Adirondack Chaise Lounge

Build a sun-loving reclining chair with 3⁄4" stock and simple joinery.

Overall dimensions: 313⁄4"w x 70"l x 433⁄4"h

With the season’s warm temperatures and sunshine upon us, treat yourself to some quality outdoor time. And what better way is there than to chill on a chaise lounge? This flexible design in the Adirondack style offers five back and two leg adjustments to maximize comfort. You can lie prone to work on your tan, or sit up to read and sip a favorite beverage. A pair of wheels on the rear legs lets you move the piece with ease when needed. Add another level of comfort with a 21"-wide cushion (available at home and garden centers, as well as online).

Building the chaise couldn’t be easier. Construction consists of simple joints held fast with plugged screws, dowels, and glue. I chose weather-and-rot resistant cedar for the wood and provided further protection from the elements with exterior-grade screws, glue, and paint.

Construct the seat, leg rest, and back assemblies

1 Mill enough cedar stock for the seat supports (A), leg rest supports (B), back support stiles (C), back support rails (D), seat/leg rest slats (E), outside back splats (F), inside back splats (G), and center back splat (H). Refer to the Cut List and Figure 1.

Note that all of the chaise parts, with the exception of the dowels, use 3⁄4"-thick stock.

2 Rip the seat supports (A) to width and length. Stack the parts with double-faced tape and lay out the radii on the ends and the notches, where shown in Figure 2. Bandsaw the round ends and notches and sand to the cutlines. Drill the 5⁄16" bolt holes.

3 Cut the leg rest supports (B) to size. Stack them together. Lay out the radii for the ends and edge curves. Bandsaw and sand the supports to final shape.

4 Cut the back support stiles (C), and rails (D) to size. Stack the stiles, and lay out the 11⁄2" and 5⁄16" holes and notch on the face of the top stile, where shown in Figure 2. Drill through both pieces at the drill press. Bandsaw the notches and sand smooth.

5 With a back support rail (D) in the bench vise, place the mating end of the stile (C) on the rail’s end, and drill three evenly spaced 3⁄8" holes, 11⁄2" deep, and 3⁄8" in. As shown in Photo A, apply glue, and tap in the dowels. (I choose dowels for improved joint strength here, but you could also go with countersunk and plugged #8 × 3"-long screws.)

6 Before moving on to the next back support stile and rail joint (C/D), cut the protruding dowels flush with a flush-trim saw, and level them to the surrounding surface using a block plane or sanding block.

7 Cut the seat and leg rest slats (E) to the sizes in the Cut List.

8 Make the Seat/Leg Slat Template for the slats (E) in Figure 2 from 1⁄4" plywood, drilling the screw holes with a 3⁄32" bit. Place the slat template on each of the seat slats (E), and mark the locations for the counterbored screw holes with an awl. Now, use the template to mark each of the seven leg rest slat screw holes. At the drill press, use a 1⁄8 × 3⁄8" countersink bit to drill the counterbored holes in the slats where marked to accept screws and plugs.

9 Affix the template to one of the leg rest slats (E) with double-faced tape. Guiding off the template, use a 1" Forstner bit to drill the 1" holes in the ends of the handhold opening. Scrollsaw between the holes to remove the waste. Pattern-rout the handhold opening with a flush-trim bit, again, guiding off the template. Repeat for a second leg rest slat.

10 Rout 1⁄8"-radius round-overs on the edges and ends of the top faces of the slats (E). Use a 1⁄4"-radius bit to round over the two handhold openings on both faces of the slats.

11 Working on a flat surface and using a right angle tall fence, screw the seat and leg rest assemblies (A/E and B/E) together, as shown in Photo B.

I used 1⁄2"-wide spacers for even slat spacing and a 23⁄4" or a 31⁄2" support spacer along the fence to center the screws in the leg rest and seat supports, respectively. Start the first slat of the seat assembly 1⁄4" in from the center of the 5⁄16" bolt hole. Start the first slat of the leg rest assembly 11⁄2" back from the rounded end. Check that the slats remain square to the supports.

12 Lay the seat and leg rest assemblies top side down and slide them together, fitting one seat support (A) outside of and against a leg rest support (B). Use a 1⁄2" spacer to maintain the slat spacing between the slats (E). Holding the assemblies together and guiding off the existing drill hole, drill the mating bolt hole in the leg rest support, as shown in Photo C. Repeat for the opposite leg rest support. Fit the seat assembly (A/E) inside the foot rest assembly (B/E), and bolt them together.

Space the leg rest and seat assemblies with a 1⁄2" spacer. Guide off the 5⁄16" bolt hole in a seat support to drill a mating bolt hole through the leg rest support.
Space the seat and back assemblies with a 1" spacer, clamp the assemblies and a backer, and drill the pivot dowel hole with a 11⁄2" Forstner bit.

