Jake's Adirondack Chair Plans
Jake's Adirondack Chair Plans
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Adirondack Chair aka "Jake's Chair"

After searching for days on the internet for an adirondack chair plan I liked, I happened across the plans for Jake's Chair. The designer's website is here. What a great chair, a great story of days past and a great job by the man that reproduced this chair from his memory. His plans are detailed detailed enough for the beginner (me), but leave enough to the imagination so that the construction still requires thought and decisions making it interesting to build. After building this one, I assure you, there will be many more. To cut the templates and build the chair to the point ready for stain took one 3 day weekend, approx. 37 hours. Yes I work late on the weekends.

This chair was built in November 2004 as a Christmas present for a friend that we go camping with that cannot use a standard lawn or camp chair. Watching this friend use the concrete picnic bench made me uncomfortable sitting in my reclining lawn chair so I decided to build a custom chair. I deviated from or added to the plans in several areas, detailed later, to make the chair stronger.

Being my first chair it is built from select knot free pine purchased at Lowe's, figuring on making plenty of mistakes I thought it would be cheaper than redwood, and will be sealed with 5 year exterior redwood stain/sealer and then three coats of exterior spar urethane. All mating surfaces are glued with polyurethane glue on bare wood, I was afraid that staining/sealing first would interfere with the glued strength of the joints.

Tom's plans for Jake's chair includes a discussion of material purchasing. I used his list based on 8" wood:

  • 5 ea. 1" x 8" x 8'
  • 2 ea. 1" x 10 x 6'
The extra 1" x 10" x 6' was to double the seat frame thickness which I needed for strenth. This amount of wood was sufficient to build even the extra bracing for under the chair but not for the bench outlined in the plans. I still need to purchase one more piece to put a brace between the front legs.

A comment on screws; Use regular wood screws, not deck screws. In a few places I used galvanized deck screws because I had a lenght on hand in a couple of places needing longer grip and they break much easier from the torque required to drive them than regular wood screws. All screws used for my chair were #8. I used 1 1/4" and 2 1/2" except for 1 5/8" deck screws in a few places. In all cases I used 2 1/2" wood screws when possible, but that takes a lot of care in drilling pilot holes straight in 3/4" wood.

