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How to Repair an Adirondack Chair0

Late this fall, one of our Adirondack deck chairs literally came apart at the seams, sending a beverage onto the back deck and me to the hardware store.

Here’s the fix. The basic process would apply to most wooden outdoor furniture that ends up, um, under the weather.

Tools

  • Jigsaw
  • Hammer 
  • Cordless drill, 1/4″ bit
  • C-Clamps
  • Level
  • Ratchet and wrench

 Materials

  •  Two 1″ x 8″ x 3′ pine boards
  •  Basic nails, 2″
  • 2″ x 1/4″ hex bolts
  • Good exterior primer
  • Exterior paint
  • Tape
  • Pencil

 Time

 3-4 hours overall, plus paint dry time

1. Disassemble. Whether it’s rotten or broken, take it apart carefully, and keep as much intact as possible.

2. Buy replacement wood. Choose a material to match the furniture and a thickness, width and length to approximate the pieces that need replacing.  Purchase at least 20% more than you think you need for a margin of error. I was using pine (it’s popular – you likely will be too), and I took my rotten pieces to the hardware store. This made it easier to look for replacement pieces of wood where the entire outline could be cut without a knot.

Whatever wood you’re using, there are many sizes of quality pre-cut boards available. It never hurts to buy an extra stick to allow for cutting mistakes, as you can always take it back. Even if you can’t match the material exactly, solid wood is a must. Plywood, even good plywood, won’t work, as you’ve got to nail through the side of the back frame (see below) and it won’t stand up to the elements, anyway.

3. Trace and cut replacements.  Over the years, water had gotten in around the bolts holding the arms of my chair to the back frame, and both pieces had rotted through. Using tape (it was too rotten to clamp or glue), I kept the pieces together as best I could, and used them to trace an outline for the replacement pieces. (This worked on rough deck furniture but is far from fine woodworking.) I kept long straight edges along the side of the boards to minimize cutting.

 

Using a jigsaw, I cut the replacement pieces. For the back frame, I set the blade on a 45-degree angle, to match the slope of the chair back. I primed the cut pieces and gave them one coat of paint before continuing.

4. Reassemble. Using clamps, I fit the pieces in place. Measuring both arms from the back to the front to ensure they were square, and using a level to ensure they were properly aligned, I drilled 1/4 inch holes through the chair arms and the back frame piece.

       

I then simply inserted a 2-inch long, 1/4″ hex bolt and nut in each side, securing with a ratchet while holding the nut with a wrench. 

Once these pieces were in place I nailed through existing nail holes on the back of the chair into the replaced back frame, and secured the arm to the existing chair leg at the front using basic, two-inch galvanized spiral nails.

 

5. Refinish. Here’s the final product, ready for a final coat of good exterior paint – and then a cold one on the patio next summer. 

text and photos by Steve MacDonald

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