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The Adirondack chair is a simple rustic wooden chair for outdoor use. Originally made with 11 flat wooden boards, it features a straight back and seat and wide armrests. In English speaking Canada it is known as the Muskoka chair, from the eponymous Ontario district, and the Laurentian chair or chaise des Laurentides, in French speaking Canada.
The first Adirondack chair was designed by Thomas Lee while vacationing in Westport, New York, in the Adirondack Mountains in 1903. Needing outdoor chairs for his summer home, he tested his early efforts on his family. After arriving at a final design for a "Westport plank chair," he offered it to a carpenter friend in Westport in need of a winter income, Harry Bunnell. Bunnell saw the commercial potential of such an item being offered to Westport's summer residents, and apparently without asking Lee's permission filed for and received U.S. patent #794,777 in 1905. Bunnell manufactured hemlock plank "Westport chairs" for the next twenty years, painted in green or medium dark brown, and individually signed by him.
Originally the chair was call the Westport Plank Chair, but was renamed the Adirondack Chair after the mountain range Westport is located in; the Adirondacks.
Modern Adirondack chairs usually feature a rounded back and contoured seat, modifications made by Irving Wolpin, who received U.S. patent #109239 for his design in 1938.
Both hemlock and pine are inexpensive, and prone to termites, mildew, and rotting. Protecting either with both primer and regular coats of UV rated enamel is essential. Pressure treated pine is also used but contains chemicals harmful to one's health.
Cedar is a naturally rot resistant softwood found throughout North America. Left unfinished it will weather a soft silvery grey. There are many species, but the longest lasting is Western red cedar.
Cypress is another light, naturally rot resistant domestic wood that will weather similarly.
Imported teak is a very heavy tropical hardwood naturally impervious to rot and termites. Long-lasting, it is quite expensive (up to 3 times the price of cedar and 6 times pine) and does not take stain or paint well. It too will weather silver-grey.
Plastic lumber and engineered wood have also appeared in lieu of such traditional woods as hemlock, pine and cedar.
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- May, Gary. "Adirondack or Muskoka chairs, what's the difference".
- Harry C Bunnell patent no.794,777
- Reynolds, Carly. "The History of Adirondack Chairs". Artificial Plants and Trees. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
- Color choices have expanded from green and brown to red, orange, yellow and turquoise.Irving Wolpin patent no.109,239