Saturday, June 27, 2015

Adirondack Chairs

Adirondack chairs, as we commonly consider them are classic fixtures of deck, beach, or other summertime outdoor seating. They also pretty universally suck. Don't get me wrong, the design has some good things going for it. They have a pleasing curve across the top; they lend themselves to painting, staining, or clear coating to match your personal taste. The wide arm rests make a great resting spot for your summery hootch of choice. They have a rugged, durable, character that makes them just fit on a deck or dock by the bay.

Really they only have one problem, but in the art of chairmaking it is the most important characteristic (assuming, of course that you have any intention of actually sitting in the chair): They're uncomfortable. The issue is that the seat angles up, making you want to lean back, and the chair back angles back for you to recline against. The seat angle makes it uncomfortable to sit forward, and the chair back angle is too often too much of  recline.

Solution: Reduce the chair back angle. Also, build eight in one big Chairapalooza.

The Adirondack chair as we commonly think of it was patented in 1938.

Thanks google!
As you can see, our design deviates from the 1938 Wolpin Patent design. Again, the primary distinction between our design and the "traditional" design is that we reduced the recline angle to 95 degrees, which is only slightly tipped back from upright (although five degrees does still allow for a good amount of recline). The other deviations are largely either aesthetic, our seat slats don't curl over the front of the seat and our back slats are parallel to each other rather than radiating out from a the seat, or practical, how we put thing together, e.g. bracing and such.

We built ours out of cedar. Cedar is great for exterior applications because it is naturally rot-resistant. It also has appealing grain patterning with hues of lightly red-tinted browns. It's very lightweight and stable as well.

A person could finish their Adirondack chairs with paint or stain of any color under the sun. My brother-in-law is painting his. I decided to clear coat mine with a marine varnish, Epifanes Clear Gloss. This finish was designed for use on boats, and should be UV and water resistant to help augment cedar's naturally rot-resistant qualities. The marine varnish lends a glossy golden hue to the cedar.

These chairs are expensive to buy and get any level of quality. L.L. Bean sells them for $299, Kohl's has one for only $623.99 (on sale from $779.99; it's practically a steal!) that's made from a synthetic wood look-a-like substance. I humbly submit that I make at least a L.L. Bean-quality chair. I would sell them for $300/each, unfinished. We could negotiate finish options, but it's hard to quote a price sight-unseen as there are literally so many options.

Lastly, I would love it if someone wanted one made of teak, so I'll cut anyone out there a deal. You buy the teak, I'll build the chair. You pay for my material, that's it, and you get a chair.

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