Which wood for adirondack chair?

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Forum topic by Vrtigo1 posted 05-07-2011 11:39 PM 28637 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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434 posts in 3467 days

05-07-2011 11:39 PM

I have been looking at building an adirondack style chair for a while and have decided that I would like to make one as a gift for my wife. I’m looking at the plans for Jake’s Chair and it calls for 36 LF of 8” wide stock and 6 LF of 10” wide stock.

I would like to use pine and paint it. The home centers around me have a couple different types of pine. One is the standard #2 (I think) and then they also have special pine “project boards”. The project boards are a lot more expensive, about double the price. The standard pine (they call it whitewood, so maybe it’s actually fir or something else) would run about $50 for one chair, and the project boards would be around $100. So my question is what has your experience been with the cheaper stuff? Is it workable or should I avoid it? The $50 difference isn’t a big deal, but I’m thinking in terms of making more down the road and I would like to use the same material for all of them, so if I end up making four chairs for our house and potentially a few more as gifts for other people in our family then the cost difference jumps up several hundred bucks and I was just looking for some insight on how to decide which way to go.

20 replies so far

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2172 posts in 3326 days

#1 posted 05-08-2011 01:38 AM

Here in Oregon we get an eastern pine that is just great for your project. I pay a little over a buck a foot. Yes, there are knots, but if you buy carefully you’ll end up with a clear chair. The parts are actually pretty small. But the best part of the whole deal is the material is 15/16 thick. Even planed, it makes a beefy feeling chair which is still lightweight.

I’d avoid the “white wood.” Someone here said it’s aspen. Try to fine a wood wholesaler near you where you or talk to a cabinet shop or furnituremaker for some help.

Cedar is another good choice, but it’s usually a scant 3/4 after it’s milled. Too puny, in my book.

Here’s hoping you find some good stuff for your noble project!



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View RickLoDico's profile


55 posts in 3537 days

#2 posted 05-08-2011 02:45 AM

Pine is going to rot fairly quickly. The expensive stuff just as fast as the inexpensive stuff. With paint you should get five years out of the chair. If you epoxy the four points of ground contact you’ll get even more time. I would pay a little more for cedar or white oak and epoxy the ground points. The Jakes Chair is wonderful. Large and comfy.

-- He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

View WayneC's profile


14358 posts in 4573 days

#3 posted 05-08-2011 02:49 AM

What about Redwood?

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View eric122's profile


140 posts in 3486 days

#4 posted 05-08-2011 03:33 AM

cypress or tigerwood which you can get from advantage lumber online store in buffalo ny or mahogony or spanish cedar or western larch or hemlock are all good choices even douglas fir would work too lake a look at a project i did using tiger wood decking

-- eric underwood

View DIYaholic's profile


19848 posts in 3151 days

#5 posted 05-08-2011 04:13 AM

Teak, no painting neccessary and weathers beautifully.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4369 days

#6 posted 05-08-2011 04:24 AM

I built 2, about ten years ago from pressure treated decking. They sit in the rain, the snow, the blistering heat…......and still hanging in there

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Schoey's profile


23 posts in 3951 days

#7 posted 05-08-2011 04:10 PM

Don’t waste your time or money on pine. You’ll get frustrated with the yearly painting. I would use any of the outdoor resistant woods and you will be much happier.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3550 days

#8 posted 05-09-2011 02:49 AM

I built 2 adirondack chairs out of ipé over 10 years ago. Those chairs will last longer than I will. Ipé is very hard and very durable. It will never rot or get infested with bugs. Finishing it is optional. If you do not finish it, it will turn gray (which some people like). With finish (reapplied every 2 years) it will retain its brown color.

It is somewhat like teak, but at about half the price. You may not be able to get boards that are as wide as you specified, but you can easily glue up ipé boards.

FYI – Ipé has a specific gravity of about 1.3 (i.e. it will not float because it is so heavy).

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 4390 days

#9 posted 05-09-2011 02:10 PM

The clear pine typically sold at the big box stores is Radiata pine from New Zealand or Chile. Radiata is absolutely terrible for outside. It might last 5 years but will disintegrate after that. Don’t waste your money.
I can personally vouch for the use of cypress.

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View RichInSoMD's profile


21 posts in 2798 days

#10 posted 04-19-2013 12:20 AM

You need to consider how much weather it is going to get. The sun and wet weather will peel the finish and rot will set in easily. Pine is probably not a good choice to bet your effort on. Cedar is good for rot but you have to design for strength because cedar can be light weight and sometimes very soft. The plan I used called for 5/4 cedar because of that. But, cedar will turn gray without a finish. Keeping a film finish on is a problem. A non-film finish like Thompson’s water seal will keep it from turning gray and it is easy to apply. But you have to be satisfied with a non-film finish.

-- RichInSoMD

View JamesT's profile


104 posts in 2388 days

#11 posted 04-19-2013 12:37 AM

White Oak is a great outdoor wood for chairs. Use an outdoor oil based poly and it takes on a very nice golden color. For adirondack I like to use 3/4 min. 7/8ths is ideal.

-- Jim from Horseshoe Bend

View HarleySoftailDeuce's profile


320 posts in 3895 days

#12 posted 05-02-2017 11:26 PM

I just bought Adirondack chair plans from Woodcraft today…and after reading many posts…will use Ipe’.
Downes & Reader in Stoughton Mass. is my go to lumber yard. Hats off to you Rich Greer for your input.


-- Paul, Bristol,Rhode Island

View LittleShaver's profile


574 posts in 1095 days

#13 posted 05-03-2017 01:07 PM

I’ve built 4 Jake Chairs with foot stools over the years. The first 2 in cheap-o big box pine. The second 2 out of Jarrah about 6 years ago. The first have been around for 12 years or so and are still doing fine. After trying clear coating for a couple of years in the Las Vegas sun, I ended up painting them. I didn’t epoxy the ground contact points but used furniture sliders instead as they sit on pool deck and concrete patio.
The Jarrah set receive an annual oiling after exposure to the Colorado high country sun. Jarrah is heavy but we had some 80-90 mph winds back in January and the chairs sailed across the yard. One survived, the other needs some repairs. I again used sliders at the contact points for sitting on a concrete terrace.
I found that it was just as easy to build two at a time. The plans are based on 3/4 material and I have found no reason to “beef it up” with the possible exception of the piece that goes across the back between the arms. I think my next set will use 1 1/2 material for that piece.

-- Sawdust Maker

View PPK's profile


1501 posts in 1285 days

#14 posted 05-03-2017 01:13 PM

I also used pressure treated lumber (green treat) and its none the worse for the wear. If you don’t like the green, wait a couple months for it to dry completely, then stain it (with out door stain) the color of your choice, like I did. Cheap option. I think I spent about $50 when all said and done.

-- Pete

View ArtMann's profile


1422 posts in 1292 days

#15 posted 05-03-2017 02:02 PM

I built mine out of old growth cypress but it is hard to come by. I agree with others. If the chair is made of pine and sits out in the weather, it will rot in a few years, even if painted. It may warp or twist before that. My source of cypress is gone. I would build out of white oak if I did it again.

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