Part 1 – On Your Rocker – Making One Adirondack Style

Ever call something by a particular name only to find out later it was known as something else. Sort of like Bob Dylan. His real name in Robert Zimmerman. In a way, the Adirondack chair has that same reputation. It started out as the Westport chair. But some unscrupulous fellow back in the early 1900’s did the old switcheroo.

Started out as a design by Thomas Lee in 1904. He was on vacation with relatives.

Lee’s the fellow who came up the sloping seat and back. The wide armrests may have been the Pièce de résistance. Mr. Lee’s family loved it. So did one of his so-called friends, a guy named Harry Bunnell. Harry was on the skids and asked Tom for the plans so he might make a little scratch at his carpentry shop.

But the “so-called” buddy, without mentioning it to the inventor filed a patent, snatched the furniture right from under Lee’s snout, getting ownership of the concept in 1905.

This One Rocks!

Adirondack Rocking Chair

The sweet thing about making this rocker is that’s it fairly easy to construct. Simple, but you will burn-up around 40-hours to do it. Add another 25-hours to stain, paint or finish the furniture.

The one we’re going to make is for you and your sweetie – a two-seater.

Steady As She Rocks

Before we go any further, an enormous shout-out to Chris Baylor and the folks at They are the best for allowing us to attach a link where you can download an Adobe Acrobat file of the blueprint for this project. The link is here:

  1. Power-up the band saw and bring a 2-by-4 into play. This will be for the base. Check out the 3rd page on the plans. That’ll guide you.
  2. Move over to the compound miter saw and slice a pair of 2-by-4’s, 16-inches long.
  3. Now trim four, 15½-inch 2-by-4’s. These will end-up being attached to each end of the base.
  4. Cut a couple more 2-by-4’s, 42-inches long. They’ll become the top and bottom spreaders.
  5. Adjust the table saw with stacked dado blades. Set it up so you can carve half-lap joints in the pair of vertical sides of the base and at the top and bottom. Be exact. They need to snugly fit (but not be too tight) the width of the joining board but at half of the depth.
  6. Check the fit. O.K.? Drill some starter holes. Lay down a stream of glue. And pluck a few 1¼ -inch deck screws to connect on both ends of the base. Always remember to pre-drill.
  7. Sand the pair of base assemblies.
  8. With that out-of-the-way, look at page 2 of the blueprint. You’ll see that you need to attach the spreaders – centered at top-and-bottom. Use some 2½-inch deck screws.
  9. Back to the compound miter saw.
    • For the bottom part, cut a pair of 2-by-4’s, 22 and an eighth inches tall.
    • Slice another 3 pieces 20-inches long.
    • Two more planks; 29-inches tall, but give them a 15-degree angle at both ends.
  10. At the band saw, check out the blueprint on pages 4-and-5. This is another part that needs to be pretty darned near perfect.
  11. The table saw with the stacked dado blade will need to be positioned to carve half-lap joints at the back, front and bottom pieces. Note the matching 15-degree angle.
  12. Start with the side sections, gluing and screwing ‘em (1¼-inch deck screws). Now, with a few 2½-inch deck screws, connect the seat slat supports as outlined in the plans.
  13. We’re going to attach the structural chair ends to the spreaders.
  14. Returning to the compound miter saw you’ll want to cut a couple of 1-by-4’s, 51-inches long.
  15. Pre-drill the fronts, making the flush to the two ends and the top of the two seat slat supports.
  16. Do the same to the back. You’ll be using 2½-inch deck screws.
  17. To complete this step, mark a center point on the two spreaders, and attach the middle seat slat support so that it is perfectly centered between the two ends. That means the top of the support must be flush with the two spreaders.

That’s it for now. Same Bat time, Same Bat channel for Part 2 of “On Your Rocker – Making One Adirondack Style.”

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