• We invite you to join UKWorkshop.
    Members can turn off viewing Ads!

Adirondack style chair in sweet chestnut


Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

Eight years ago, I made an Adirondack style chair, using some nice oak I bought at Westonbirt Arboretum. I copied the design of a commercially made cedar chair and wrote up the project here.

The oak chair is still looking fine but the cedar one is decidedly scruffy and uninviting. It's time to make another one. As far as I know, the Friends of Westonbirt can't offer wood for sale at present, while they pursue a big building project. So a trip to a sawmill was in order.

I'd read about Wentwood Timber Centre on here before and thought it sounded interesting. (See post1181307.html#p1181307 in Neil's useful list of timber suppliers.) It's a smallish operation selling native hardwoods. I went and had a look.

It's not hard to find if you follow their clear directions - from Bristol you go over the bridge to Chepstow then turn right off the A48.

It's a friendly place and well set up for the hobby woodworker. They have an old office building with a number of rooms, each of which has a selection of seasoned boards in it. They are arranged by species and thickness, planed on one side and individually priced. You are completely free to take as long as you want, examining all the stock and picking out what you need. On a Tuesday morning, I was the only customer, though some more people arrived as I was leaving.

I liked this, as I find it quite challenging working out how much wood I need. I went armed with a cutting list, but as it's impossible to say in advance how many pieces each board will yield, I needed some time to satisfy myself that I was buying enough, without buying lots more than I wanted.

The selection of species and widths is quite wide, but this does mean that the number of boards of each type is quite low. I was undecided whether to buy oak or chestnut but there weren't enough inch thick oak boards. If you visited just after me you might not have found enough chestnut!

This is one side of the room with sweet chestnut in.


Inch boards are on the left, 32mm boards on the right. Prices include VAT.

Back home, it was time to go over the cutting list again and decide which pieces to cut from which board. I decide this by looking for the biggest pieces first, chalking out each one and ticking it off the cutting list. Then I go over it again, checking dimensions more carefully.

Here's some of the boards being sorted out like this.

For the curved bits, I used a paper template. I could still find two of these from last time, but had to make a new one for the arms. I then drew round the template with a crayon - my rough cutting line is the outside of the crayon and my exact line is where the inside of the wax disappears.

That's all for now; next time will feature some actual cutting. I think this will be a relatively quick project but expect some interruptions and digressions along the way.


When I made mine, I made the front edge rounded over, so that I didn't get a sharp edge in the back of my knees.
Regrettably I don't have any pics, it was pre-digital :(
With all the pieces cut, I did a test dry assembly, then took everything apart again. I should have tidied up the workshop properly, but there was just enough space to spread out all the components, on the bench

on the table saw

and on a Workmate

I then had several peaceful sessions, brushing on the finish. I used Le Tonkinois, which I used on the earlier chair, and wrote about here.

With each piece covered all round and the varnish dry, I reassembled into the major elements of the chair and footstool. These then had some more varnishing.

It's a nice easy finish to use, but even if you are really careful when putting it on, it does tend to leave drips below vertical surfaces later. Here you can see some on the seat, before it got its next layer. It's easy enough to sand these away.

The design is one which folds, which makes it practical to take in over the winter. In use, the chair is held rigid with a a pair of pegs. I turned these, using an offcut of the same wood.

With the varnish dry, I did a full test assembly. I needed to slightly tweak some of the hole positions for bolts and the pegs- in retrospect, it would have been better to clamp it up and make the holes at this stage.

One last digression on this - what to do if you have two 5/8" holes which don't quite line up. An ordinary Irwin pattern auger (with the scribing cutters on the edge) isn't great for this - it tends to want to dive into the hole rather than boring a little moon shape out. But a solid nose bit will bite into the overlapping hole nicely. This is the sort I mean:

- so they are worth buying, if you happen across them.

Anyway, enough about old tools and stuff - here's the chair in its folded state:

and here it is assembled:

In reality, I have a bit more finishing to do and I want to cover some little details such as swapping the wingnuts for stainless shakeproof nuts, and cutting down over-long bolts, but provided the sun comes out again, I plan to put the chair to good use in the garden for the rest of the summer. 8)
Lovely, Andy. I see now why you were happy to have such a sharp corner behind the knee - it doesn't come into play at all, does it?
AndyT":1n9ijrvn said:
provided the sun comes out again, I plan to put the chair to good use in the garden for the rest of the summer
A really professional job, and what better way to relax than to kick back on something you've made yourself.

Andy, I've been thinking about this.
Very beautiful and very comfortable, no doubt.
But how do you actually get in and out? Sit down and stand up? Doesn't the leg rest get in the way?
I have a problem with that with most garden "loungers".
Perhaps you are more supple than I am, it wouldn't be difficult!
See you soon.
Pete, there's a little bit left over, but not enough for a table, so the flat arms will have to do.
Steve, that's a good point. It can be difficult to get up and very tempting to just stay there, once you are installed. But you can just drag the footstool aside, then stand up as normal.
Looks very, very nice. The folding feature is great. I actually bought a Steamer style folding lounge chair at the start of summer. It is some German brand, but probably made in China. I had a fantasy that I would make one at some point to match a bought one, but when it turned up the folding mechanism and shaping involved scared me.

Congrats - great work.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
I made this a few years back - one of Norms with brass hardware from Rockler.
Very, very comfortable.
If anybody fancies making one I’ve got another set of the brassware which I think is no longer available??

In English Oak:

Wow, that is great. I think the hardware is difficult to get now. I might be interested in that hardware at the right price....
Harbo, that's a very smart chair and a much more advanced design with all the curves. Can you remember what size sections you started with?
Here’s a better photo, colours are a bit more realistic

I should have the drawings and templates I made somewhere, the chair is put away in the shed as I’m not allowed to sunbathe.

I’ll check the price, they are solid brass fittings and were quite expensive.

Andy the pieces are up to 1 ½” thick, the arms are 3 ½” wide
The long leg had to be cut from a piece 42” long by 6” wide.
Should be made from teak but I opted for English Oak because of cost.
There’s a video of the make which I should have watched beforehand, it would have made my build so much easier.

Where I live in Italy almost everything is made of local sweet chestnut. I don’t know if it is different to the chestnut you find in the UK but it has an incredible amount of tannin and every time it gets wet drips with brown liquid. I’m not sure how you could treat it toprevent this.
Andy, a nice job.....
second that wood n brass measuring caliper is rather sweet.....
lastly 3'rd photo the nubers in rea ...are theythe price of the board....?
if not can you please give me the prices for a few peices.....
I have a man/tree surgeon/saw miller who I want to use.....be good to have an idea upfront.....