Norm's Adirondack Chair

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Now then, where were we? Ah yes, I'd made the templates.

The back legs have the end cut at an angle to sit flat on the floor, but I did not cut this angle on the template. This left me an area in which I could drill a hole for fixing the template to the workpiece. The angle can be cut afterwards.

The fixing holes on all the other templates are located where screws are going to go later, so they won't show in the finished chair.

drilling template fixing holes.JPG

I've made the arm bracket a bit deeper than in the plans, because it looked a bit weedy to me, and I'm going to shape the back slats differently, but otherwise this is going to be a straight copy of Norm's.

To shape all the curved components I use two machines in tandem. The bandsaw is set up with a notched single-point fence (so I suppose it then becomes a double-point fence...)

notched fence.JPG

and the router table has a trim cutter fitted with both a top- and a bottom-bearing. In this way I can rough out the shape of the component on the bandsaw, leaving just a mm or so excess,

roughing out wide.JPG

roughing out closeup.JPG

then flush trim on the router table. By altering the height to use either the top bearing or the bottom one, I can ensure that I am always cutting with the grain.

The downside of this is that I don't automatically get the bevels needed on the upper and lower back supports, but sorting that out with a spokeshave and sliding bevel is not onerous.

spokeshave bevel.JPG

testing bevel.JPG

Some of the edges are left square, others are eased to soften them. The arms have a 1/2” roundover on the top face and a 3/16” roundover for most of the underside, leaving the back ends of the arms square so that I don't create a place for water to sit.
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I started the assembly in two stages – a front sub-assembly and a rear sub-assembly. The front one consists of both front legs and the front rail, which is screwed in from the outside faces of the two front legs. I know this is screwing into end-grain, but there is no force pushing the sides apart, and anyway, there will be several seat slats tying the sides together.

The rear sub-assembly consists of both back legs and the lower back support. I have to be careful keeping this square as the reference face (the back leg) and the cross rail are not in the same plane, so there is an element of best-guess here.

Norm bolts his back legs to the front ones, but I think this is unnecessary. Coachbolts are not very pretty (even good-quality, well-finished ones like the those I have bought), but, with a good D4 adhesive, I'm confident that three screws will be just as solid. And much prettier. These three screws are inserted from the inside and do not need to be counterbored.

attaching front leg.JPG

All the others in this build are counterbored and will be plugged later.

Next up, the seat slats. I've altered the front slat slightly, making it about 3/4” wider and rounding off the front edge. This allows it to overhang the front a little, which I think looks better, and have a softer edge behind my knee.

front slat.JPG

The rear slat is installed temporarily – it will have to come off when I attach the back splats – but I need it to work out the spacings of the rest of the slats. When the other 4 seat slats are pushed together, the total gap is 55mm. That has to be spread over 5 gaps, so each one is 10.5mm. I found a piece of scrap about 10mm thick and added a few turns of masking tape to get it to 10.5mm. I could then use this as a spacer while screwing the seat slats down.

The arm brackets are glued and screwed to the front legs. The arms are going to be screwed down into the tops of the legs and this is where I have a bit of a problem. I was always taught that screwing into end-grain was a no-no. Yes, I've already done it fixing the front legs to the front rail, but there are no forces pulling that joint apart. Here it is different, this chair is bound to be picked up by the arms, so a considerable amount of its weight is going to be pulling on those screws. Yes there are three of them, but they are going into the endgrain by only about 25mm, which doesn't seem very much to me.

So I am strengthening the joint by inserting oak cross-dowels into the face of the front legs, so that the screws will actually biting into face-grain, not entirely end-grain.

trimming cross dowels.JPG

Fitting the arms is the easiest thing to get wrong, I reckon. Fixing the front ends to the tops of the legs is straightforward,

fix front end first.JPG

but getting the back support dead central is tricky; it would be easy to end up with a skewed structure. So I installed the front screw into the front legs and a single screw at the back. I then measured diagonals, screw to screw, until both readings were the same and then installed the rest of the screws.

check diagonals.JPG

I removed the rear support, applied glue and re-installed it.

Then I read the instructions...

Apparently this is designed to have the arms overhang the rear support by 1/4” each side. This keeps the arms parallel. Mine are 1/2” narrower at the back than the front because I made the arms flush with the rear support, and this has consequences for the positions of the back splats.