Jake's Adirondack Chair Plans
The plans call for the seat frame to be made from 3/4" material. I doubled that by gluing and screwing two together to make one. 1 1/4" #8 wood screws and polyurethane glue. Note that the screw holes are counter sunk and filled with wood putty. All my edges for this chair were rounded with a 5/16" rounding bit.
Jake's Adirondack Chair Plans
Here are all the pieces for the frame, sanded with 120 grit and a vibrating sander. Note that nothing is stained at this point as I am very concerned with strong glue joints. I don't know if this is the best way to go about this or not, just passing along what I did. I someone with more experience (easy to be more experienced than me) has some input please email me.
Jake's Adirondack Chair Plans
The first step in the plans is to assemble the lower seat back support to the seat frame. The plan drawings say to adjust the width of the ear to the thickness of the material used. In my case that was 1 1/2" since I doubled the thickness of the seat frames. #8 2 1/2" screws were used and I later filled the holes and seams with wood putty and sanded to a smooth finish.
Jake's Adirondack Chair Plans The next step is to install the first seat slat which is the only one that is 2" wide. Followed by the corner brackets which can been seen in the next photo between the lower seat support and the slats.
Jake's Adirondack Chair Plans
Next the eleven 1 1/2" wide seat slats. I did not space the first three apart as in the instructions and the rest of them are spaced 1/8" apart. In my case if the first three had been spaced out I would not have had room to install the screws for the last slat that goes under the edge of the lower seat back support. I later used a jig saw to carefully cut the slot between the slats that were not spaced to allow water and debris to fall through.
Jake's Adirondack Chair Plans
Here the chair is propped up on a 10 1/2" board to install the front legs. I did not pay attention to the angle cut on the back/bottom of the seat frame which is 18 degrees according to the plan. I may have cut the angle wrong or sanded it out of where it was supposed to be but after assembly I found that it did not sit flat. Also, I am 5' 6" and my wife is 5' 2" and when sitting in the chair my feet touch fine but my wife's do not. She will need the footstool. Changing the angle on the seat frame and mounting the chair lower may be necessary to accomodate much shorter folks. You will definately want to shorten the length of the front legs if you do this as they are at the maximum height for comfort without a cushion for someone of our short height. They are located to work with or without a seat cushion and are fine if the legs are not shortened.
On my next chair I will bring the four holes that mount the legs to the frame a little closer to each other as this location puts them pretty close to the edges of the frame.
Jake's Adirondack Chair Plans Here the arm supports are installed on the legs (prior to installing the legs) and the front legs installed on the frame. Note the clean lines the chair has with the holes filled.
This is also a good shot of the corner braces in their installed location.
Jake's Adirondack Chair Plans
Here is my solution to locating the arm runners level with the chair and the ground. You must first check the level of your bench and then match the bubble if doing it this way.
Notice the black plastic squeeze clamps, they are cheap and come in VERY handy. I used all four of them several times during this project.
Jake's Adirondack Chair Plans
Not having cut the seat back pieces yet, I clamped a piece of scrap to set the angle of the upper seat back. The lower screw is drilled per the drawing and the back corner of the support is located just inside the lower corner of the arm runner. I did this solo but an extra set of hands for this step would come in handy.
Jake's Adirondack Chair Plans
Once the angle of the upper seat support is set you must locate the second screw. I used an adjustable combo square on the inside of the runner, on top of the upper support to measure the angle. The clamp was used to locate the end of the square head so I could repeat the location when it was moved to the other side of the runner. The top edge of the support was then marked on the outside of the runner then measured down 3/8" (for 3/4" material) to locate the pilot hole.
Jake's Adirondack Chair Plans
Here is where you find out how good a job you did laying and cutting square your front legs, arm runners and arm supports. I had to sand the tops of these pieces to get the arms to lay perfectly flat across all three of them.
I laid out my own hole pattern to attach the arms then glued and screwed them with 2 1/2" screws for strength. If you choose to use the longer screws be very carefull to keep you pilot holes straight so they don't come out the side.
Jake's Adirondack Chair Plans
Jake's Adirondack Chair PlansThese next two pics are the finished frame ready for the back. I think the one on the right looks sort of like Star Trek Next Generation Enterprise.
Jake's Adirondack Chair Plans
A couple of notes on laying out and cutting the seat back. I used a nylon string to draw the radius which stretches a little with pressure. If you are carefull it will work but be sure and keep the slats in order the way you drew them. Minor differences in the circle will show up after you cut them if they are not installed in order. As will all my outside radiuses, I cut outside the line and then sanded to the line with my 4" belt / 6" disc bench sander. A great tool, if you do much of this work at all get one, you'll love it for the time and effort savings.
Jake's Adirondack Chair Plans
Jake's Adirondack Chair Plans A couple of shots of the finished back. This is the best looking adirondack chair I think I've seen. Lots of gracefull curves but no compound miters and can be built with basic hand tools. If you don't have a router as listed in the plan tool list you can accomplish the same rounded edges with a sander if you are carefull. They just won't be as uniform as if done with a router.
Jake's Adirondack Chair Plans
Couple of big deviations from the plan here. Improvements listed at the end of the construction text tells of adding a 1/4" - 20 carriage bolt to the outside two slats through the upper back support to keep it from breaking out. I added these after installing the slats with screws which is fine as all my holes are filled. This worked very well but I was concerned about additional support so I added a 1/8" thick by 1/2" wide strip of aluminum, glued with polyurethane glue and one screw behind each seat back slat. Yes, I should have put it under the 1/4" nut on each carriage bolt on the ends but hey, at 3 AM I feel lucky to get it on straight! I was not able to get the extra long screws into the ends of the upper supports as the plans suggest because the carriage bolts were in the way. Didn't matter as I added supports to the underside of the upper support running down to the chair frames.
Jake's Adirondack Chair Plans Jake's Adirondack Chair Plans Jake's Adirondack Chair PlansJake's Adirondack Chair Plans
Above are shots of the additional bracing I put under the seat. Don't know about my engineering skills but the idea is to tie all of the seat slats together with screws and glue, supported by the cross piece which must pull in the 1 1/2" sides for the seat to sag. Will have to see how it works.
Jake's Adirondack Chair Plans
Relaxing in the chair before applying the finish. This shot gives a good idea of the size of the chair. I'm 5' 6" tall and weigh 197lbs.

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