the band saw blade guard to just above the height of the stack and and cut out the parts.

While the stack is still together – via the tape – use a sander to clean up the saw marks.

Next use a piece of sandpaper and break the edges of the outside of the stack. Only break the edges that will not join to front leg (part I). Rounding those edges will prevent a good clean joint.

Take the stack apart and break the inside edges as you did for the outside edges.

Next use a small square and make a mark 3/8” in from the edge along the top of the arm support and along the rounded bottom of the part.

Use a square and draw a line bisecting the two screws hold made earlier when you cut the front leg (part I).

Move your square to the top of Part I and make another straight line.

Now you can use your marks made on the arm support rest (part J) to align the support with where it needs to go to match up with the arms that you will be making later.

I’ve taken a picture that shows how the marks make it easier to align the parts.

Next up is to drill the pilot holes and drive in the screws.

Cautionary note – In this particular spot I make sure to use the shorter 1.25” screws. If you use the longer screw you run the risk of breaking the screw used to attach the arm to the arm support.

I use a little trick in screwing the parts together. After I drill the first pilot hole I then put glue on the part and drive the screw just a little way through the front leg.

This allows me to realign the part exactly where it was. You can take the chance of drilling the pilot hole, then picking up a second drill, placing the screw into the hole and then picking up the drill to drive it in one act – I can’t do it. So I use that trick.

After driving the first screw – use it as a pivot to align the bottom of the part.

Finally, add plugs that go with the grain.

You are now ready to the let the plugs dry. Once dried sand them flat and get ready to make the back rest.

As always – your comments, questions or suggestions are appreciate.

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

4 comments so far

View lew's profile


12056 posts in 3752 days

#1 posted 01-16-2012 02:03 PM

Some really great tips, here, Betsy.

Glad to know I’m not the only one that labels the edges of the work piece so I know where NOT to sand.

Wish I had the Carter guide bearings on my bandsaw, too!


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

View mafe's profile


11725 posts in 3086 days

#2 posted 01-20-2012 01:38 PM

Just seen this blog you have made and want to give you my compliments.
What a wonderful blog, this is not just a how to but also a share of methods and thoughts.
Thank you.
Best of my thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3893 days

#3 posted 01-20-2012 03:12 PM

Thanks Mads. I really appreciate the compliment. I’m enjoying doing the blog. It’s a great way to really think through processes when you have to write it down so that someone else can follow you. It’s been fun.

Thanks again.

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

View mafe's profile


11725 posts in 3086 days

#4 posted 01-21-2012 10:57 PM


-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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