Cherry Adirondack Chairs
Made some Adirondack chairs for my grandparents as a first woodworking project. I used cherry wood and finished them with a natural stain.
I just got into woodworking and for my very first project I decided I wanted to make Adirondack chairs for my grandparents. Here are the finished chairs, it took about 6 weeks of weekends to put together but I think they came out really good. I made a few mistakes but overall I am very happy with the results. I based the design off of a design I found in fine wood working magazine, it was one of the only designs I found that had space for cup holders which I really wanted to incorporate.
The design was from fine wood working magazine summer 2013 edition.
The first thing I did was to mock up the rough dimensions in sketchup so I could figure out how much wood to buy.
Once I had the rough dimensions I used a plug in I found called Cut List to generate a cut list and give me a rough idea of what to buy. And I mean rough, once I got to the lumberyard it became clear that I wasn't going to get a bunch of 6ft boards and call it a day and I had to wing it. I ended up with 1 extra 6ft board.
Another output of Cut List.
Here are the chairs as they started out. About $500 worth of cherry. I picked cherry because I love the color and I had read that it was relatively rot resistant. This was mistake #1: once I got to the finishing stage, it became clear that as much as I loved the cherry color if I wanted a finish that would last more than a couple of months outside I was going to need to pigment it. I could have saved a couple hundred dollars and gone with a cheaper wood. If I end up making some for myself they will be made of a cheaper wood and painted. Paint is the ultimate outdoor finish. I bought all the wood from Highland Hardwoods in Brentwood New Hampshire.
It was soooo pretty though. I wanted to eat it.
Rough dimensions! First time using a table saw. It actually wasn't that bad. I don't want to lose my fear of it but overall I think the router table scared me more.
Everything roughly cut and labeled.
And the rest of the owl! Here are all the pieces after shaping.
Mistake #2: I made the pieces on top when I needed the pieces on the bottom. 16 inches vs 19 inches. Part of the reason it happened was because I wasn't thinking about what each piece was in the final product, that would have made me second guess myself. I saved the small ones for a future project, make a small table.
Beginning assembly. I used all stainless steel fasteners. I wanted to keep the screws exposed so I used Robertson heads and countersunk all the holes.
1 Assembled seat.
2 Assembled seats! Also Mistake #3: I had started putting the slats on from the front backward without keeping the back parallel, the further back I went the more off my pieces were until I noticed I couldn't put the next slat on. I had to take it all apart and redo it once I caught it.
Front legs. Pretty consistent. I used the bandsaw for pretty much all my angled cuts and odd shapes.
Front legs attached. Also Mistake #4: I didn't do cabinet makers triangles or anything on the seat slats as I attached them so when I inevitably had to remove them I couldn't remember which piece went where and it took some trial and error.
Back and arms attached, all that was missing was the back slats.
Mistake #5: doing 2 chairs at once. I got a great sense of accomplishment from the first chair only to sigh when I realized I had to do everything all over again. It might have been better to start with something smaller and singular.
Back slats attached!
And attached again! I used an awl with a string tied to it and a pencil tied to that to draw a curve on the boards this may have been Mistake #6: I think it would have been cleaner to draw the radius with the boards flat on the workbench.
The curved backs all cut, also the keen eye may notice Mistake #7: I was moving too fast with the bandsaw and some of the tops got lopped off quite a bit below my line. The second slat from the right is noticeably longer because of this.
Cup holders! These were a must have. I used stainless steel marine cup holders with a weep-hole in the bottom because I knew these chairs would be next to a swimming pool and I figured the rain and condensation would run out too. These are the cup holders I bought: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0097MF4DU/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Fast forward to finishing. Sanding. This sucked. Easily my least favorite part of the project I spent about 3-4 hours with a random orbit sander and some 80 grit sheets (per the stain manufacturers instructions) If I had to go to 120 or 240 I probably would have never finished these chairs, that is how much I hated this part. I made pencil marks and then sanded the surfaced until they were gone. Afterwards I wiped all the pieces with mineral spirits to clean the dust off.
Pin boards! Painters pyramid would have been incredibly impractical for this project as they are about $5 for 10 at my local home depot, considering that would support about 2 1/2 pieces that would be a lot of pyramids. Instead I bought some half sheets of OSB for about $6 and loaded it up with finishing nails. This let me stain all the sides at once avoiding unsightly overlaps. Mistake #8: is definitely take the time to make the nails even and don't skimp on the nails. It was incredibly frustrating when pieces fell off the pins. I can say that I saw absolutely no noticeable marks from where the nails touched the wet stain.
Fast forward again to the staining process. I used Sikkens Cetol DEK natural finish, which I think came out awesome. I wiped it on with rags, I am a little worried that wiping it on may have made the coats too think but I have no idea. I did 2 coats with 24 hours drying time in between coats per manufacturers instructions.
Pieces were batched out since even with 4 pin boards I couldn't do everything at once.
Final assembly! I was starting to get really excited by this point.
And they are done! They came out so nice I wanted to keep them!
I was so excited I had to try to take my first selfie.
My grandparents testing them out! They had no idea I was making them.