Adirondack Glider

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This article is from Issue 46 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Relax in style with this porch or patio project.

Builder Bill Sands

Overall dimensions: 55"w × 273⁄4"d × 451⁄2"h

Glide through a summer evening with a companion and refreshment while seated in this simply constructed American classic. Because I used poplar, which is prone to rot outdoors, I protected the wood with two coats of primer and two coats of exterior paint. For a clear wood look, go with rot-resistant cedar, cypress, or other exterior wood, and apply a clear UV (ultraviolet) resistant finish. Go with exterior screws and glue to guarantee long-lasting joints. Use the patterns to help you make the shaped parts.

Test-cut scrap pieces and hold them together to confirm the rabbet depths and angle settings.
With the miter gauge fence angled at 15°, cut the half-lap joints with a dado set, starting at the shoulder cutline. A stopblock ensures consistent results.

Cut the seat frame parts

Note: Each of the seat end assemblies (A/C) are cut identically, allowing for fewer setups at the tablesaw. In this case, they are not mirror images.

1 Referring to Figures 1 and 2, crosscut 20"-long blanks from 11⁄2"-thick dressed stock for the end seat rails (A) and middle seat rails (B). Cut 11⁄2"-thick blanks to 21" long for the back supports (C).

2 Enlarge and transfer the Seat Rail Pattern on page 34 to one of the blanks for the seat rails (A, B). Bandsaw to the waste side of the line. Then sand the curves of one blank to the line, using a disc sander for the convex curves and an oscillating spindle sander for the concave curves, taking care to keep the edges square. You cut  the waste at the back end later.

3 Using this first rail (A) as a template, trace the curve onto the remaining blanks. Bandsaw the blanks, again cutting to the waste side of the line.

4 Adhere the completed rail (A) to one of the remaining bandsawn blanks with double-faced tape, aligning the bottom edges and front ends. Chuck a flush-trim bit into your table-mounted router, and smooth the bandsawn edge, guiding off the template. Flush-trim the other blanks to create identical curved edges.

5 Install a 3⁄4" dado set into your tablesaw, and set it for a 3⁄4"-deep cut to make the half-lap joints for the end seat rails (A) and the back supports (C). (See the Seat Rail Assembly in Figure 2.) 

Attach an extension to your miter gauge and angle the gauge for a 15° half-lap cut. Confirm the height and angle settings with test cuts in two pieces of scrap lumber that match the thickness of the wood for parts A and C, as shown in Photo A.

6 Once your test pieces fit nicely, cut a 21⁄2" rabbet 3⁄4" deep in the end seat rails (A), as shown in Photo B. Cut a 35⁄8" rabbet 3⁄4" deep into the back supports (C). After making the initial shoulder cuts, remove the stopblock to cut away the remainder of the waste of each part. If necessary, clean up the sawn surfaces with a sanding block or rabbet plane.

7 Using an exterior-grade adhesive, glue and clamp each end seat rail (A) to its back support (C). Let the glue dry overnight.

8 Flush-cut the waste at the angled joint ends of parts A and C with a handsaw.

9 Crosscut the top ends of the back supports (C) to their final lengths at the tablesaw or mitersaw.

Seat frame assembly

1 Referring to Figure 2 and the Cut List, rip a 10° bevel on one edge of a 46"-long piece of 11⁄2" stock for the seat front (D). Now rip the part to final width, matching the width of the front ends of the end seat rails (A).

2 Drill the counterbores and clearance holes in the seat front (D), where shown in Figure 2.

3 Chuck a 1⁄8" round-over bit into your table-mounted router, and rout the bottom front edge of the seat front rail (D). Leave the router setup, as you’ll need it several more times for other glider parts.

4 Clamp the seat front rail (D) to the two seat end assemblies (A/C). (I cut a pair of scrapwood cauls at 15° for use at the angled back end of the assembly to prevent the bar clamps from slipping.) Check for square, and then, using the clearance holes in the seat front rail as guides, drill pilot holes into the seat rail assemblies (A/C). Drive screws to attach the seat front rail to the seat end assemblies.

5 Make the seat rear rail (E) by first bevel-ripping one edge of a piece of 11⁄2"-thick stock at 15°. Next, rip the piece to 43⁄4" wide. Now, crosscut the seat rear rail to the length listed in the Cut List.

6 Drill the countersunk clearance holes through the half-lap joints in the seat end assemblies (A/C). With the beveled edge down, align the ends of the seat rear rail (E) with the front edge of the back supports (C) and drive the screws. Trim the middle seat rails (B) to fit, bore the needed holes, and screw them in place, where shown in Figure 2, flush with the bottom edges of the seat front and rear rails.

