Garden Chairs Oskaloosa IA
Cedar Rapids, IA
Enjoy your setting while comfortably sitting.
by Tim Johnson
Stylish and comfortable, these chairs are also built to last. Made of rot-resistant white oak, with robust joinery secured with weatherproof glue, they’re guaranteed to become some of your garden’s most cherished perennials.
We’ve engineered the building process so you’ll be able to fit every joint using shop-made jigs and simple procedures. There are zillions of mortises, but they’re all routed from only two basic setups that you’ll quickly master. Making these chairs in multiples is really only a matter of physical endurance. White oak is hard and heavy!
Every structural joint consists of two plunge-routed mortises joined by a loose tenon. This variation is just as strong as traditional mortise and tenon construction and it’s much easier to accomplish, particularly on this chair’s angled arm and stretcher joints.
Lumber and Tools
White oak is a bargain compared to other rot-resistant hardwoods like teak and mahogany, and it’s readily available in a variety of thicknesses. We used 8/4 stock for the legs (wide boards so we didn’t have to glue up the blanks), 6/4 for the arms, rails and stretchers and 4/4 for the slats and tenon stock. For dimensional stability, we chose boards with straight grain. Each chair requires about 35 bd. ft. of lumber. We paid $160 per chair for our rough-sawn stock.
Routing all the mortises will give your plunge router a real workout. It must have a 1/2-in. collet, an edge guide, 2-1/8 in. of plunge capacity and the guts to plunge deep in white oak (at least 1-1/2 hp).
This project also requires a tablesaw and bandsaw, a drill press with a sanding drum and a router table. You’ll need 3/8-in. and 1/2-in. straight bits for mortising, a 2-in. flush-trim bit, a 1/4-in. round-over bit and a chamfering bit (see Sources, page 87). A jointer and planer are recommended, but not essential. You can have your stock milled to thickness at the lumberyard.
Squarely-cut blanks are essential for sound joinery and good results. Make sure your tablesaw’s miter gauge makes square crosscuts. The heavy leg blanks may require a crosscut sled or an accurate chop saw.
Use templates to duplicate the shaped legs, arms and seat rails (Fig. D - G, page 84). 1/2-in.-thick MDF is excellent template material (available at most home centers for $5 per 2-ft. x 4-ft. sheet).
Use layout marks to guarantee that mortises and adjoining pieces go where they’re supposed to go.
Plunge-rout the mortises, using a straight bit, an edge guide and clamped-on stop blocks. Mortises are either routed into the end grain using a jig, or into the long grain, using a flush-mounted support block.
Rout mortises before you cut profiles. It’s much easier to fit the angled joints around the mortises than vice-versa.
Always rout from...