Build A Rocking Chair

You know it’s funny how many seating options I’ve made since moving to the country….adorondak chair, tall adorondak chairs, double person porch swing, single porch swing, bed swing…. If you can’t tell, I like to be outside and love having options. So lets add a rocking chair to the mix, shall we?

In this video I’m showing you how I made this one. 

Things Used in This Project:
ISOtunes Bluetooth Hearing Protection: http://amzn.to/2pEjNtv
Armor Tool Mobile Workbench: http://bit.ly/2JL03ix
Armor Tool Clamps: http://bit.ly/2Xew2e0
Mobile Planer Stand: http://bit.ly/2gkfHV7
Triton Thickness Planer: http://amzn.to/2r5YmT3
Titebond III: http://amzn.to/2zZIRQw
Glue Brush: http://bit.ly/2pJGNrU
Countersink Bit: http://amzn.to/2j6GfXk
Miter Saw Stand: http://bit.ly/2XKAo0J
Bessey Quick Clamps: https://amzn.to/2YZ0Dxk
Triton Router Table: http://amzn.to/2hM912C
Infinity Round Over Bit: http://bit.ly/2qT3yv2
Titebond Thick and Quick: https://amzn.to/2KflUe0
Triton Palm ROS: https://amzn.to/2Jgeven
Triton 4″ Belt Sander: https://amzn.to/2HCQgu7
Triton Router: http://amzn.to/2zRSdvF
Infinity Mega Flush Trim Bit: http://bit.ly/31ZyWVF
Triton Palm Belt Sander: http://amzn.to/2py8tQO
Bessey F Style Clamps: https://amzn.to/2RQ3VTS
Triton Multi Stand: http://amzn.to/2r9Igr9

One rocker requires six 1 x 6s of your choice of material. I had cedar left over from my picnic table (oh yeah, add that to the seating options list!) so that’s what I used.

I spent some time in my 3D modeling software designing the chair so that I could cut out some custom templates to make this job go a lot smoother. I started by tracing out the templates to the seat bottom and the seat back onto my cedar board. 

Since cedar comes with only one side smooth and the other really fuzzy, I use the miter to cut the parts to rough length first but then run each part through the Thickness Planer before moving on. This will drastically reduce your sanding time later on. Since I made my stand for the planer mobile, I always move it out to my shop porch to keep the mess down. : ) Pro tip. 

Moving back inside, I could now use the bandsaw to cut the parts out. On these, you only need two of each part and you could cut one, then use it for a template on the other. But I just took my time and cut both out individually and on my lines. 

Once all four parts were cut out I started joining things together. Titebond III is the waterproof glue so it’s my go to choice for any projects ending up outside. This will probably always be under my porch, but still.

I flushed up the two angles on the parts, clamped them down using my self tensioning Armor tool clamps then countersunk first then drove in two screws.

I repeated the steps to make up a second, making sure to make it mirror the first and not identical. 

Ok, lets make some slats to span across those two supports! I flipped out the wings on my miter saw stand, set a stop block to make these repeatable cuts go really fast but accurate, then chopped my board to length. Then I took them to the table saw to cut into strips. 

I keep the remote to my ClearVue DC on the drop down to my saw, so when I walk over to use the saw, I can switch it on. BTW: Remember that I have a running 5% off coupon code (“Wilkerdos”) you can use on any ClearVue dust collection item

Next was to round over all the edge for a softer look and also feel. I loaded all my slats up on my mobile workbench and wheeled them to my router table where I used a 1/2” Infinity round over bit on both of the long edges.

Ok, now load them back up and head back to the seat assemblies to start attaching them. 

I went ahead and used a small dab of glue on the underside of each slat. It’s a small surface area but with every one having glue at both connection points, it really adds a lot of stiffness to the seat once it’s put together. Even though this will live it’s life under a porch and should be protected from the rain, I went ahead and used Titebond III since it’s a waterproof glue.

I started with the very back most slat on the base, then jumped to the very front and worked my way back from there.

I cut a spacer to make lining these up go quick.

You can see I’m also predriling using a countersink before I drive in the screws. This will prevent splitting as well as make sure the screw head is seated below the surface. Make sure to use exterior grade screws here. 

Perfect, that’s the seat done. Lets set that aside for right now and bring in the parts that make up the legs.

I made these back when I was cutting up my other material, first ripping my boards to width at the table saw, then using the miter to cut the end angles and also the length of the boards. 

Now the joinery on this chair is half laps, but it’s kind of a faux half lap. What I did was use two boards, cut to different lengths then glued together to create the half lap. Whereas if I was using thicker material then I would have carved away half of it to create this joint.

