Adirondack Chair

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Blog series by Scott R. Turner updated 05-07-2014 02:14 PM 12 parts 28252 reads 20 comments total

Part 1: Mock Up

11-23-2013 07:29 PM by Scott R. Turner | 3 comments »

My father-in-law has been a long-time builder of Adirondack chairs. He’s retiring this year, so I decided to build him a custom Adirondack chair for his retirement. I looked around a bit for inspiration, and really liked this chair by Michael Brown: The lines are nice, and I like the idea of the bentwood slats for the back and seat, to be more comfortable than the traditional Adirondack design. I posted a question about it on one of the forums, and Andrew Kopac of 24HourDesign...

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Part 2: Buying Wood

11-30-2013 04:13 AM by Scott R. Turner | 3 comments »

Left work a little early today to go by Vienna Hardwoods (that’s Virginia, not Austria) to pick up some African Mahogany for the Adirondack chair. I’d considered some other wood sources in the area (particularly Exotic Hardwoods over in Maryland) but Vienna Hardwoods had the best prices that I found and on an earlier scouting trip I’d seen plenty of acceptable boards. If nothing else, Vienna Hardwoods is an adventure—a small warehouse space jammed with a jumble of ...

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Part 3: Mock Up Done

12-07-2013 05:05 AM by Scott R. Turner | 3 comments »

It’s been a busy week, but I managed to find the time to bend the chair arms for the mock-up chair and see about attaching them. I also trimmed the back slats to a gentle arc. Here are a couple of views: and As you can see from the line of holes up near the top of the back, I had the top back brace too high and had to move it down. While I had the brace off, I also shaped it to the curve of the back. I did this with a drawknife and spokeshave. The drawknife is certain...

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Part 4: Progress; Compass Rose Started

12-09-2013 02:38 AM by Scott R. Turner | 0 comments »

I got less time in the workshop than I would have liked today—trivial life things like putting up the Christmas tree and watching Kansas City annihilate the Redskins (sob!) kept interfering. Still I got time in to work on a few things. I got the second set of slats steamed and bent. The first set came out of the steamer with some mysterious stains. I’m not sure why, but I read somewhere on the Internets that the minerals in tap water can sometimes stain. So for this set I use...

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Part 5: Legs, Rose and Resawing

12-16-2013 02:52 AM by Scott R. Turner | 0 comments »

Made some good progress on the chair this weekend despite the usual competition for my time and attention. One task was to make the front leg supports and join them with the long runners. In a typical Adirondack chair these are just screwed together (and that’s how I made the practice chair) but I decided to do a half-lap joint which I’ll eventually decorate with some pegs. The layout of this isn’t straightforward, since the long runners are at about a 20 degree angle to ...

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Part 6: Progress

01-02-2014 03:33 AM by Scott R. Turner | 0 comments »

I’ve made a lot of progress on the chair in the last few days, although I’m at one of those points in the project where the progress isn’t easily apparent. One thing I had to do was spend a few days re-bending or replacing a few of the seat and back slats because they either hadn’t bent well the first time around, or had cracked too much. Fortunately with steam bending the effective is somewhat cumulative, so a second bending cured those ills. I also cut and shape...

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Part 7: Compass Rose; Seat Slats

01-04-2014 01:46 AM by Scott R. Turner | 0 comments »

Started off today by working on the two compass roses. I laid out the roses on the glued-up blanks and started cutting them out: This makes interesting sawdust—a mix of walnut and holly. After lots of cutting and fitting, it was ready to glue up the secondary points: My technique is to put blue tape on the back of the rose, glue in the points, and cover them with blue tape on the front. This is sufficient to get a tight joint, and since the rose isn’t structural t...

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Part 8: Starting To Look Like A Chair

01-11-2014 01:04 AM by Scott R. Turner | 2 comments »

Seats slats have been attached with maple pegs, and everything dyed and given a coat of linseed oil. Compass stars from layout to inlay.

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Part 9: Progress Photos

01-21-2014 12:46 AM by Scott R. Turner | 4 comments »

Making one of the back supports. The back gets deeper as it goes up, and I cut dadoes to capture the back slats and help even up the spacing. After the steam-bending, the slats are not entirely straight side-to-side. The flat side of this support gets shaped to a curve after it is dadoed and the peg holes are drilled. The back slats attached to their supports. The bottom (far) support is heftier; it attaches to the legs with a single peg on each side so that it can pivot. This...

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Part 10: Bending the Arms

01-21-2014 07:49 PM by Scott R. Turner | 1 comment »

Redryder asked about the steam-bending process. I’ve covered that a little bit earlier in the series, but I bent the arms (well, one so far) today, so I took some photos along the way. Here’s the basic set-up. The box is made out of plywood, dado-ed, glued together and caulked on the seams. It has held up fairly well but is starting to come apart in some places and I’ve had to reinforce it. The steamer is the standard Rockler kit. The kit comes with the brass fit...

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Part 11: More Arm Work

02-09-2014 10:48 PM by Scott R. Turner | 0 comments »

It’s been hard to get any long stretches in the workshop lately, but when I look back I’ve actually accomplished quite a bit. After bending the arms for the chair, the next step was to inlay the compass roses. (In retrospect, I might have been better off fitting the arms to the chair and then inlaying the roses rather than the other order.) I marked a reference point on each arm and then taped down the stars to keep them from moving and carefully marked them onto the arm. ...

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Part 12: Lessons Learned

05-07-2014 02:14 PM by Scott R. Turner | 4 comments »

This is a wrap-up posting to talk about some of the lessons I learned in making the chair. I like to retrospect a little at the finish of a project to understand what worked, what didn’t work, and how to apply those lessons to my craft. This was the first time I’d done a project with steam-bending. For the most part that worked out fine. The actual process of steam-bending is not as daunting as it first seems. There were some challenges in building the forms—they need...

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