What's the Best Wood for Making Adirondack Chairs

Woodworkers say which wood they prefer for Adirondack chairs, and why. August 7, 2008

The picture below is of one of my first shops. We used to make Adirondack chairs. This was a short lived venture. We didn't make any money but it was still kind of fun. I'm thinking about launching a limited edition of these chairs again. My agenda has mixed purposes. Part of it is nostalgia, part of it for customer schmooze. I have a couple of clients that have been pretty good to me over the years and they could use something like this in the backyard.

Back then I didn't know much about wood so we made them out of pine or hemlock. Today I still don't know much about wood so I thought I would ask what would be the best material for something like this. Redwood comes to mind but I would prefer something indigenous to the neighborhood. Our shop is in Seattle so alder makes sense, or maybe Douglas fir.

Can anybody recommend a reasonable material that is somewhat rot resistant? It doesn’t have to last forever but I wouldn't mind getting several seasons out of it.

Click here for full size image

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor J:
Will they be finished? If not, redwood would be my choice or cedar for a nice grey weathered look. White oak also comes to mind. It’s a very water resistant and a nice wood to work with.

From the original questioner:
This would be a really nice chair out of white oak. I think I will pin the joints with straight-slot brass woodscrews. The brass will darken and could look good with a grayed out oak. So white oak is weather resistant?

From contributor R:
The high tannic acid content of white oak helps with rot resistance and provides excellent mold resistance.

From contributor M:
I teach a woodworking class where we make Adirondacks. We used to use Western red cedar, but the expense, plus the issues we had working red cedar with a pattern router (lots of chipout/tearout, etc.) made us switch over to Cypress. Cypress and Western red cedar are both very rot and insect resistant and weather nicely, even with no finish at all.

From contributor W:
Cypress is nice looking but the sapwood is not rot resistant. Here in southern Louisiana we can get "sinker" reclaimed heart cypress which is very rot resistant. Ipe is a nice wood for outdoors. It will never rot but it is very heavy and is so dense that you can barely drive nails into it. It will also not accept glue of any kind for any length of time. Redwood and white oak would probably be your best bets. Make sure you don't accidentally use red or some other oak. They will rot in no time. The white oak does not wick water like the other oaks do. Cherry is naturally rot resistant as well and also weathers to a nice gray.