Build Adirondack Chairs

  • Build Adirondack Chairs

Enjoy your favourite spot in the sun with a classic style of garden seating that has stood the test of time. 

Settle into one of these timber chairs and you’ll appreciate why the iconic design, first seen in 1903, is still such a popular choice for garden and patio seating. 

Developed by Thomas Lee while on holiday in the Adirondack Mountains, northeastern USA, the chair became an instant hit with locals and its fame spread rapidly.

This chair and love seat combo is ideal for outdoor lounging. Make them in a weekend for just over $200, and you’ll have classic furniture that will be enjoyed for many seasons to come. 

We used radiata pine because the chairs were not going to be exposed to the elements. It’s inexpensive, easy to work with, and takes paint beautifully.

If your chairs will be left outside, use Tasmanian oak, blackbutt, maple, Western red cedar or treated pine. 

TIP Seal all cut surfaces before assembly to ensure longevity. Attach furniture glides to the underside of the legs.

Finish the timber

Once the chairs are assembled, round over all the edges with 180 grit abrasive paper, paying particular attention to the legs and arms. 

Protect the timber by applying a stain, varnish stain, or exterior paint in the colour of your choice. We used two coats of Feast Watson Outdoor Furniture Oil in Teak.  


Use 30mm x 8g exterior timber screws to secure the arm bases and seat support to the legs, and the back braces to the back slats. Use 40mm x 8g galvanised screws for everything else, applying construction adhesive to all joints. 

Choosing a chair back style 

The slatted Adirondack design is well suited to a range of different back styles. If the step-back version doesn’t appeal, the gable or round shape may be more to your taste. 

For the gable back mark a line 40mm from the top centre to 180mm down the side of each outer slat. 

Create the round-back style by marking a centrepoint 380mm down from the top then drawing an arc with a 355mm radius.

Before committing to a shape, sketch your idea on paper and tape it to the chair to see how it will look at full size.

gable back adirondack chair, handyman magazine,
This is a gable back style, for the gable back mark a line 40mm from the top centre to 180mm down the side of each outer slat

step back adirondack chairs, handyman magazine,
Step back Adirondack chairs are highly popular 

round back adirondack, handyman magazine,

Create the round-back style by marking a centrepoint 380mm down from the top then drawing an arc with a 355mm radius


Love seat diagram and cutting list 

The love seat is made in the same way as the chair, except with a wider back and extra seat support in the centre. The wider back necessitates longer braces and seat slats, plus additional back slats.

loveseat diagram, handyman magazine,
Use this diagram to build an Adirondack love seat 
cutting list for love seat, handyman magazine
Use this cutting list to build an Adirondack love seat 


adirondack chair diargam,

seat diagram for adinorack chair, handyman magazine,

diagram or chair arm and leg, handyman magazine,

How to build an Adirondack chair 

Step 1. Secure the stretcher

Mark the notches for the stretcher on the front legs, 265mm up from the base. Make relief cuts then chisel
out the waste. Position with the legs on a level surface, apply construction adhesive in the notches, then position the stretcher and secure with screws.

Step 2. Attach arm supports

Mark 275 x 65mm triangles on the backs of the arms then use a circular saw to cut along the marked line. Align the triangular offcuts with the top and front edges of the legs then drill pilot holes from inside the legs to secure with screws.

Step 3.Secure the back legs

Cut the back legs with opposing 45º mitres and the back of the arm bases with 23º mitres. Secure the arm base at 90º to the front legs. Attach the rear legs to the arm bases using adhesive and screws, making sure the arm bases are parallel to the ground.

Step 4. Add the seat supports

Use the template to mark out the shape of the seat supports then cut out using a jigsaw. Align the square front edge of the seat supports with the back of the stretcher then use adhesive and screws to attach them to both the front and rear legs from the inside.

Step 5. Make the chair back

Cut the two outer slats by marking a diagonal line on a slat, 40mm in from opposite edges, then dividing with a circular saw. Position the back slats on a level surface with 6mm spacers between. Add the braces, securing with adhesive and screws.

Step 6. Secure the back

Turn the chair over and position the back face down, aligning the base of the back assembly with the seat supports and the edge of the back legs. Secure the legs to the lower back brace and the arm bases to the centre back brace using adhesive and screws.

Step 7. Attach the seat slats

Starting from the back, position the seat slats spaced evenly on the seat supports. Drill one pilot hole at each end then secure the slats with screws. Position the last slat with a 10mm overhang and secure to both seat supports and the stretcher.

Step 8. Mark the arm notches

Position the arms on the arm bases, flush with the edge and with 40mm overhang at the front. Use the outer slats to mark the notch position and angle on the inside edge of the arms then mark cut lines to a depth of 25mm.

Step 9. Complete assembly

Use a handsaw to make the angled cuts at the back of the arms, finishing the notches using a chisel. Position each arm with its notch tight against the outer slat. Secure with screws to the arm bases, arm supports and the top edge of the legs.

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