1 How to Make a Two-Board Backyard Lounger


Okay, we’ll admit that although last month’s CNC-milled chair was awesome, the project was out of reach for many readers. So here’s something you can build that doesn’t require access to a $25,000 CNC machine. In fact, you’ll need little more than a circular saw and a cordless drill.

My design is based on the rustic-but-comfy Westport plank chair, which evolved into today’s Adirondack chair. Thomas Lee built the original in 1903 while on vacation in Westport, New York, in the Adirondack Park. Legend has it Lee used a single board from a pine tree he felled on his property. It must have been a big slab; most Westport plans require around four 10-inch-wide boards. But in keeping with the spirit of the legend, you can build this chair with just two 1-inch x 10-inch x 10-foot pieces of lumber. It should take you a couple of hours—which is how long our CNC-milled chair took. So, man versus machine? It’s a tie.

Tools and Supplies: Circular saw / rafter square / bar clamps / cordless drill / two 1″ x 10″ x 10′ boards of cedar or other weather-resistant lumber / 48 1½-inch exterior-grade wood screws

Materials List

• 2 Seatback 9¼” x 32″

• 2 Seat 9¼” x 20¼”

• 1 Front stretcher 5½” x 21¾” (beveled 30 degrees along one edge)

• 1 Back support 4″ x 25¾” (beveled 30 degrees along one edge)

• 2 Front leg 4⅝” x 21¼”

• 2 Armrest 4⅝” x 28″

• 2 Rear leg 4⅝” x 32″

• 2 Arm support 3″ x 11½” (tapered from 1½” to 3″ along length)

2 Mill the Parts


As with most furniture projects, first cut out all the parts from the lumber. You’ll then build subassemblies that combine to create the chair.

To make the narrower parts, it’s more efficient to rip the entire board in one pass and then chop the pieces to length. But before you do, cut off a full-width piece measuring 25¾ inches. This isn’t ripped in half; more on that later.

Rip the remaining piece down the middle so you’re left with two boards a little under 4⅝ inches wide. To keep your cut line straight, use the other 10-foot board as a guide. Position this guide on top of the board so your saw’s base plate runs along the guide’s edge but the blade cuts through the middle of the board. For most saws that means setting the guide 1½ inches off-center. Attach the guide with a couple of screws; you can cut around the holes later.

3 Mill the Parts


Now cut all 14 parts from the two 1 x 10 boards to length according to the cut list using a circular saw.

You won’t have much scrap—just enough to get a bonfire started.

4 Mill the Parts


Grab the piece you cut off the first board and rip it to 5½ inches at a 30-degree bevel. If you need a guide, clamp one of the armrests to the board. The wider piece is the front stretcher; the other is the back support.

Mark a 20-degree cut on the front end of each rear-leg blank. Place the pivot point of a rafter square on the top corner of the leg, and turn it clockwise so its 20-degree mark lines up with the edge of the board. Cut along the line. On the back end of the leg, cut a 3 x 1–inch triangle off the bottom corner.

Create both arm supports with a single tapering rip. Mark the line, clamp the blank to a work surface, and carefully make the cut.

5 Assemble


I like to clamp parts together before I fasten them. That stops the pieces from slipping as I drive the screws. It’s like having an extra set of hands.

Build the leg subassemblies. Attach each front leg to a back leg so that the top corner of the back leg is 14 inches off the ground. Hold a rafter square at 20 degrees against the edge of the front leg to ensure it’s fastened at the correct angle. Attach with four screws.

Fasten the seat parts to the leg sub assemblies. Set the front edge of the seat flush with the top corners of the rear legs, and keep a ⅛-inch gap between the two seat boards. Attach the front stretcher so its beveled edge slopes downward. Don’t drive screws into the end grain of the rear legs but into the side grain of the front legs, where they’ll hold better.

6 Assemble


Fasten the tapered arm supports to the front legs, and attach the armrests so they overhang ¾ inch at the front and on the inside of the front legs. Drive two screws into each front leg, and two into each arm support.

Attach the back support, beveled side up, to the armrests. They should be spaced 18¾ inches apart with their ends flush with the outside of the back support. Keep the assembly square. Drive a couple of screws through each arm and into the back support, taking care not to blow out through the workpiece.

Install the seatbacks by driving two screws through each rear leg and three screws through each seatback and into the back support. Don’t go too deep or you’ll punch through the other side.

7 Assemble


Finish the chair by trimming off the back outer corners of the armrests.

8 How to Avoid Crappy Lumber


To check for bows, crooks, and twists, place one end of the lumber on the ground and hold the other at eye level. Close one eye, and sight down the board to look for warping.

If you’re cutting the lumber into smaller pieces, you can get away with slightly deformed boards. Otherwise, avoid anything warped ½ inch or more over a 10-foot length.