New Yankee Workshop Adirondack Chair

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.

The chair, seven year later.

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.

 

– Steve Shanesy

6 thoughts on “New Yankee Workshop Adirondack Chair

  1. Grantman

    I helped a buddy make an Adirondack glider a couple of years ago out of Western Red Cedar (http://lumberjocks.com/projects/40775). We used brass screws, not stainless. He says it’s holding up fine. I’ve been thinking of making one but out of white oak. Anyone have any thoughts on other species for outdoors? Mahogany? Ipe? Redwood? Anything else?

    Thanks.

    1. farnbacd

      Hey Grantman,
      First of all, what a beauty of a piece there on lumberjocks. Thanks for that!
      My vote is for mahogany — I always think it looks right in its place outside. And it’s a fun sort of challenge to work with.
      Also, do you want to post this same question on the Popular Woodworking Facebook page? We might be able to get a broader discussion going, with more input and votes for you. (I’m the new Online Editor … happy to help.)
      Dan

  2. macbaffin

    These are the most comfortable Adirondack chairs available. They are slightly higher making them easier to get in and out. Living in TX, am using Tx cedar, glueing all joints with Titebond III, countersunk screws and plugs. I modified the joint between the arm rest and upper back brace to mortise and tenon, and use 7/8″ thickness on all parts except front legs, using 1″. Finally I apply Sikken’s Cetol 1, 3-coat process. Long lasting, no loose joints, and very good looking.

  3. ChrisArt

    I also built mine from cedar about 10 years ago and the softer wood is making for wobbly joints. I used Titebond to glue up the wider boards & it’s holding up fine. The vertical arm supports are splitting at the bottom from being dragged around the patio. Chamfering the edges probably would have helped.

  4. Tom8021

    I made mine out of pine thinking painting it would protect it. Well over the years just about every board has been replaced and a new coat of paint every two to three years. They are without a doubt the most comfortable chair I have.

    I have been thinking to remake them in cypress, when the paint build up on the old chairs isn’t manageable any more. Of course if I keep replacing pieces they might last quite a few more years.

  5. BaileyNo5

    These are nice-looking and extremely comfortable chairs. I built three of them around 1995 and they are still hanging around. Western red cedar was readily available, cypress was not, so cedar it was. They are holding up fine in terms of rot, but getting wobbly at the joints. Cypress is better if you can get the good weather resistant stuff, it makes for a sturdier chair.

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