Western take on a famous rustic chair

Peter O. Whiteley,  – September 2, 2004

Sunset readers have always admired the Adirondack chair: its rustic simplicity and straightforward, functional design seem appropriate for an informal, outdoor-oriented lifestyle. But we thought it was time to develop our own Western equivalent, so we invited several architects to send us their designs for a new deck and patio chair. The chair we chose was designed by Los Angeles architect Stephen Kanner of Kanner Architects. He calls it “a modernist update” of the famous rustic chair from upstate New York. The spare, geometric lines of the seat and back give it an elegant, contemporary look. Anyone with intermediate woodworking skills can build it in a weekend.

Only a few electric hand tools (a circular saw, saber saw, sander, and drill) and standard-dimension lumber are required. It takes about two days to cut, sand, and assemble the pieces. You can then seal the wood with a clear exterior finish, or give it a colorful paint job (which will probably require two coats).

The horizontal back and seat slats require exact and equal cutting and careful drilling, since they screw to the edge of a frame made of 1-by lumber. (Depending on what type of lumber is used, you’ll find the thickness ranges from 5/8 inch to more than 3/4 inch.) The chairs shown are built from clear, kiln-dried redwood, and the cost of lumber for each chair was about $67. You could also use cedar, pine, fir, or a durable hardwood such as mahogany.


Plans for the Sunset chair are available here in “pdf” format. You will need to have the Adobe Acrobat Reader software installed on your computer in order to access this file (it’s not difficult, and it’s free; there’s a link to the download page below).

If you have the Acrobat Reader installed, it will launch automatically once the file is downloaded: Click here to download the plans.

If you do not have the Acrobat Reader, click here for easy instructions on how to get it.

Then come back to this page to download the plans.

If you would like a printed set of plans, send a check or money order for $3.50, payable to Sunset Publishing, to:

Sunset Chair
80 Willow Rd.,
Menlo Park, CA

Enclose a self-addressed, stamped (34 cents) legal-size envelope.

Plans include a materials list, dimensions, a cutting plan, and step-by-step instructions.

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