Fortunately, in my particular case, it doesn't matter, because I was planning to alter the back splats anyway. Norms are parallel and have individually rounded tops. Mine are going to be tapered and have a continuous curve across the top. I did this on my previous Adirondacks and I think it looks better that way. So this little cock-up doesn't matter. Dodged a bullet there, I think.
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My major failing is measuring and marking (yes, I know there others :roll: ) so I spent an inordnant amount of time measuring those three holes on the arms for the bracket supports.
After drilling the holes, I dry assemble the chair and found They were back to front.
So I had to drill another three holes and plug the useless ones. (hammer)

after finishing and plugging all the screws, I had 6 plugs on each arm. :roll:
A lovely clear description as ever, Steve. It's interesting to watch you at work like this.
To me, it looks so much more of a faff to make a set of templates, then rough out components, then trim them. Would you ever just draw out the shape on one part, bandsaw, then trim back freehand? Followed by drawing round the finished part to mark out its matching counterpart.

I can see how templates and guided router bits make sense for quantities, but not for a one off.

Nice tip about wrapping tape round a block to make it fractionally bigger . There's always something to learn from watching along.
Andy, if you have no intention of making more than one, a template is not needed, but if youre going to make a pair or a set..... I ended up making 4 chairs and the love seat. I've kept the templates. The next one can be made in a day. 8)
That's a fair point, Andy. But I am making a pair and I'm pretty sure that my mate Charlie is going to want a pair, too.

I've done a bit more this afternoon, made the back splats and screwed one in place. So I've been able to have a "maiden sit". I hope I get to like it. It feels a bit deep, TBH. I might alter the side legs to be cut from 8" board rather than a 6" one. That way the back of the seat would be higher and the back could be steeper, not so laid back. Unfortunately I have glued some fairly key joints, so taking it apart is not an option.

But we'll see what it is like when it's complete.
I did find that it was tricky to get back out of. I'm just over 6ft tall and my old legs needed assistance from my arms. But once in, It was amazing how comfortable a bare wooden chair can be. I sold two purely on the guy sitting in one, after had said he didnt like the look of them.
To be honest Steve, I dont think raising the seat will help much, its the amount of laid back angle that makes it difficult.
One friend, a lady in her early 60's but very short , actually had to be helped out. :roll: :lol:
I've altered the shape of the back-splats from Norm's original, making them tapered (85mm down to 58mm, and I think they could go a bit more). I counterbored the bottom ends for two screws and installed the centre splat. I rested them in place until I thought they looked right and chose a gap of 20mm between them at bottom rail level.

splat layout.JPG

The centre splat went in first, then the intermediate slat with just one screw, then the outermost splat. Again with one screw. At this point I discovered a problem. The bottom ends are not horizontal now, because of the splay, but the bottom back rail is.

bottoms of splats.JPG

There is the risk that a screw will poke out of the underside. Fortunately that did not happen, but next time I shall use a single central screw – it will be plenty strong enough.

The splats were then splayed out evenly and screwed to the upper back rail. I just eyeballed it.

drilling splats.JPG

I wanted a smooth curve across the top. It's easy if you have another pair of hands around, but I am working solo, so I clamped a couple of blocks in place and sprung a ruler against them.

marking curve.JPG

I didn't realise until I'd finished that that gives me something more akin to a parabola than a circular arc. It's not quite what I intended, but I'm happy with it. Next time I'll try a trammel and see if that looks better.

Then it was dismantling, bandsawing, rounding over, sanding, reinstalling and plugging lots of holes. That took ages, actually.

bandsawing curve.JPG

softening edges.JPG


Mostly I took great care to make sure that the grain matched as best I could get it, but one turned round of its own accord when I wasn't looking.

trimmed plugs.JPG

After a good clean-up they are both finished.


Verdict? They are very comfortable once I am in, but they are rather a long way down and still a bit laid back for my liking. I blocked up the back legs by 60mm and the front by 20mm and I preferred the feel of it. It is also plenty wide enough, I don't exactly feel cuddled by it, so I think I could easily reduce the width by 12 or 15mm, probably more.

My mate Charlie came round yesterday and sat in the first one. He gushed suitably and ordered two. So I've told him that if he pays for the materials and gives me a hand with the graft, he can have these two and I get the chance to make mine how I prefer. We are both happy with that. It just means I have some Sketchup work to do before I cut my new legs.


