Q: How long does it take you to build a set of chairs?
A: Well, That depends. If I have a good batch of wood to work with and if I don't make many mistakes while cutting and shaping the parts, I can usually complete a set of chairs in about 8-hours. This includes the time it takes to select the boards, plane them to a thickness, cut the parts to length, band-saw the shapes, belt-sand edges, round all faces and assemble.
I've posted a video that shows how I assemble a chair on the about-page.
Hand Crafted Outdoor Adirondack Furniture
Q: Where do you get your wood?
A: I get it from a lumber mill in SC. They are kind enough to package half bundles for me which helps keep prices reasonable. My hopes are that the availability sustains and we can continue to harvest this wood in a conservative manner that protects our forests and provides us with enough materials to build beautiful outdoor products without resorting to a species of wood that requires chemical treatment to last as long as this species does. I use #2 common which means you'll see knots and granular waves in random form. But since this wood is pricy and difficult to find at a reasonable price, I do not discard minor defects that frankly look fine and do not compromise functionality.
I am grateful for the opportunity to share answers to you who ask! It is an honor and privilege to build these chairs for you to relax in and be confident that they'll be with you for many years!
Q: Have you considered covering the holes over the screws?
A: Nope! Each part is hand-made and assembled manually. That means I hand drill every hole. Now if you've ever drilled 30 or 40 holes exactly the same, I'd like to get schooling from you how to do that with a hand drill! My point is this: To plug the holes would require inserting a cypress plug in each hole using an adhesive to bind it. Then sand it smooth. At this point, I'm not sure the plug would stay in, plus I may have issues with some being embedded deeper than others. I'm already fussy enough how my parts line up - last thing I want to do is worry about some plugs looking bigger or smaller because of depth issues. (This is the beauty of hand crafted workmanship - why hide it?)
Q: What kind of fasteners do you use?
A: Until I find a better option, I am using #8 x 1-5/8 and 2in star flat head (T-16) screws. These boys hold the boards together very taught. Plus they have a lifetime marine corrosion resistant warranty. I have old chairs I built using them and they held up just fine so far. Stainless is an option but I'd have to raise chair prices up to help pay for them. Ceramic coating works fine in most marine applications so long as you don't scrape the coating off of the surfaces of the fastener. To help protect the fastener, each one is recessed about 1/8 or more inch into the wood making it hard to scrape off the finish.
Q: Do I need to or protect my chairs from the weather?
A: That is your preference! Cypress is a very dependable material for outdoor use. There is no need to stain or paint the wood since it comes from a swamp. But if you do choose to finish it with a paint or stain, it will handle it just fine. The only thing that may be a draw-back is - based on the product you choose to use, you my have to update your finish annually. But hey, if it's a decorative option that blends in with your setting, then go for it! You won't harm the wood at all. Likewise, if you leave it unfinished, it will just fade to a beautiful antique gray you've seen it on many old barns and other outdoor structures from the classic era.
Q: What happens if I never finish my chairs?
A: They turn to an antique gray. I have a bench I made in my yard that was made in 2012. I have a photo of it here showing how the wood fades. See what you think. There are no signs of rot or checking.