Adirondack Chairs #1: Halfway into the White Oak version

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Blog entry by Jacob C. Heffelfinger posted 09-17-2013 12:16 AM 1867 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Adirondack Chairs series Part 2: New templates, two jigs, and progress »

This is the first entry in this series, but I’m already halfway into the White Oak version of my Rockler Adirondack chair. I’m also building a Western Red Cedar version, but haven’t started dimensioning the boards yet. I’m starting the blog at this point in the project, because 1. I wasn’t a member of LJ before starting the project and 2. I need to get my thoughts down about what I’ve learned so far, because this is really my first TRUE hardwood project.

This is the plan I’m using:

I like it, because the dimensions are aesthetically appealing to me, it looks very sturdy compared to other chairs and plans I’ve seen, and it came with templates for the complicated parts, so that my learning curve isn’t as steep as it might have been.

What I’ve learned up to now:

1. Dimensioning rough boards is not as tough as I thought it would be.

This is mostly thanks to such a large community of woodworkers so willing to share knowledge and tips. If you don’t know how to do something and want to learn Google it and you’re sure to find blog posts, pictures, videos, and forums to answer EVERYTHING. It also helps to have the right tools for the job.

2. Having a wife and two young kids increases project completion time exponentially!

I’ve been “working” on the same chair for at least 2 months and only have a few parts completed.

3. Don’t make router templates out of 1/4” material if you want them to last and work well on thick parts.

I made my first set of templates from a 2’x4’x1/4” sheet of whiteboard-like (it has more texture than a whiteboard should) material. They looked great and slid well on the router table, but didn’t hold up so well as guides. Especially when the wrong router table technique was in play, more on that below. I have since started new templates in 1/2” MDF.

4. Not having a true shop setup yet gets in the way of progress.

Whether it be the Thein dust separator, drill charging station, repaired outfeed table, or some new template you realize you need, there are tons of obstacles and projects to get in the way of completing the project you really want to work on. This is just a fact of life, I’m finding, for new woodworkers. I’m sure it lessons over time as you build up your collection of tools and get organized, but it’s a hassle that still needs to be dealt with. Add to that the fact that I don’t want to build any kind of permanent structures in my “shop” (one bay of a three car garage), because we’re in a rental house right now, and you can quickly understand why everything might take 3 times longer than it should. That’s okay, because it allows for learning and gives me great ideas for how I will setup my shop when we buy a house in the next few months.

5. Route DOWNHILL!!!

I haven’t worked with any other species of lumber on the router table, but I have a feeling they all react the same way when routing a curve in the wrong direction. I do know for sure that when you route uphill with White Oak, it chips and breaks with large chunks of wood becoming missiles you don’t want to be in the way of. Luckily nobody got hit, but I’ve since learned to route curves downhill so as not so separate the grain. Thank you again Google, forums, and videos. I’ve also purchased a template bit with ball bearing guides on both the top and bottom, so that I can flip the piece of work over to route in the right direction, rather than take the template off and re-attach it. (pics to come).

What I’m hoping to learn as I continue with this project:

1. Do I like Western Red Cedar or White Oak better for these chairs
2. Better flow in my work space
3. An easier way to make tapered cuts
4. Anything that I don’t know I need to know for this project.

That’s it for now, but I’m going to post what I’ve completed so far when I have more time…

-- ~Jake

1 comment so far

View jeffbranch's profile


110 posts in 2675 days

#1 posted 09-17-2013 02:36 AM

That is one thing I have never built, an adirondack chair. Good luck with it. Nice tools.


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