We designed this double Adirondack chair with all of these comforts in mind. The table angles the chairs slightly toward one another, so there's no craning your neck while you chat, and it supports the umbrella. Best of all, the project is easy to build — and to modify. The only tools required are a jigsaw, circular saw and drill, and the whole thing is made of cedar 1x4s and 5/4 decking. If you want to paint the chair (or save a few bucks), you can substitute treated lumber for the cedar. And if you only need a single seat, it's easy to use the chair portion of the design to build just one. Here's how to get started.
Build the chair bases and backs
Cut the back legs, front legs, front crosspiece, back supports, back slats, side trim and seat slats to length. Then, using the dimensions shown in the illustration (see the PDF below), lay out the profiles for one back leg and one front crosspiece. Use a string as a compass to draw the radius on the crosspiece.
Next, cut out the back leg and crosspiece and use these parts as patterns to lay out the rest of the legs, the other crosspiece and both back supports (photo 1). Use a jigsaw or band saw to cut the curved profiles, and use a circular saw or jigsaw and straightedge to cut the straight lines.
Cut the legs, crosspieces and back supports. Make one of each part based on the illustration; then use that piece as a pattern for the other parts.
Assemble both chair bases. Connect the two front legs to the front crosspiece with 2-in. deck screws (photo 2), positioning the top of the front crosspiece 10 in. from the bottoms of the legs. Drill pilot and countersink holes to make driving the screws easier and to prevent splitting the wood.
Assemble each base with exterior-rated glue and deck screws. Keep the front legs square to the ground or work surface.
Next, secure the back legs to the front legs using exterior-rated glue and 1-1/4-in. deck screws. Countersink these screws roughly 1/4 in. into the back legs to ensure a secure connection with the front legs. Set the "nose" of the back legs 4-1/2 in. beyond the front legs. Repeat the same construction process to build the second base assembly.
Next, assemble the chair backs. Position a top back support and a bottom back support 28-1/2 in. apart on a flat surface. Align the bottom edges of the two outer back slats flush with the bottom face of the bottom support. Then position the outside edges 3/4 in. in from the ends of the bottom support and flush with the ends of the top support (photo 3). Attach the outer back slats to the back supports with 2-in. x 6d galvanized finish nails. Drill 1/8-in.-dia. pilot holes through the back slats for each nail. Next, evenly space the two inner boards between the outer boards and attach them with nails. Then cut a 3/4- x 3/4-in. notch in the bottom back corner of the side trim pieces and securely attach them to the outside back slats with 2-in. deck screws.
Attach the back slats to the supports with 2-in. x 6d galvanized finish nails. Then attach the back side trim boards with 2-in. deck screws. Drill pilot holes to prevent splitting the boards.
The top of each backrest is cut to an 18-in.-radius curve. You can modify the look of your chairs by increasing or decreasing the radius.
I marked the radius using a string as a trammel or compass (photo 4). Clamp a scrap board roughly in the middle of the backrest. Drive a screw in the scrap board, centering the screw between the sides and 18 in. from the top of the backrest. Tie a string and pencil to the screw so that the pencil lines up with the center of the top edge of the backrest. Trace the radius on the backrest and use a jigsaw to cut along the radius line.
A string works as a trammel to trace the 18-in. radius on the backrests. Use a jigsaw to cut along the radius line.
Assemble the chairs
The back inside corners of the armrests are notched to fit against the back. Cut the armrests to length. Then cut a 3/4-in.-wide x 1-3/4-in.-long notch in the back inside corner of each armrest. Back-bevel the short side of the notch 32 degrees to match the angle of the backrest (see illustration for detail). Finish the armrests by cutting a 1-in. radius in both front corners of the outer armrests and only the front inside corner of the inner arms.