Complete the back construction

Note: The full-sized patterns for the back splats, the U-shaped front leg opening, leg/arm supports, corbels, and arms are available as free downloads. Go to woodcraftmagazine.com and click on Magazine Patterns.

1 Cut the outside back splats (F), inside back splats (G), and center splat (H) to the sizes in the Cut List. Adhere the two outside splats together with double-faced tape. Do the same for the inside splats. Download the full-sized patterns, cut them out, and affix them to the appropriate splats.

2 Bandsaw the ends to shape, cutting just outside the cutlines and sanding to the lines.

3 Rout 1⁄8"-radius round-overs on the front faces of the splats (F, G, H).

4 Align the inside edges of the outside back splats (F) with the inside faces of the back support stiles (C). Locate the bottom ends 41⁄8" below the lower back support rail (D). Mark and drill the counterbored holes in the splats centered on the edges of the back frame’s stiles and rails. Screw the splats in place.

5 Center the center splat (H) between the outside back splats (F) and in alignment with their bottom ends. Drill counterbored holes, and screw the splat to the back support rails (D).  Evenly space the inside back splats (G) between the outside and middle splats, and fasten them in place, aligning the bottom ends.

6 Overlap the bottom ends of the back stiles (C) on the back ends of the seat supports (A), and clamp the parts together, spacing the ends of the splats (F, G, H) and edge of the rear seat slat (E) with a 1"-wide spacer. Guiding off the 11⁄2" holes drilled earlier in the back stiles, drill the holes for the center pivot dowel (I) that connects the seat assembly (A/E) to the back assembly (C/D/F/G/H), as shown in Photo D. Use a scrap backer to avoid tear-out.

7 Cut the pivot dowel (I) to the length in the Cut List, and test-fit it in the holes. (I chamfered the ends slightly to fit the dowel in the holes.) Set the dowel aside.

Use the template as a guide to drill the holes in the back supports.
With the U-shaped pattern on the wood, cut out the waste on the partial laminations for the two front legs.

Add the front legs

Note: The front legs (O) are made up of three pieces to provide stout support and accommodate the U-shaped opening for adjusting the seat/leg rest assembly.

1 Cut the three 3⁄4"-thick pieces making up the front legs to the sizes shown in the Front Leg Detail in Figure 1. Note that the bottom end of the inside piece is bevel-cut at 45°. Align and glue the inside and middle pieces together.

2 Affix or trace the pattern for the U-shaped opening to the top ends of the inside/middle laminations. Drill the 11⁄8" holes, and then scrollsaw out the waste, cutting just inside the cutlines, as shown in Photo F.

3 At the oscillating spindle sander, sand the U-shaped openings to their cutlines. Test the fit of a 1" dowel around the U shape. Align and glue on the outside leg pieces. Round over a 1⁄4" radius on the bottom ends.

4 Strike cutlines 1⁄2" in from the rear edges of the front legs (O), terminating at the curve from the pattern. Bandsaw off the waste and sand to the cutlines. This allows the trimmed 31⁄2"-wide portion of the legs to transition nicely into the 31⁄2" base frame sides (J).

5 Referencing the Leg Detail in Figure 1, drill countersunk holes in the sides (J) for attaching the legs (O). Apply glue to all mating surfaces and screw the legs to the inside front corners of the base frame.

6 Guiding off front lower ends of the U-shaped openings in the front legs (O), drill 1" holes straight through the sides (J) using a Forstner bit. Back the sides to prevent tear-out. Later, you’ll use the holes to insert the front legs dowel (P).

7 Crosscut the front legs dowel (P) to length.

8 Place the bolted seat/leg rest assembly (A/E, B/E) in the base frame (J/K/L). Next, insert the center pivot dowel (I) through the base frame and seat supports (A). Clamp the seat/leg rest assembly to one side. Using the 1" hole drilled in Step 6 as a guide, drill through the leg rest support (B), using a backer piece to prevent tear-out. Clamp the assembly to the other side and drill the opposing hole in the same manner. Now, slip the 1" dowel through the assemblies, centering it so the ends rest in the U-shaped openings.

9 Position the front slat (E) on the base frame using the 1⁄2" spacer between it and the leg/rest slats. Locate and drill counterbored holes for fastening the slat to the base frame. Screw the front slat in place.

10 Pull the center pivot dowel (I), add the back assembly (C/D/F/G/H), and reinsert the dowel. Now, fit the back brace dowel (N) into the pivoting back braces (M), and insert the dowel ends into the front notches of the back supports (L). Position the back frame (C/D) to align the bolt holes. Bolt the braces to the outside of the frame. (I used 5⁄16" carriage bolts, washers, and Nylock nuts.) Test the back positions and the seat/leg positions. Tweak if necessary.

