Adirondack Chair build how to - Betsy's version #7: Armrest assembly #2

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Blog entry by Betsy posted 01-18-2008 04:11 AM 13958 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Armrest Assembly - #1 Part 7 of Adirondack Chair build how to - Betsy's version series Part 8: The chair assembly »

This is the tricky part. Getting the angled cut on the back armrest support. The idea is that you want to cut the required 25 degree angle but not cut it across the entire length of the board. You want to cut from the shoulder of one half lap joint to the shoulder of the opposite end. Can’t do it on the table saw. You could hand chop it – but that’s pretty tough. I prefer the band saw method.

First though the reason you don’t want to cut the angled back across the entire length of your board, as I believe it says to in the original plans is this:


See that unsightly gap – that’s there because this chair was made by cutting the angle across the whole length. Now the argument can be made that you can putty that hole up when you paint the chair. But what if you are not going to paint. What about staining – or no finish at all. Nope – you don’t want to cut the angle that way. (By the way, the picture above is of a very old chair – it’s probably 8 or 9 years old and will be making it’s way to the curb by summer I’m sure.)

Instead set your band saw’s table to 25 degrees and cut the angle.


You want to draw a pencil line 1” in from the edge that will be resting against the back rest. You can see in the picture below that you are going to have to direct your cut in at a sloping angle to get to the cut line.

Just take it slow and easy until you get to your line.

Then keep your blade going straight.


STOP!!!! Stop when your blade just hits through the end of the shoulder. Then back out the blade.


Now the tricking part of the tricky part. Cutting away the waste that the band saw left behind.

The end that your blade went straight into is simple—- cut use a small hand saw and cut down the edge of the shoulder. Cut at a slope to match the angle of the band saw cut. When you’ve gone just enough the piece will fall out.


The trickiest cut though is the entry waste portion. As you can see from the picture below – there is a chunk to cut away by hand. I’ve marked it with a pencil to show it a bit better.


This particular cut has to be cut down the edge of the tenon (like the other end) and also across the length of the board.


It’s not that hard – you just have to pay attention to the angle of the saw and cut slowly.

If done semi-ok to pretty good your lap joint should look like this. (I outlined the joint in pencil because I could not get a picture that actually could see the line of the joint.)


So now onto the assembly of the arms. Really quite simple. Cut yourself a 19.5” piece of scrap to use as a wedge at the top of the assembly for gluing support.

Your layout should look like this:


Now just because I’m anal – I always check to make sure the space between the arms is 19.5 inches. If it’s less you’re in trouble – if it’s more—- but not much more you can live with it.

Next just apply glue to both surfaces of the lap joint and clamp. I use several clamps on both ends and use one clap at the top of the assembly to hold in my wedge piece. Once clamped I can move on to the next thing.



While the arms are setting up I have time to make plugs for the screw holes and the little arm supports that go in front.

First the plugs. Really easy. Just use a piece of scrape from the chair and a 3/8” plug cutter on a drill press. Bore into the scrap about half way and come out.


There are two ways to get your plugs off of the board once you have drilled them. The screwdriver/skinny chisel method where you just pop them out.


Or you can cut them out on the band saw. I do it that way. I first though cover the plugs with blue painter’s tape. This way, after cutting the board in half at the band saw the plugs don’t go flying around the shop. They stick to the tape. The tape then acts as a dispenser of plugs. Keeps them handy.


You’ve got quite a number of holes to fill at this point. Just use a dab on glue on each plug and tap into each screw hole. Let them dry and then either sand down flush or use a flush cut saw.


Next up is making the little arm supports. This is also done from scrapes. Use your pattern piece to cut the arc. (It’s another 3.5” arch – but only a half arc.) I like to tape two pieces of scrape that have been squared off together and then cut the pair out as one piece. The two square edges makes it so you only have to cut the curve and not straight lines. It’s important for this to be a square piece.


Well that’s it for today. Hope you enjoyed this particular ride through my project.

I have one question for you all. This has been a fun blog for me to do. But am I to heavy on the pictures and to light on the words? or the other way around? I’d really appreciate your feedback on the blog. Because I really want to make this something that others can learn from (not that I hold myself as a wonderful teacher or anything – far from it – I’m a novice like most of you) and if you see something you think I could do differently I’d appreciate knowing that.

Thanks all for looking.

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

3 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4013 days

#1 posted 01-18-2008 04:31 AM

Your balance seems just about right to me, Betsy.

You should think about getting a Japanese saw without the “back” you can cut as deep as you want.

Lookin’ good!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4243 days

#2 posted 01-18-2008 05:00 AM

Pictures are good!!!! Sometimes I just zone out when I’m reading someone’s lengthy written description of something they did. I’m a right-brain person…..I have to be able to visualize something in order to comprehend it.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3921 days

#3 posted 01-18-2008 05:03 AM

Thanks guys. Gary – I actually do have a Japanese saw. But these cuts were not very deep so I used the Zona. I think the pictures make it look like the cuts were deep, but nope. The back also did not cause a problem on the cut along the angle, although I suppose it should have, but didn’t.

I’ve only used the Japanese saws a couple of times so far. They can rip and cross-cut better than most that’s for sure.

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

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