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Adirondack Chair iStock

Anyone who's ever sat in the low-slung seat of an Adirondack chair and sunk into the curve of the fanned back knows there's no cushion-free seat like it. Handy homeowner Jay Davis coveted just such a comfy piece for his yard but wasn't sure if he should make his own or go shopping. "I thought at first it might be easy to build one," he wrote to us, "but looking closely I'm wondering if the angles and curves are too much trouble."

Fear not, Jay. The beauty of the Adirondack chair—which takes its name from the New York mountain camps that snapped up hundreds of the chairs after it was invented in the early 1900s—is its simplicity, as some of the parts do double duty. The beefy seat supports are also the back legs; the wide armrests (perfect for resting a picnic plate or cocktail, by the way) also hold the back support. Assembling a basic one will take less than a day, if you follow the plans we show here. But if you decide to go the retail route, there are dozens of richly stained or brightly painted options. Either way, we promise you'll soon be relaxing in the comfiest seat in the yard.

Shopping list:

  1. 6-inch pressure-treated decking You’ll need about seven 6-footers to make the back slats, arm rests, seat supports, seats slats and front crosspiece.
  2. 4-inch pressure-treated decking Pick up two 6-footers to construct the back braces, front legs, and blocking for the arm rests.
  3. 1-inch pressure-treated baluster You’ll need 44-inches of material for two 22-inch raisers to support the back braces.
  4. 100-grit sand paper
  5. 2-inch deck screws

Steps for Building an Adirondack Chair

Step 1

Assemble the Base

Adirondack Chair Gregory Nemec

Cut the front legs to length and width. Make the seat supports, which are also the back legs. Round off one end of each seat support and angle the other end. Screw the seat supports together with a crosspiece overlapping their angled ends. Attach the front legs to the crosspiece.

Step 2

Start the Seat

Adirondack Chair Gregory Nemec

Cut seat slats the same length as the front crosspiece. Cut a curve into the middle part of one of the slats. Bevel this cut to match the recline of the seat back by angling the jigsaw blade 10 degrees. Make a corresponding cut in another slat to create a 1¾-inch curved gap between the two that will sandwich the back slats. Screw the rear seat slat to the supports.

Step 3

Make the Back

Adirondack Chair Gregory Nemec

Cut two back braces with the same curve as the rear curved-cut seat slat, but with a 25-degree bevel. Cut one to the width of the seat plus the two arms. Cut the other to fit the width of the back. Attach the longer back brace to the top of a piece of 1-inch-wide wood, and screw this riser to the side of the back leg.

Step 4

Attach the Arms

Adirondack Chair Gregory Nemec

Cut two arms with a rounded front. Round over the end of a support block and attach it to the outside of each front leg. Screw the arms to the front legs and longer back brace.

Step 5

Attach the Slats

Adirondack Chair Gregory Nemec

Cut back slats with rounded ends. Arrange them in a fan between the arms. Screw the slats to the rear seat slat and back braces, positioning the shorter brace as high as possible. Screw on the remaining seat slats.