One person can assemble the chairs by using a wall as a vertical support for the back. Place the base frame on the floor with the back ends of the back legs 6 in. away from the wall. Set the chair-back assembly in the notches on the tops of the back legs and lean the back against the wall to establish the correct back angle. Attach the bottom back support to the back legs with 2-in. deck screws. Then attach the armrests to the front legs and back with 2-in. deck screws (photo 5). The arm brackets that you will install later help to strengthen the connections among the armrests, the front legs and the back assembly.
Use the wall to support the back and establish the back angle. Secure the back assembly to the back legs and the armrests to the front legs and back with 2-in. deck screws.
Next, cut and attach the seat slats. Cut eight 24-in.-long pieces of 5/4 x 6-in. cedar. Use a table saw or a circular saw and straightedge guide (see "Ripping Jig," below) to rip the six narrow seat-slat pieces necessary for each chair. (You'll need 12 total.)
Position one of the wide seat slats on the base, scribe the curve of the back onto it and then cut along the scribe line with a jigsaw. Attach the curved slat and the remaining wide seat slat to the seat assembly with glue and finish nails. Then attach six narrow seat slats in place (photo 6). Space the slats evenly around the curved front edge of the back legs.
Scribe, cut and attach one 1x6 where it butts to the back. Next, evenly space and attach the remaining wide slat and six narrow slats. Drill pilot holes for each nail to minimize splitting.
Build the table
Cut the table frame pieces to size. Tilt the jigsaw or circular saw base 15 degrees to cut the mitered ends. Assemble the frames with 1-1/4-in. deck screws (photo 7).
Assemble the two table frames with 1-1/4-in. deck screws. The outer side piece is cut shorter than the inner side piece to create the 3-1/2-in. inset where the front leg will be connected.
I used a circular saw and ripping guide to cut the tapers on the three top table boards. Attach the table frames by driving screws through the inside face of each chair. The top frame is attached up against the bottom of the armrests, and the lower frame is 4 in. above the floor. Space the top table boards slats evenly across the top frame (photo 8). The spacing is slightly tighter toward the front of the table than the back. Attach the slats with 2-in. x 6d finish nails.
Evenly space the wedge-shape slats across the top frame and attach them with finish nails. Then attach the bottom table boards, which are oriented side-to-side rather than front-to-back.
Cut the bottom table boards to length, mitering each end 15 degrees. Attach the bottom table boards with 2-in. x 6d finish nails. Orienting these boards in line with the chairs (rather than running front-to-back, as the top table boards do) helps to solidify the assembly.
Lay out the profiles of the four arm brackets and cut them out with a jigsaw. Bevel the top edges of the two back brackets 32 degrees. Attach the brackets to the arms, front legs and back side trim with glue and 1-5/8-in. deck screws. Use two screws on each side, making sure these connections are solid; the rear brackets help to hold the back in place.
If you choose to install an umbrella, measure the diameter of the pole and drill support holes through the table boards. Drill the top hole through the middle top board. Insert the pole through the hole and use a level to plumb the pole and locate the position of the hole on the bottom table. If there's not enough room for your drill to bore the lower hole, use a spade-bit extension and work through the upper hole, or remove the bottom table to drill the hole. Place a weighted umbrella base under the table to anchor the umbrella.
Sand all of the surfaces smooth and ease all of the edges. Apply a couple of coats of your favorite exterior finish. You can increase moisture protection by soaking the bottom of each leg in a tray of finish.
Once the finish has cured, find the perfect site and put your project to the test: Grab your favorite book, favorite beverage and favorite friend and enjoy the day!
Even with a table saw, cutting the wedge-shape top table pieces is a challenge. That's where a simple ripping jig comes in handy. Building a rip-cut jig is easy. Attach a straight piece of 1x2 to a scrap of 3/8-in. plywood that's at least 12 in. wide. Place your jig-to-be on a pair of sawhorses, position the base of a circular saw along the 1x2 and rip the plywood. Congratulations! You've just made a jig. To use it, simply place the newly cut edge of the plywood on the cut line you've made on your board, temporarily clamp or screw the jig in place, set your saw to the right depth and make your cut.