Help with Bentwood Back Adirondack Chair Design

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Forum topic by Scott R. Turner posted 09-28-2013 07:30 PM 1431 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Scott R. Turner

267 posts in 3576 days

09-28-2013 07:30 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question bentwood chair

I’d like to build a elegant, bentwood back Adirondack chair similar to this one:

I can tackle much of the design myself, but I’d like to have a starting point for the bentwood back, particularly regarding the overall size and the curve. If anyone can point me to plans or someone who has tackled a similar project, I’d much appreciate it!

7 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4036 days

#1 posted 09-28-2013 08:06 PM

Laminate it. You make a 2 part form. Technically, you can
glue up the form in like 3 layers of plywood and bandsaw out
the curve you want (allow for a little springback depending
on number and thickness of laminate layers), but you’ll get
a more accurate form by making a pattern in 1/4” masonite
and smoothing out both sides for a nice fit together, then
using those patterns to route your plywood form layers
to shape.

In terms of the shape of the curve, the Maloof curve should
work and you can grab that from side views of his rocking
chairs or copies. Observing your own anatomy helps. You
can find plastic lounge chair or something and stick various
bolsters behind your lower back to get and idea of the kind
of curve you’ll find comfortable.

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 2442 days

#2 posted 09-28-2013 09:20 PM

Have you tried contacting the maker? maybe he would be willing to share/sell a few dimensions for you to make them for yourself.

-- Joel

View Scott R. Turner's profile

Scott R. Turner

267 posts in 3576 days

#3 posted 09-28-2013 11:03 PM

@Loren, thanks for the lamination advice, that’s what I’m planning to do. I’m just hoping to find a pattern for a graceful curve that I can use.

@Joel, that’s not a bad idea.

View casual1carpenter's profile


354 posts in 2864 days

#4 posted 09-29-2013 01:44 AM

Scott. did you look at,

there is a pic that shows a side view of that chair, that might help guide you along some like Loren said observing your own anatomy. His chair appears to have bend points about elbow and shoulder height,

View Woodendeavor's profile


276 posts in 2995 days

#5 posted 09-29-2013 01:55 AM

I have sat in this chair at the American Craft Council show in Baltimore. The back flexes and is unbelievably comfortable. I would look for a chair that you or someone you know owns that has a good back and trace a pattern from it

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4036 days

#6 posted 09-29-2013 01:59 AM

I wouldn’t ask him, personally. It’s an insult to a designer to ask
for their drawings without paying for them. Designing,
manufacturing and selling custom furniture is a lot of work
and while knock-offs happen, if a good, marketable design
hasn’t been published it’s for a reason, often to do with
protecting the designer’s livelihood.

There’s an article by A.W. Marlowe (I think) in FWW back issues
which explains how to extrapolate rather exact proportions, if
not dimensions, from photographs. He was a reproduction
furniture builder.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3238 days

#7 posted 09-29-2013 04:37 PM

Build a dummy. Scott. Poplar, stapled together, all but the back. Then start experimenting. Build a back and clamp it in and have a seat. That’s how these guys come to find what works. Since the world is full of backs all different, this is a great chance to please yourself.

One key detail I’m surprised Michael Brown missed: The classic Adirondack has a center back splat, which is an insult to nearly every vertebra in your back. With these narrower pieces in Brown’s design, you can do the right thing, an even number, with a gap in the center to accommodate the bumpity back parts of human anatomy. It will be vastly more comfortable, over time, than his.



+1 on Loren and the designer’s design. Thanks Loren. Beautifully spoken, as always.

-- " 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"

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