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Building Your Own, Ahhhhh, Rocking Chair! October 11, 2011

As a precursor to the article, I just want to add that I absolutely love a simplistic rocking chair and the whole idea of sitting on the porch, rocking away to the passersby. 
Porch Rocking Chair

Rocking Chair Image Courtesy of Flickr Member robinrkc


If you like woodworking and are looking for a project that your family can enjoy for years to come, you might want to consider building your own rocking chair. Your creation will not only become a functional addition to your home decor, but can evolve into family heirloom that will have future generations passing on stories about the chairs creator. If you plan on making a rocking chair your next wood shop project, here are some tips to help you on your way.Choose a Design

Depending on your skill level, you’ll want to choose a style that you feel comfortable with. If you’re an expert woodworker more intricate designs might be a breeze, but if you’re a novice you might want to try something more basic. Once you know what kind of design you’d like to build, you’ll have to decide whether you’re going to draw your own plans or obtain pre-planned blueprint.

Again, your skills come into play. If you’re a seasoned carpenter making your own plans may not be too intimidating, but for those less skilled it could be a daunting task. If you do decide to go with an original design, keep in mind that the more arc the rocker feet have, the more extreme the forward and backward motion. Chairs with intense arcs can dump small children off onto the floor or leave holes in the walls behind them. Having a design with slightly arced feet is most beneficial in placement and function.

Selecting Materials

You can use almost any wood for this type of project, but if you want the piece to last choosing a sturdy hardwood is best. Cherry, maple, alder, oak, walnut, or mahogany work great and withstand the test of time. Your wood choice also affects the selected finish. If you’re looking to stain the piece a dark color, steer clear of maple and oak. Maple tends to turn blotchy and oak leaves golden highlights that produce a less uniform finish.

The Needed Tools

Rocking chairs were built long before power tools existed, so they aren’t required, but they do make the job a lot easier. Here are some basic tools you’ll need.

• Miter saw or circular saw for cutting wood to length
• Table saw for rip cuts
• Drill with a counter-sink bit
• Power sander or an orbital sander for finishing
• A router for rounding the edges
• Quality wood clamps that won’t mar the wood
• T square
• Finish nailer

Assembly

Once you have all the pieces cut, put them together beginning with the legs and seat, working your way toward the back, and finally to the rocker feet. Attach all pieces using both wood glue and either screws or finish nails. Make sure the metal fasteners are sunk into the wood far enough that you can use wood putty to fill the hole and create a seamless finish.

Tips for Reducing Squeaks

Make sure each piece fits tightly together and that you rub the end of any spindles with talcum power before inserting in their countersunk holes. If you’ve used bolts, make sure they are tight and that any metal flex joints are oiled. If squeaking continues it may just be that the floor underneath the chair is not level, try moving it to a different location.

Kids and adults of all ages enjoy the soothing movement of rocking chairs and building one of your own can be a quite a fulfilling accomplishment. There is no better way to bring comfort to the future generations that will continue beyond your lifetime.

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