Add the rear leg and arm assemblies

Note: The rear leg/arm supports (R) and rear corbels (T) are made up of two opposing-grain pieces to provide stout support at the back end of the chaise.

1 Cut the two vertical arm supports (Q) to size, and drill 5 countersunk holes through the outside face for attaching the parts to the base frame. Drill four centered holes on the inside face for attaching the corbels (S). (See Figure 1.) Using glue and screws, attach the vertical arm supports to the base frame sides (J), where shown in Figure 1. Flush the bottom ends with the sides.

2 Cut two outside leg/arm support cedar pieces to 5 × 27" and two inside pieces to 5 × 101⁄2". Referencing the pattern in Figure 3, angle-cut the top ends of the inside and outside pieces at 35°. Aligning the square bottom ends, face-glue and clamp one inside piece to one outside piece to make one blank for a leg/arm support (R). Ensure the angle-cut ends are parallel to each other. Similarly, make the opposing leg/arm support blank, noting that the leg/arm blanks should be mirror images of one another.

3 Referring to the Cut List, cut enough 3⁄4" cedar stock for the front corbels (S), rear corbels (T), and arms (U). Face-glue two opposing-grain pieces together for the rear corbels.

4 Affix two full-sized downloaded patterns on the leg/arm support (R) blanks. Drill the 1⁄2" axle holes where shown. Affix the patterns for the front corbels (S), rear corbels (T), and arms (U) on the other cedar stock.

5 Bandsaw out the opposing leg/arm supports (R), front corbels (S), rear corbels (T), and arms (U), cutting just outside the cutlines and sanding to the lines. Drill the counterbored holes where shown.

6 Rout 1⁄8" radius round-overs on all the exposed edges of the arm (U). 

7 Mark 6" in from the base frame’s back end along the bottom edge. Now, clamp a rear leg/arm support (O) to the frame side (J) at the marked location. Hold a straightedge on the top end of the vertical arm support (Q) and leg/arm support, as shown in Photo G.

8 Attach the rear leg/arm support (R) to the frame side (J) with glue and screws, as shown in Photo H. Repeat for the opposing rear leg/arm support.

9 Center and screw on the front corbels (S) and the rear corbels (T) making them flush with the top ends of the vertical arm supports (Q) and the rear leg/arm supports (R). Locate and drill the counterbored screw holes in the arms (U). Screw on the arms (U), where shown in Figure 1, flushing them with the inside faces of the vertical and leg/arm supports.

Add the wheels and crossbraces

Note: The wheels (V) are made up of two pieces of 3⁄4" cedar glued up so the grain of one piece opposes the grain of the other.

1 Face-glue two boards of 3⁄4" cedar that measure 71⁄4" wide. Make them long enough to clamp to a bench and not interfere with the  swing of a router and trammel. Using the drill press, drill a 1⁄8" hole through the blank to establish the center on both faces. Make a second blank.

2 Install a 1⁄4" spiral bit in a handheld router with a trammel base set to cut a 7"-diameter circle. Working from the centerpoint, rout one face of a wheel blank, increasing the cut depth in increments. Flip the blank and continue cutting until you free the wheel (V). Repeat to cut out the second wheel, as shown in Photo I.

3 Lay out and drill the three 11⁄2" decorative openings in each wheel, where shown in Figure 2. Widen the 1⁄8" hole to 1⁄2".

4 Switch to a 1⁄4"-radius round-over bit, and rout the edges of the wheels (V) and the three 11⁄2" holes.

5 Cut the rear legs cross-brace (W) to fit between the legs, and rout a centered 1⁄2" channel, 1⁄4" deep on its bottom face. Fit the axle in place, and screw the part to the rear legs (R) over the axle.

6 Cut the base frame cross-brace (X), and screw it to the base frame sides (J) centered on the notches in the seat supports (A) and flush with the bottom edges of the base frame.

Clean up, paint, and assemble the chaise

1 Plug all of the counterbored holes. Hand-plane the plugs flush. Sand the assemblies to 220 grit, easing the sharp edges. Remove the seat, leg rest, back, and axle.

2 Paint the chaise. (I applied a sanding sealer to the wood, let it dry, and then sprayed on two coats of exterior paint, sanding between coats. You could also roll and brush on the finish. I designed the chaise to partially disassemble for refinishing.)

3 Reassemble the chaise, slipping in the dowel rods, where shown in Figure 1. Secure the large dowel with a single screw. Cut the axle to final length, accommodating the washers and axle caps. Install the wheels.

About Our Designer/Builder

An accomplished woodworker from Lubeck, West Virginia, Bill Sands is a regular contributor to Woodcraft Magazine, having built several projects. In addition, he teaches woodworking classes at the Parkersburg Woodcraft store.

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