7 Rip and crosscut the top seat rail (F) to size. Drill counterbores and clearance holes on the top face of the piece so they are centered on the back supports (C). Note that the ends of the top seat rail extend 1⁄2" beyond each back support.

8 With your 1⁄8" round-over bit setup, rout the ends and rear edges of the top seat rail (F). Do not rout the front edges.

9 Screw the top seat rail (F) to the seat assemblies (A, C), with the front edges flush.

Make the back splats

1 Using 3⁄4"-thick stock, rip blanks to 31⁄2" wide for the back splats: center (G), outer (H), intermediate (I), and middle (J). Crosscut each blank at least 1" longer than its finished length in the Cut List.

2 Cut and adhere the copies of the two Splat Patterns on page 34 to one end of the appropriate blanks for the splats (G, H, I, J), referring to Figure 3. Bandsaw to the waste side of the cutlines, and then disc-sand to the lines. Crosscut the parts to their final lengths. To form identical rounded and arched ends of the splats, use the flush-trimming technique in the “Speedy Splat Shaping” sidebar.

3 Mark the hole centers on the splats. Drill the counterbores and clearance holes.

4 Break the front ends and edges of the splats (G, H, I, J) with the 1⁄8" round-over bit.

5 Mark a centerline at the lower end of the center splat (G). Cut scrap support strips to fit between the middle seat rails (B) and between seat rails (A) and (B). Use double-faced tape or clamps to fix them to the seat rear rail (E) even with the top edges of the seat rails to serve as temporary rests.

6 Next, make a mark on the center scrap strip at the midpoint of the bench assembly. Align the center splat mark with the strip mark, check that the center splat is square to the seat rear rail (E), and drive screws to secure it to this rail and the top seat rail (F).

7 Rest the bottom end of an outer splat (H) on the strip and, using spacers between the splats (mine were 3⁄4" thick), drive the screws to attach the slat to the rails (E, F). Repeat the process to install the remaining splats. (Note that the edges of the outermost splats should be flush with the outside faces of the back supports (C).) Remove the support strips.

8 Glue plugs into all of the counterbores in the splat parts (G, H, I, J). Then, flush the plugs to the surface with a plane or sanding block.

Cut the seat slats

1 Rip and crosscut the seat slats (K) and rear seat slat (L) to size. Note in Figure 2 that the rear seat slat has a 15° bevel along its back edge. Double-check that the slat lengths are flush to the sides of the bench assembly.

2 Rout 1⁄8" round-overs on the upper edges of the seat slats (K). Do not round over the back edge of the rear seat slat (L).

3 Drill the counterbores and clearance holes in the slats, where shown in the Slat Screw Hole Locations Detail in Figure 3.

4 Using a 3⁄8"-thick spacer between the slats and starting with the front seat slat (K), screw all the slats in place.

Leave a 1⁄4" space between the rear seat slat and back splats to allow for drainage. Be sure that the spacing between the slats appears the same.

5 Plug all the counterbores, and flush the plugs.

Speedy Splat Shaping

There are a total of 11 back splats, and shaping each one from scratch takes time. By using an over-under flush-trim bit at the router table and a pattern template, you can achieve consistent results in short order.

Begin by adhering a paper copy of the rounded and curved patterns onto the ends of a piece of scrap 3⁄8" or 1⁄2" plywood having the same width as the splats. Carefully cut out and sand the ends of the plywood, making the routing template. Now cut a set of blanks for the splats, leaving the wood about 1" longer than the finished lengths in the Cut List. Using your template, pencil the appropriate shape on the ends of the blanks, and bandsaw just to the waste side of the cutline. With double-faced tape, attach the template to a splat blank, and flush-trim the curved edges as shown.

Flush-trim the ends of the slats using the bit (Inset). Adjust the bit height, and flip the workpiece and template over as needed to rout with the grain to avoid end-grain tear-out.

Make the arm assemblies

Note: You'll make two arm assemblies that are mirror images of each other.

1 Rip and crosscut the armrest rails (M) and armrest spacer (N), referring to Figure 4 and the Cut List. Glue and screw the spacer to the top armrest rail, where shown. Mark and bandsaw the radiused ends; then sand them smooth.

2 Speed production by making the Radius Routing Jig in Figure 5. Then put it to work, as shown in Photo C.

As an alternative, you can bandsaw and sand the radii to final shape.

3 Rout round-overs along the edges and ends of the armrest rails (M), where shown in Figure 4. Do not rout the upper edge of the top rail.

3 Cut the armrest supports (O) to size.

4 To avoid confusion when marking hole locations, lay out the parts for the two mirror-image assemblies on your workbench. Drill the counterbores and holes in the rails, where shown in the Inside View of Figure 4. Then square and assemble the armrest rails (M) to the armrest supports (O) with an exterior glue and screws.

