March 11, 2010

DIY Adirondack chairsFind a plan online or design your own for a fun summer project you can enjoy.This is a 6-60-1 dummy headyne yyyyy

By RAY ROUTHIER Staff Writer


Doug Jones/staff photographer: Thursday, June 11, 2009: James Omo shows off his "funky" Adirondack chair with skis for a back at his home in Bath.

Doug Jones/staff photographer: Thursday, June 11, 2009: Avid skier and snow-boarder, James Omo, made use of his old ski's and added a little style to his lawn furniture in one stroke. The builder and Bath city councilor keeps the conversation piece on his patio accompanying the more standard edition.

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Staff Writer

James Omo did not want to throw his broken Adirondack chair away.

Something told him that the chair's simple design and timeless look would lend itself to some creative alterations.

He thought he could fix it with some flair.

''I was bringing the chair home from Brunswick when it fell out of my truck and the tops of the back slats all broke,'' said Omo, a home builder from Bath. ''I had spent a bunch of years out west skiing, and I had collected all these skis. Everyone out there uses skis for fences, or table legs, so I figured why not for the back of my chair?''

Why not?

So Omo replaced the broken slats on the back of his chair with various sizes of alpine skis. The fanciful Adirondack adaptation sitting in his yard gets lots of stares from passers-by and compliments from neighbors.

''I'm tempted to take my other three chairs and put skis on them too. I like the way it looks,'' said Omo.

With their easily-recognizable form and simple design, Adirondack chairs can make a great project for do-it-yourselfers who want to put their own stamp on an iconic symbol of summer.

There are lots of Adirondack chair plans on the Internet for free. Or, you can be like Omo and add your own imaginative twist to an existing chair.

And though Adirondack chairs are iconic, they could use a fresh look. They are more than 100 years old, after all, first built around 1903 in, you guessed it, the Adirondack Mountains of New York.

''They've become a pretty generic object. No matter where you go, you see them, in pretty much the same form,'' said Dirk Leach, a furniture maker in Bar Mills. ''So by making your own, you put your own stamp on it.''

Leach, who admits he's become ''obsessed'' with Adirondack chairs, set out last summer to build 100 different kinds of Adirondack chairs. So far, he's made 36 and sold many of them. He's got one called the Nor'Easter, with a single-piece back and extra-wide arms reminiscent of a boat's sails. He's working on one that would look like a mid-20th century car, complete with tail fins. Another will have legs curved like ocean waves and a back shaped like a lighthouse.

''The form just lends itself to tinkering,'' said Leach.

But the basics of the Adirondack chair always remain. Those, to Leach, are the angles of the seat and the back, plus the width of the arms. He likes the slope of his seat to be about 18 degrees, while the seats of some other Adirondack chairs have a slope of about 25 degrees. He likes the backs to slope around 7 degrees, and he wants his arms to be wide enough to hold a plate of food, not just a drink glass.

He also makes his legs higher than some standard Adirondack chairs, with his seat some 17 1/2 inches off the ground.

''Over the years, a lot of Adirondack chairs have gotten so low, it's like sitting on the ground. I'm not sure what the point of that is, to put your beverage on the ground?'' said Leach. ''That's what the arms are for.''

Making your own Adirondack chair might not be the easiest project, but people of varying wood-working skills can tackle it with success.

Nine-year-old Ferris Florman of Windham made two chairs this spring with the help of his nanny, Laura German, who had no woodworking experience prior to taking care of Ferris and his two younger siblings.

Ferris has been passionate about building with wood since he was 5 or 6, and has his own power tools, says his mother, Sonja Florman. He's built a free-standing, working water wheel and a picnic table.

All this past winter he was eager to start a new project, so he and German tossed around a bunch of ideas and came up with the perfect first project of spring -- Adirondack chairs. They searched the Internet and found some plans they liked at a Web site called

Working on it two or three times a week, they finished the first chair in a month.

''I wanted a project to keep me busy, and this was a good one,'' said Ferris, who said the chairs are a little bigger than he would like. ''They're good, but I need to get some pillows for them.''

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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Additional Photos

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Jack Milton/Staff Photographer: Friday, June 12: Ferris Florman, 9, of Windham, made these two Adirondack chairs which are displayed and used on the family's deck.

Jack Milton

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Courtesy Photos courtesy Wendy Newcomb �Morning Beach,� carpentry by Grosvenor Newcomb, painted by Wendy Newcomb. One of 26 Adirondack chairs that will be auctioned off to benefit the Spaulding Memorial Library. lke.must.inside.chairs 3 col Publish Lakes Neighbors


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