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DIY Adirondack - Chair

Easily build yourself a cozy garden chair

The Adirondack Chair or the "favorite piece of garden furniture of the Americans", units due to its design, the benefits of a lounger and a chair. This makes it known as the most comfortable garden chair in the world and although this chair can be easily replicated even by inexperienced handyman, with little materials. How it works, we show you here:

Historical background

In 1903, DIY enthusiast Thomas Lee had a clear idea of his perfect garden chair, for himself and his whole family. He was guided by his idea and built one of today's best-known garden chairs: the Adirondack chair. The furniture got its name from the Adirondack Mountains, near the birthplace of the inventor. Although there are several models of this chair, one thing hasn't changed, its characteristic shape, as well as its simple and comfortable construction.

"I sat down once and never wanted to get up again."
Klaus Schäfer
Material Measurements Gauge Tools
2 x "Cheeks" 950 x 130 20 Belt Sander/Rotating Sander
2 x Front Leg 510 x 130 20 Gliedermaßstab (Zollstock)
2 x Back Leg 650 x 130 20 Jigsaw/Band Saw
1 x Cross strive (Front) 510 x 90 15 Circular Saw
1 x Cross strive (Back) 470 x 90 15 Router
1 x Backrest (Bottom) 510 x 90 15 Screwdriver/Drillers
1 x Backrest (Top) 560 x 115 15 Drills (3,5 mm)
7 x Backrest rails 810 x 72/35 15 Clamps
12 x Seat rails 510 x 38 15 Pencil
2 x Armrest 900 x 130 20 Steel Ruler
2 x Supports 150 x 90 15  
Pallet wood (Boarding/Douglas Fir) 15-20mm    
40s Screws ca.70Stk      

Step 1: The Cutting

Since I already had enough pallet wood and boards in the garage and the workshop, I first picked out a few thick boards for the skeleton. First of all, you have to cut the boards to the according lengths using a jig or circular saw. Then you draw the shape of the seat onto the boards (The "cheeks"). Since the legs shouldn't fall asleep when sitting, one side is nicely rounded and then hit a small arc for the seat to just 40cm. Because the seat and the cheeks are approximately 18 ° obliquely upwards, the opposite edge (for rounding) is slightly bevelled.

Next, draw the outline of the armrest onto the boards. Be sure to mark a small arc on the inside, ie towards the seat. (Page 2 of the drawing) You can then choose the outer shape as you like. When drawing the supports (page 3 construction manual) you can draw a diagonal or you simply take a slightly curved shape (depending on what you like). Next, you draw the strips for the backrest. For example, my bars have a length of 840mm and a width of 72mm at the top and 35mm at the bottom. Now that you've drawn all the pieces, you can use a jigsaw or band saw to help you saw off all the parts. Since I want to build more of these chairs, I made templates out of an old back wall (of a cabinet), so I can use these more often. Simply draw with the pencil around it and you're done!

Step 2: The Grinding

Now that you have sawed out everything, you take a belt sander or an orbital sander and sand everything smoothly.

Then you can saw out the seat rails and round off the edges. After that you also edit these with a sander. Then you take yourself a router to work on all the edges, so that they are rounded off nicely. You can also take a cutter here for larger curves. Now you sand all the parts with a sanding block again (with fine sand paper) and then assemble everything.

Step 3: The Finish

This step is about protecting the wood from external influences. Here you can either assemble the chair first and then paint, which has the advantage that the holes of the screws are also treated, or you paint everything and later build everything together.

I chose the second option because I can be so sure that all parts are optimally protected.

In terms of oil, I have decided on one, which you also use for balconies and terraces. A glaze works too, but I wanted to have a matte surface here. For a dark colour I recommend to use teak oil.

After painting the wood, you have to set it aside to dry for some time. For this I have put it onto a few wooden strips, so that the pieces can dry perfectly from both sides.

Step 4:The Assembly

The Seat

First you take the two cheeks and the lower backrest and screw them together. Use here one screw per side at the beginning so that the cheeks can still be aligned later on.

Then you take the first wood strip and screw it down. With that, the two cheeks should be parallel to each other. 

To keep the spacing between the seat strips the same, you can either use a 10mm drill or a thin bar. I decided on a 12mm thick wooden strip and placed it between the seat rails. Continue this with each seat strip until all seat rails are used up, or the lowest backrest has been reached. Thus, the two cheeks are now completely parallel to each other.

The Legs

For this step, I took some clay tiles and put them under the front bar. When this is done, you take two clamps and fix the front legs on the respective cheeks, so that they are at the same distance to the front edges (about 13cm). Then you screw the legs with 4 screws each with the respective cheeks. The rear legs are then mounted at a distance of 44 cm to the front legs.

Then you screw the upper backrest onto the back legs. If you want the backrest to be a bit steeper, take the top point, and if the backrest is to be a bit flatter, you use the bottom point for screwing. I opted for a shallower angle.

The Backrest

To make screwing easier, I recommend you to attach a small board with two clamps to the lower part of the seat. Then you can easily arrange and align the individual bars of the backrest. After you have aligned them evenly, you can attach these strips to the lower and upper backrest in the curve. If you later run out of space when mounting the armrest, you must forcibly remove the backrest and reinstall it.


The Armrest

Now you attach the armrest to the front leg with two screws. Please make sure that the recess at the back fits well. Then you attach this also on the rear leg. Then align the support with the appropriate holes from above on the front leg, mark the points and pre-drill the holes into the leg. Then you can attach it through the pre-drilled holes with screws.


As stated above, you can make the chair higher or wider, without additional components! To make the chair a little higher, only the legs need to be extended, so the seat will be higher.

Example: 10cm higher

Parts Changes
2 x Legs (Front) 520 mm
2 x Legs (Back) 660 mm

To get the seat a little wider, these components need to be changed.

Example: 5 cm wider

Parts Changes
1 x cross strive (Front) 560 mm
1 x cross strive (Back) 520 mm
1 x Backrest (Bottom) 560 mm
1 x Backrest (Top) 610 mm
12 x Seat rails 560 mm
Meine Mutter (BJ 50) und mein Vater (BJ 45) haben fast 3 Stunden daringesessen und das ohne Kissen.

Ich wünsche viel Spaß beim Nachbauen und anschließendem gemütlichen Beisammensitzen. 


Gruß Klaus Schaefer 

AuthorKlaus Schäfer
Reading time15 minutes

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