5 Plug the counterbores, and flush the plugs to the surface.

6 Drill the 1⁄4" holes for the glider brackets at your drill press to ensure that they are square to the surface.

Clamp the workpieces in the radius routing jig, and flush-trim the rough-cut radii for clean, consistent corners, guiding off the jig’s smooth edge.

7 Referring to the Outside View in Figure 4, mark and drill counterbored holes, where shown. To ensure that the screws will find solid targets, dry-fit the arm assemblies on the seat assembly, as described in Step 8, to check the marked hole locations prior to drilling.

8 Stand the seat assembly on end to make it easier to attach the arm assemblies. Now make, and then clamp, a straightedge to an arm assembly, positioning it parallel to the bottom armrest rail (M) with its upper edge 10" above the bottom edge of the arm assembly. Referring to Photo D, place the appropriate arm assembly on the seat assembly. Locate the front edge of the forward armrest support (O) 1⁄4" past the front seat slat (K). With the position confirmed, remove the arm assembly, apply glue to the mating surfaces, and reposition the assembly at the same location. Drill pilot holes, guiding off the counterbored holes, and drive the screws. Repeat the procedure for the other arm assembly.

Position the arm assembly on the seat assembly, using the straightedge, and then use glue and drive screws of three different lengths to secure it.

Build the base

Note: You’ll make two base end assemblies that are mirror images of each other.

1 Rip and crosscut the legs (P) and base rails (Q) to form the base end assemblies, referring to Figure 6 and the Cut List.

2 Chuck a 3⁄8" round-over bit into your table-mounted router, and profile the edges and ends of the legs (P), where shown.

3 Mark the radii at the ends of the base rails (Q), and then cut and smooth them. Rout a 1⁄8" round-over around the perimeter of the outer face of the base rails.

4 Mark the centers of the counterbores and holes in the base rails (Q). Drill the counterbores and clearance holes, but don’t drill the holes for the glider brackets yet. Glue and clamp the base rails (Q) to the legs (P), and then drive the screws. Glue in the plugs, and then flush them to the surface.

5 Take the completed base end assembly to your drill press, and drill the holes for the glider brackets.

6 Rip and crosscut the base stretchers (R). Drill countersunk screw clearance holes into these parts, where shown in Figure 6. (The fasteners will be hidden, so there’s no need for counterbores.) Glue and screw the stretchers to the base end assemblies (P, Q).

7 Measure between the base stretchers (R), and use the dimension to cut the base spacers (S) to length. Screw the parts in place to further stabilize the base assembly, and check them for square.

Use a scratch awl to mark the holes in the arms, guiding off the 1⁄8" holes drilled in the plywood template.

Add the arms and hardware

Note: You’ll make two arms that are mirror images of each other.

1 Cut the blanks for the arms (T) to size. Make a plywood pattern template using a copy of the Arm Pattern on page 34. Drill the holes in the plywood where indicated. Now, use the template to lay out the arms. Bandsaw the blanks. Adhere the template to one arm to flush-trim it and mark the holes (Photo E). Then flip the other arm and template and repeat to create a left and right arm. Remove the template.

2 Drill the counterbores and clearance holes in the arms (T), where marked. Rout 1⁄8" round-overs along the perimeter on both faces.

3 Next, position the arm on the arm assemblies (M, N, O), where shown in Figures 1 and 7, and drive the screws. Add the plugs and flush them.

4 Attach the glider brackets to the base assembly, referring to Figure 8. Snug up the bolts, but don’t overdo the torque.

Use a ratchet and wrench to snug up the bolts and nuts that attach the glider hardware.

5 Set the base assembly on a level surface, and make sure that it is oriented correctly–with the 2" projection of the base rails toward the front. Put the seat assembly in front of the base, and tilt it forward as you push the base assembly beneath it. Slide the two assemblies together to align them. (Or use a helper to set the seat on the base.)

6 Lift each end of the seat assembly, and place a 1⁄2"-thick spacer atop the base at each end to elevate the seat assembly. Align the holes in the seat assembly with the glider bracket, and install the hardware, as shown in Photo F and following the Hardware Detail, Figure 8.

Once you’ve installed the hardware, remove the spacers and check the glider’s action.

7 Give the glider a test ride, and then remove the hardware so you can give the wood a final sanding with 220 grit. Wipe or blow off the dust and apply a finish. While you can go with a clear, exterior-grade finish with UV (ultraviolet) inhibitors, I chose buttermilk milk paint. After finishing, move the seat and base assemblies individually to a flat and level location where you intend to use the glider. Reattach the assemblies.  

About Our Designer And Writer

Robert Settich is a seasoned woodworker and writer, with five books and hundreds of magazine articles to his credit. See more of his work at


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