Adirondack chairs from Western Red Cedar

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Project by garlandkr posted 08-12-2015 07:16 PM 1829 views 4 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

One of the more complicated projects I’ve ever had the pleasure to complete. The plans called for a few different angled cuts for the slat supports which were all done on the bandsaw. I ended up spending way more on wood than originally budgeted and definitely more man hours, but that’s how it goes.

In the process of deciding which finish to use right now. In the meantime they’re in my garage while the summer passes by, I just need one weekend outside on the lawn relaxing before I can call this project a success.

5 comments so far

View ohwoodeye's profile


2710 posts in 4443 days

#1 posted 08-12-2015 07:26 PM

I clicked to see where you live but there is no info on your profile.

If you live in any northern climate like I do in Wisconsin, PAINT THEM.
I have tried everything else….....outdoor oil, outdoor poly, outdoor spar varnish. All of which tone them into a spectacular color but only hold up for one year. I have since painted over a few of those experiments and have had much better success with the paint. I guess there is a reason people painted their houses prior to vinyl siding and why they still paint many cedar fences.

For about 3 years now, all other chairs I have made I have used composite deck boards. A lot harder on tools but no finishing required. I have had some mold or slime grow on them but that is quickly removed with a hose, scrub brush and deck cleaner. I say this is the best way to go.
Just my 2 cents.

-- "Fine Woodworking" is the name given to a project that takes 3 times longer than normal to finish because you used hand tools instead of power tools. ----Mike, Waukesha, WI

View garlandkr's profile


58 posts in 2793 days

#2 posted 08-12-2015 07:31 PM

Thanks @ohwoodeye, I’ve updated my profile. I live in Westchester county New York about 40 miles north of the city and we get plenty of snow here.

I hear you, I was really on the fence in the beginning phases of this to just use pine and paint them. Our house has cedar shingles that have been painted, they look great and have held up for a very long time.

View NaFianna's profile


537 posts in 4315 days

#3 posted 08-12-2015 11:03 PM

I have been looking for a good solid but simple Adirondack, and I think this is it. Sometimes they are overly convoluted in their design. I really like it – well done.

-- Cad a dheanfaimid feasta gan adhmad.......?

View Mean_Dean's profile


7057 posts in 4437 days

#4 posted 08-12-2015 11:58 PM

Well these Adirondacks turned out great! They look very comfortable!

As for finishing, I can tell you my experience: I have several pieces of outdoor furniture, all made out of Luan mahogany. I leave the furniture out all year long, though under the eaves of the house. I don’t like the look of grayed-out furniture, so I refinish them every year in May, so they’re ready to go for the summer.

At first, I used a single coat of Penofin, which is a penetrating oil finish. After a few years of this routine, I decided to make a change, because the furniture color would fade, and they would get mildewed and dirty. A year or so ago, I saw on an episode of Ask This Old House, a homeowner wanted to refinish his deck, and Tom Silva went out to show him the proper way to do it. After cleaning the deck, Tom Silva recommended an oil-based stain, with 8oz per gallon of Spar varnish mixed in (kind of a weak, outdoor Danish oil formulation.) So I thought, if it’s good enough for Tom Silva, it should be good enough for me! So I mixed up the Penofin/Spar varnish, and refinished the furniture—but with a twist. I gave all the horizontal surfaces 3 coats, instead of the prior 1 coat.

I did this in May, and so far, the furniture still looks fantastic! But the main reason for the 3 coats on the horizontal surfaces is to (I hope) prevent the fading/mildewing over the winter. It seems like the winter is more damaging to the finish than the summer is.

If you’re going to use paint, I’d recommend Bob Flexner’s (finishing guru) book, Flexner on Finishing, where he discusses paint as an outdoor finish. The problem with paint is, that some types of paint can’t keep up with the expansion and contraction that the wood goes through being exposed to wild temperature variations, being in the hot sun, and then getting cold overnight. I don’t remember which type of paint (water-based or oil-based) holds up to the expansion/contraction cycle better, but it’s in the book.

If you’re still awake after reading this tome, best of luck to you on finishing them, and let us know how it turned out, and if you’d do anything differently!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View Moosesman's profile


216 posts in 3794 days

#5 posted 08-13-2015 01:16 AM

Good looking chair. Great job. I made some a while back out of pine and painted them and it was still hard to cover up the wood and they were for someone else. That cedar has a real nice look to it. Whichever you choose I’m sure they will look great.

-- Cut it chop it rip it....make it!!!!

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