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You had me going with that first pic. I thought you were going to have the taper one sided fan shape. :roll:
I fell foul of the double screws poking through the back rail. I had to shape a second rail and add it underneath to cover the screws. I came to the same conclusion as you on the others and used only one screw.

Now you need the footstool, and the beer table. =D>
Steve Maskery":58e4rw02 said:
It just means I have some Sketchup work to do before I cut my new legs.

I think your legs look just fine Steve. The chair looks fabulous too.
Nothing Norm made could EVER be that ugly :roll: It looks like something Fatty Arbuckle sat in. (hammer)
I'm guessing SunnyBob hasn't really ever heard of or seen much of David Savage's work
Youre guessing that ugly is in the eye of the beholder, and that chair is so ugly I am happy to have never seen anything else by the same man.
It might well be a technical masterpiece (from my standpoint, almost everything is a technical masterpiece), but if I owned it and couldnt sell it it would be on the fire the same day.
Just because it CAN be done, doesnt always mean it SHOULD be done. :roll: 8)
Lovely job Steve, just a shame you didnt do it a year earlier and save me all of the mistakes that you mention, and I made all of them. (y)
As per usual Steve, lovely clear WIP (are the pix "just" stills from your YT vid, or taken separately with a stills camera?). And the YT vids, all three, are VERY good too IMO.

With my own woodworking knowledge (I will NOT use the word"skill" in my case) I hesitate to question an acknowledged "Master", but frankly I thought you got into a bit of a pickle with enlarging & marking out those templates in part 1. And why mark the 1 inch grid onto the wood itself? Surely on paper/cardboard would be much more accurate?

But these days, everyone has a PC of some sort, and therefore has the possibility to easily enlarge/reduce complex shapes (though IMO Matthias Wandell's "Big Print" is by far and away the best available - usual disclaimers).

And not only that, ignoring PCs, from my model aero days, I learnt to enlarge such curves by measuring then scaling up/down where the curved outline crosses each grid line.

I do appreciate that with chairs and such, MOST of the curves and angles are not critical (they very well could be in aircraft, especially with to-scale modelling), but especially in the video it all seemed a bit laborious to me.

Sorry, just a comment, NOT meant as a real criticism.

Now I must watch your bench YT vids (P.S. I did "Like" and "Subscribe" on YT, so can I have a ride in your Roller when it gets delivered next week"?) :)
As per usual Steve, lovely clear WIP (are the pix "just" stills from your YT vid, or taken separately with a stills camera?).
They are Stills, Andy. In fact they are part of this thread.
And the YT vids, all three, are VERY good too IMO.
Thank you. Not everybody seems to think so. Someone, I don't know who, watched the first one and Disliked it. Then because he didn't like it, he watch Part 2 and Disliked that too. And because he'd watched two films he didn't like, he decided he must watch the last episode and Disliked that too. WHY?????
With my own woodworking knowledge (I will NOT use the word"skill" in my case) I hesitate to question an acknowledged "Master", but frankly I thought you got into a bit of a pickle with enlarging & marking out those templates in part 1. And why mark the 1 inch grid onto the wood itself? Surely on paper/cardboard would be much more accurate?
If I had access to a plotter, then I would have just printed them out and stuck them on, but this way can be done with no tech whatsoever
...can I have a ride in your Roller when it gets delivered next week"?) :)
LOL! I wish! YouTube's rather onerous rules mean that I don't get a penny out of any of this. I have to DOUBLE the watch-hours before they will even consider paying me a sou. (It has to be 4k HOURS in the previous 12 months. I run at about 2.1K)
That's why Sharing is so important. So far, there have been just 300 views of all three films COMBINED, and that includes putting it on my own Facebook page and the Facebook equivalent of UKW. It's nothing. It needs to be 300,000. No Roller for me, I fear.
The chairs that the two American guys made look to have a very thin front legs to me. On a related issue these rocking deck chairs are superbly comfortable but take forever to make. Ian
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@Steve Maskery: Well I certainly can't understand YT "likers/dislikers" mate. I'm just a YT watcher (of certain carefully selected channels eh!) 👍

At risk of going on (and on ..........) a huge advantage of Wandell's Big Print (again, usual disclaimers) is that you don't need any sort of "plotter" (or anything else fancy) at all. I've used it on 4 separate printers, 3 ink jet (including an old A3 machine, now defunct) and a B&W Laser which is "only" A4.

Cheers mate.