Ipe' Adirondack Chairs

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Project by BigSissy posted 06-10-2008 05:19 AM 8615 views 7 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here’s a pair of adirondack chairs I made out of ipe’ from a modified FWW plan. I got a very nice finish on the armrests, back slats and seat slats by sanding down to 320 then buffing-out an application of teak oil. Alas, the extreme smoothness can’t last past one rainstorm (they still look good though).

My next modification will be to make seat slats that run somewhat parallel to the back slats.

I am very curious about trying to make an indoor Morris chair using ipe’.

18 comments so far

View Napaman's profile


5530 posts in 4441 days

#1 posted 06-10-2008 05:25 AM

very nice…i used the FWW plan last summer with no modification…I like yours…I havent seen any with such large gaps in both the seat slats and back slats…was the IPE hard to weork with?>??

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View Taigert's profile


593 posts in 4205 days

#2 posted 06-10-2008 12:13 PM

Those chairs should last a life time. You did a very nice job. What made you decide to use Ipe, most people shy away from using it due to it’s reputation of being hard to work with and hard on blades? I have been thinking about making my new furniture for out on the deck using Ipe. I love the look of the wood.

-- Taigert - Milan, IN

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 4163 days

#3 posted 06-10-2008 02:38 PM

they look great…. How many blades and drill bits did you destroy on the IPE.?. that stuff is fantastic but sure does put a hurting on the tools.

-- making sawdust....

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4109 days

#4 posted 06-10-2008 03:01 PM

Those are nice looking chairs. If you make any more outside furniture with the ipe, try wiping the wood down with water and sanding a couple of times before you put on the finish. It should raise the grain enough that you won’t have to much problem with it later. Go for the Morris chair. I made one out of purple heart once. It was a job that I don’t look forward to doing again though.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16282 posts in 4582 days

#5 posted 06-10-2008 03:24 PM

Excellent job of modifying the plans to come up with a unique touch.

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

View BigSissy's profile


15 posts in 4002 days

#6 posted 06-10-2008 04:50 PM

My conclusions about Ipe’ based upon this project:

1) Because it is so dense, it can be sanded to an amazing finish.
2) Because it is so hard, it is also very brittle. I wanted to pattern route the curves and was unable to do so. Big pieces would snap-off right along the grain line, and climb cuts would not work either. You must be extremely careful when driving screws. Pilot holes must be at least equal to screw shanks and you can’t take a chance on overtightening or you’ll split the wood.
3) I don’t have a bandsaw, so I had to cut all my curved parts with my Bosch 1590EVSK. This jigsaw is a beast and is more than adequate to the task when settings are adjusted (slow speed, max orbital cut). I used their aggressive wood cutting blades. I did the final shaping and smoothing with my Festool RO125 (worth every cent).
4) My cheap roundover bit (Skil – was afraid to use the Freud) has shown no decrease in cutting effectiveness after four chairs.
5) Learned I had to wear a respirator when doing any type of cutting or sanding. I don’t think I’m as sensitive to the Ipe’ dust as some folks (no skin reactions), but it sure does cause me a headache.
6) Did not put any of it through the planer, and I don’t think I ever will. Dimensioned stuff seems very stable and more than adequate for lawn furniture.
7) For a tropical hardwood, Ipe’ is relatively inexpensive (although supposedly not as inexpensive as it was just a year ago)
8) Ipe’ color varies WIDELY. If you want consistent coloring, you’ll need to make an conscious effort in choosing your boards.

About the design:

1) I was initially concerned about the potential weight of the piece and the strength of the Ipe’ allowed me to use less material than the plans called for the back and seat slats.
2) As I was messing around with widths and spacing, I began to appreciate the more airy and sleek design that was evolving.
3) I want to make the next set even more airy and sleek. As a warm-weather chair, I think this might have a broad appeal.

View jeanmarc's profile


1899 posts in 4080 days

#7 posted 06-10-2008 06:22 PM

Excellent job

-- jeanmarc manosque france

View Texasgaloot's profile


465 posts in 4065 days

#8 posted 06-10-2008 07:32 PM

Your write-up on this project was worth the price of admission! Thanks especially for your insights into your design!

-- There's no tool like an old tool...

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4611 days

#9 posted 06-10-2008 08:02 PM

Cool! mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View brunob's profile


2277 posts in 4534 days

#10 posted 06-10-2008 09:55 PM

Very, very nice.

-- Bruce from Central New, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 4131 days

#11 posted 06-11-2008 12:45 AM

Nice project, thank you for sharing.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View blackcherry's profile


3339 posts in 4187 days

#12 posted 06-11-2008 06:30 AM

Hey Mike need a chair tester…they look beautiful…nice post…Blkcherry

View cajunpen's profile


14578 posts in 4430 days

#13 posted 06-11-2008 08:51 AM

Good looking chairs – look like nice setters.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View Kipster's profile


1076 posts in 4117 days

#14 posted 06-11-2008 11:07 PM

Y ipe’s those are nice chairs. Thanks for sharing.

-- Kip Northern Illinois ( If you don't know where your goin any road will take you there) George Harrison

View TedM's profile


2002 posts in 4097 days

#15 posted 06-12-2008 07:48 PM

Looks great and thanks for the insight into working with Ipe. I’ve turned a few pens with it and found it turned well but you have to be aware of the fine yellow dust.

-- I'm a wood magician... I can turn fine lumber into firewood before your very eyes! - Please visit and sign up for my project updates!

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