How to Build an Adirondack Porch Swing- The Beer Will Taste Better

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I discovered a set of old, Adirondack porch swing plans crammed in a drawer at our camp. Since they were covered in coffee stains and something else I can only speculate on…just peanut butter hopefully…I made some design modifications. You probably will too, depending on your specific requirements.

To build the porch swing pictured, you will need:

  • (7) Lengths at 1x6x8 (I used hickory)
  • Roughly 6′ each of ¼”, 3/8″ and ½” wood dowels
  • A table saw, router, drill and ¼”, ½” and 3/8″ bits, orbital sander, chisel, rubber mallet and plenty of wood glue
  • (4) lag bolts at 3/8″ X 3 ½” (to secure the seat to the backrest and vertical rails) and (4) heavy eyebolts (to accommodate the chain)
  • A handful of wood screws (to be used as you see fit)

I started by making rough templates out of scrap wood to get the general size and layout. NOTE: this step will not be necessary if you’re using more legible plans than moi. For far more, detailed plans and instructions than I’m attempting to give you, (my eyes are bleeding as I try to recall all the details of this build), check out these links to plans for Adirondack porch swings and other types of Adirondack furniture:

California Redwood Association – Multiple Plans (Free)

Lee Valley – $13.95 – Multiple Plans (Most $13.95)

Begin by cutting all the rails and slats you’ll need for the bench and backrest. To avoid a future migraine, it helps to label your pieces. Using (4) of the 1×6 for the rails, rip to 2 ½” wide and cut to 5 ½’ long, which yields the (8) pieces needed for the top and bottom backrest and top and bottom bench rest. (These will be laminated and glued to double-ply for added strength in a later step.) Then cut enough to end up with (10) 18″ slats for the bench and (5) 15 ½” slats for backrest (also to be later laminated and glued.)

After your rails are cut, lay out where the slats will be placed along the backrest, mark the spots and mortise in the recessed areas for the tongues using a router. Cut the tongues on all the slats as well, so everything is prepped and ready to fit.

Next, laminate the rails taking care to line up the mortises, and glue and clamp along the entire length. After the rails are clamped, pilot (4) evenly spaced, ½” holes and tap in glue-coated, ½” dowels using the rubber mallet. Also, laminate and clamp the slats, making sure the tongues line up.

Let everything set overnight. Pop off the overage of the dowels with the chisel, and go over both the rails and slats using an orbital sander. (This will save time when you’re ready to do a final sand.)

Once all your pieces are dry, begin installing the backrest slats into the backrest rails. Constantly checking for square, insert the tongues into the grooves, (don’t forget the glue!), and clamp each spot. Pilot a ¼” hole through the rail and into each slat’s tongue. Tap in the glued, ¼” dowels with the mallet and let set overnight.

Follow the same process for the bench rails and slats, making sure to pop off excess dowels and sand after each phase.

At this point, start on the vertical supports that connect the bench to the backrest. I used 3″ wide, triple-ply for additional support. After the pieces are glued and dried, drill 3/8″ receiving holes for the dowels, and follow the same process of gluing and tapping the dowels in with the mallet- keep checking for square!

adirondack armrestThe last things to attach are the armrests. Use your best judgment as far as height placement. (The armrest height on this porch swing is a bit low; but that’s what felt most comfortable for me. I’m ridiculously short.)

Now it’s time to install the (4) lag bolts. This is one of only places hardware was used, but it’s a good idea as this porch swing will end up bearing a lot of drunks weight. Screw the bolts in at the points of intersection between the vertical rails and the bench and backrest. I also used a few wood screws for the armrests. Cheating? Maybe. But I was over the “old-school” stuff at this point! Install the (4) eyebolts, which will accommodate the chain, in the appropriate spots.

Go over everything with a final, hand sand using 220 grit to get rid of any swirl marks from the orbital. Triple coat with Minwax Helmsman exterior grade weather and water guard, and your Adirondack porch swing is ready to go.

Photo of author

About Liz

Liz is a professional, custom picture framer based in Central New York. She and her contractor husband are currently renovating their second home together. At the time of this writing, they are not on speaking terms. Her love of making stuff with wood and DIY home projects began by watching her Dad. (It was also around this time Liz's incessant use of "colorful language" took root.) She's an avid gardener, stellar cook and doesn't throw like a girl: an all-around rad chick.

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2 thoughts on “How to Build an Adirondack Porch Swing- The Beer Will Taste Better”

  1. this is by far the best built from a design and workmanship perspective that I have seen on the entire internet


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