Monday, May 17, 2010

 

Rancherondack Chairs

A while ago I built some benches for my courtyard. If you've ever shopped for outdoor furniture, you'll understand the primary motivation for making my own outdoor furniture: cost. Secondarily, though, are the matters of choice and size. It seems that most outdoor furniture (especially if you want something modern-looking) is of a few simple styles. Additionally, you're stuck with whatever size they make. So I made the benches and now I've set about making some chairs.

Whenever you're building anything that requires more than one leg, it's good to have a system that will help you make them more consistently. This is my leg alignment jig:

When I built the benches I used a general-purpose saw blade. This time, a friend let me borrow his primitive dado set. It's a set of chipping blades that dig out a much bigger groove. More modern dado sets have "endcap" fine blades that leave cleaner cuts. With these there was some tear-out but that's fine on outdoor furniture. The dado blade set works much faster than a single blade and I no longer feel like I'm working in a deli when making the interlocking cut-outs.

Here are the two finished legs. People always ask me what type of wood I use expecting me to say something exotic. The fact is, I use standard douglas fir stock available at any (and every) Home Depot or Lowes. In this photo, I haven't sanded the frame down yet but it really cleans them up a bit and they take the stain well. Speaking of stain, since this is outdoor furniture I just treat it like a deck and use a water-proofing stain.

Here is the almost-completed chair. It was getting late and I was out of wood so I still have one armrest to make along with some staining touchups. I'm amazed at how similar it turned out to my Google SketchUp modeling. The ergonomics are very similar to an Ikea Poang chair. Never having built a chair before, I wanted to ensure a minimum of modicum of comfort so I used that chair as a guideline for things like seat depth, height, and armrest dimensions.

Here's another angle, detailing the slats.






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