How to Build an Adirondack Chair

A pair of wood Adirondack chairs overlooking a body of water.
What You'll Need
2x6x8 wood planks (in the wood of your choice)
What You'll Need
2x6x8 wood planks (in the wood of your choice)

Adirondack chairs are a classic piece of outdoor furniture. Named for the Adirondack Mountains of New York where they were originally designed, Adirondack chairs are perfect for outdoor entertaining because of their relaxed, reclining design. You can often find them near a fire pit or on a backyard deck.

In stores, the chairs are typically pretty pricey, but don't be intimidated by the sleek look and high price tag of the chairs. If you want some Adirondack chairs but don't want to break the bank, you might want to try this DIY. All you need is a little lumber, some screws, and concentration.

Step 1 - Choose Your Wood

A stack of lumber.

Pick a type of wood that does well outdoors and is fairly lightweight. A common choice is cedar in a 2x6x8 size. A more cost-effective choice is pine, but make sure you seal it if you plan to keep the chair outside.

Step 2 - Form the Frame

To start the frame of your chair, you need four legs that are the same height, two pieces that will sit diagonally between the front and back legs, and a piece that will form the width of your chair.

Step 3 - Design the Diagonals

With the diagonal pieces, round the ends of the planks for that classic adirondack look. These will sit on the ground and look like slanted legs, but will really be attached to the back legs.

Step 4 - Add Some Screws

Screw the front of the chair legs to the cross pieces. Then, add the rounded diagonal pieces. The front of the diagonal pieces will be at the top of the front legs and the rounded end of the diagonal will be at the bottom of the back legs.

Step 5 - Create Seat Slats

Cut boards the same size as the width of your chair frame. These will be your seat slats.

Step 6 - Make a Gap

With a jigsaw, cut a crescent-shaped curve into one of the seat slats in the shape you would like the back of the chair to fit. Then cut another slat to match like a puzzle, with about a 1 ¾ inch gap between the two pieces. This is where the chair back will sit.

Step 7 - Bevel the Gap

Use a jigsaw to bevel the edges of your cut at an angle of about 10 degrees so the chair back will recline properly.

Step 8 - Curve and Bevel

Cut the same curve into two other pieces—one that will span the width including the arms and one that will span the width of just the seat back. The bevel on these pieces should be steeper (about 25 degrees). These will form the braces that keep the chair from breaking when you lean back in the seat.

Step 9 - Sure it Up

Once you make your specialized cuts in the two seat slats and the braces, you can screw down boards to make the seat. The specially cut boards (Step 6) should be the last two slats.

Step 10 - Brace the Back

Next, screw down the lower brace to the back legs.

Step 11- Attach the Arms

Round the end of two planks to make arms for the chair. Secure them with screws to the front legs and lower brace.

Step 12 - Lean it Back

Space out 5 of your boards in the ¾ inch gap you made in the seat slats. Fan them out and decide which shape you would like to make the backing of the chair. Most adirondack chairs have a curved back. Make your desired cuts. Slide the boards in the gap you made on the seat slats.

Step 13 - Brace the Back

Secure the chair back to the shorter beveled brace as well as the longer one you previously attached to the back legs (Step 10).

Step 14 - Add Finishing Touches

An Adirondack chair with red paint.

When you finish securing all the pieces, you should have a sturdy Adirondack chair. Then you can paint, stain, or seal to your heart's desire. Just make sure your final layer is weatherproof.