Modern Adirondack Chair
Tom McLaughlin builds a comfortable, contemporary take on the backyard classic
Synopsis: With solid, reinforced joinery, subtle angles throughout, and an uncommonly comfortable seat, this Adirondack chair is more challenging to build than the traditional version, but it is more than worth it. After all, this is a chair that you’ll be relaxing in for years—not just because it’s built to last, but because it’s built for comfort. Tom McLaughlin uses templates to rout the curved pieces, and several clever jigs to make it easier to cut the joinery.
Great for kicking back with a drink and lazing the time away, Adirondack chairs are pretty common on decks and patios and in yards. But they’re often uncomfortable to sit in and hard to get out of, unsightly affairs made either of molded plastic or boards screwed shoddily in place. My version fixes those faults. Built to withstand years outdoors, it’s made of cypress and constructed with solid, reinforced joinery. As for the design, subtle angles echo throughout, including on its arm, which is canted to provide both comfort and a perfect spot for a beverage. And how does it sit? Well, a number of people have remarked, “It’s so comfortable, and I can actually get out of it!”
Start with a full-size drawing and templates
Chairs with curves and angles like this are best made using a full-size drawing, which makes it easy to create accurate templates, precisely locate the mortises, and confirm the various dimensions and angles, which can all shift a bit during a build.
The main routing template is for the side rails, which also serve as the back legs. The template has guide slots for routing the seat rail mortises and the long, curved groove for the seat slats. To…