In 2005 I had the good fortune to spend a couple days with Norm Abram at his New Yankee Workshop building one of the program’s most popular projects – an Adirondack chair. Norm and I each built a chair from a plan he developed that was based on a chair his father built years before. It was a memorable experience, needless to say.
Well, that was seven years ago. The chair, which is remarkably comfortable, has been in continuous use since then and always been kept outdoors. It didn’t get much use during our mid-western winters, but it was nevertheless kept outside. Until this year it was under a porch roof but still got wet regularly. So how is it holding up? Unbelievably well, considering it’s been exposed to the elements.
Why is it holding up so well? There are three reasons. First, it’s made from cypress, an excellent material for use outdoors. Second, we used stainless steel fasteners. The chair is mostly screwed and bolted together, but adhesive was used where it would be useful. Norm used 3M Marine Adhesive 5200, but because my chair was shipped back to Ohio for later assembly, I used Titebond III after it arrived. At the time I couldn’t find the 3M product but I see it’s now more widely available. So far, the Titebond III is holding perfectly. By the way, if you’d like to build this chair you can download the magazine article we published about it for a mere $1.99.
For any woodworking project, proper material selection, not just wood but all the materials that go into it, is one key to it’s success and longevity. Most projects don’t have to stand up to the rigors outdoors use, but you must still choose wisely to attain the objectives you set out to achieve.
I never used a drop of finish on the chair. I knew the cypress would turn gray after a time, and it has. In fact, I predicted in my closing comment for the article that in 10 years it would turn completely gray, just like my hair. Turns out neither took that long.