Wood choice for adirondak chair

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Forum topic by woodfan1975 posted 10-28-2009 04:39 PM 1046 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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9 posts in 2552 days

10-28-2009 04:39 PM

Has anyone made an adirondak chair out of plywood? How did it turn out? I am curious if anyone has done this as I am thinking about heading in that direction myself for a couple of reasons. The first one is the time saver, I dont feel like jointing and planing all the stock needed for the amount of chairs I need to build. 2nd is cost, quality solid wood is so much more then quality plywood where I am. Any input “wood” be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

9 replies so far

View CaptainSkully's profile


1407 posts in 2978 days

#1 posted 10-28-2009 06:08 PM

If it’s plywood and it’s outdoors, you must completely encapsulate the plywood with a durable sealant. I would use epoxy, then paint over that, as epoxy has no UV resistance. Relying on just exterior grade latex would invite water damage on the feet.

You can also go to any hardwood flooring place to get suitable lumber. I’ve had luck with Ipe (Brazilian Walnut). As long as it doesn’t have grooves on the bottom, you don’t have to plane it. You can build your design around the thickness of the flooring.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View a1Jim's profile


115172 posts in 2996 days

#2 posted 10-28-2009 06:14 PM

Ipe’s an excellent choice plywood will delaminate if not keep sealed with a weather proof finish just like Skully said.

-- Custom furniture

View LesB's profile


1228 posts in 2862 days

#3 posted 10-28-2009 07:20 PM

I would have to disagree with woodfan1975 on the plywood theme. Almost all plywood made today uses what use to be called “exterior” glue and does not delaminate easily. However this would exclude most of those with hardwood veneer finishes. In the distant past there were plywoods made with what was termed “interior” glue and it would not stand up to moisture. There is also plywood made with what is called “marine” glue; meaning they were intended for building boats which are exposed to the water all the time. Check with your suppliers on those.
I assume if you use plywood you will paint the chairs so that will protect them from moisture. Use a good primer and then an exterior house trim paint. Your biggest problem would be the feet contacting the ground where the paint may wear off and moisture could wick into the wood. You might consider putting a waterproof barrier on the feet; some sort of rubber or plastic footing.

Ipe wood would be an excellent choice but would make the chair VERY heavy and much more expensive than plywood. Although it would not necessarily apply to your chairs it can also be difficult to glue together.

Other good choices which are rot resistant are redwood, western cedar, and cypress; especially if you want to leave the wood with a natural oil finish.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3241 days

#4 posted 10-28-2009 07:32 PM

If I were going this route I would opt for solid wood rather than plywood. You have some good choices mentioned. Another is white oak. I can be used for outdoor furniture and is fairly economical.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Mike Gager's profile

Mike Gager

665 posts in 2686 days

#5 posted 10-28-2009 07:39 PM

go for cypress. its relativly inexpensive (cheaper then oak) and is a great outdoor wood

View CaptainSkully's profile


1407 posts in 2978 days

#6 posted 10-28-2009 11:22 PM

OK, maybe the plywood won’t “delaminate” per se, but the grain will absorb moisture and wick due to capillary action. The glue itself may be impervious, but that’s just holding the wood together. The end result is still bad.

I just thought that even if the Ipe has the flooring grooves in it, you can always put that on the bottom/inside. I’ve got some bamboo flooring that’s killing me because it’s so tough and I’m not willing to plane it. I made a spatula out of it last night after dinner.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View woodfan1975's profile


9 posts in 2552 days

#7 posted 10-29-2009 03:23 PM

Thank you all for your input. I spent some time hitting my suppliers last night and I found a stack of cedar that is already close to the final dimensions that I need, so minimum jointing and planing required. All though I think one day I will try plywood as an experiment and see how well it holds up.

View CaptainSkully's profile


1407 posts in 2978 days

#8 posted 10-29-2009 05:14 PM

If you make templates, the second chair will take half as long to make.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View brantley's profile


185 posts in 2676 days

#9 posted 11-02-2009 08:28 PM

ive made a few adirondack chairs out of pressure treated deck wood and it has turned out good for me so far.

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