As I put together this leg, I have my long stretcher, then a short one. I position a leg flush to the end to line up where the short one goes.

I made sure to test fit the second leg in place as well and see if it’s flush too. Since it was, I wiped the long stretcher clean, laid down some Titebond III and assembled for real this time. Instead of waiting for it in clamps, I used a brad nailer to act a clamp while that glue set up, trying to remove as much as the glue squeeze out as possible once I was done attaching things. 

Next I cut to length the second piece of the legs. I’ll call these the short legs, because I’m making another set of cheat style half laps here.

You’ll see in this shot here where I’m gluing them to the existing long legs.

I laid down wood glue, then attached the short legs to the long legs, making sure everything was lined up flush.

And now I have a half lap at both bottoms that will later join to the rockers. 

Before moving on, lets do some clean up work. If you don’t like the brad nail holes, keep in mind you can always use clamps. Or what I do in cases like these is use a dab of Titebond’s fast setting wood glue called Thick and Quick. I shove a small amount in the nail hole, then rub some saw dust into it. You can use your finger but a scrap also works. Now you can hit it with a sander and the holes all but disappear. 

Then while I was sanding, I gave all the parts up to this point a good run over, just hitting it with 180 grit right now. Then I took the frame to the router table and rounded over the edges on both sides with the same 1/2” bit. 

Alright, lets talk about the rocker.

When I decided to tackle a rocking chair I had no idea how complicated it was. And this bottom rocker portion is the reason it’s a difficult piece of furniture, the length, the slope, the placement in relation to the legs….it all factors into if the chair works and also how well. You ever sit in a rocking chair and it has too short of a stride? Or one where it felt like you would go backwards? That’s due to these tricky rockers. 

So what I did, was I grabbed a piece of cardboard then traced a rocker that I knew I like the feel of and created myself a template.

I used the bandsaw to cut it out then traced that on to a cedar board.

This part holds a lot of weight so when you are tracing this, tilt the template as much as you can to get as much straight grain running the length of the rocker.

When I cut this part at the bandsaw I cut as close on my line as possible then used my belt sander turned upside down and clamped to my workbench, to smooth it out. It’s really important that the bottom curve not any any hitches in it, so take your time here. Or you can buy my rocking chair templates and not worry about it. 

Because once you have a template that’s good to go, you can use a flush trim bit to make the remaining three. I’m using what’s called the Mega Flush Trim bit by Infinity and it can flat get the job done. Remember to turn down the router speed if you get into a larger diameter bit.

Ok another pause for clean up work. I wanted this rocker to fit into the half lap of the legs seamlessly which means I needed these short legs to match the curve of the top of the rocker. If you buy the Rocking Chair Templates, the short leg template will have this curve for you. But since I was doing this part as I went, I would set the part in place, saw where the high spots were, then used my palm belt sander to knock them down. This is such a good sander because the belt is flush on one side, meaning I could easily get into this 90 degree tight spot with ease. 

Now even though things looked good, I wanted to do a dry fit and test it out before I did the joinery in the rockers. So what I did was clamp one rocker to the chair legs…..clamped the seat to the legs…..then tested it out.

I was nervous about two things: 1) the rocking action feeling awful and 2) the clamps not holding and me busting my butt. Haha, thankfully neither was an issue. 

As you can see, I was thrilled it worked. Since it worked, lets make the second rocker. On the first rocker I held it in position then cut around the long leg. This gave me the half lap position that I could use a bandsaw or jigsaw to cut out.

This would make this piece way too weak to do any good except…a full rocker gets laminated directly on top of it. This not only makes it strong but also gives the outside a smooth look all the way down the rocker : )

Of course when gluing the rockers together, it’s really important they are lined up properly so you have a smooth rock. Just the same, it’s important to get all the glue squeeze out cleaned up afterwards as well.

After repeating to make a second, it was time to attach them to the body. I found the best way to do this was to lay it on it’s side to attach the first one.

I applied more Titebond III then set it in clamps for a few hours before standing it up and repeating on the second side. Using the help of my multi stand to prop up the front while the back end rested on my workbench. 

After the glue was dried on both sides, I reinforced these connections with some oak dowels. To do this, I grabbed a forester bit and drove about 1/2” through the leg. I placed two dowels at each connection, so four total per side. 

Ok even though it looks like a rocker, there is still one last component….arms. I wasn’t yet sure where the arms would fall on the back so when I was slatting, I just made them all the same. To make way for the arms to extend past the slats, I used my multi tool to nip off the ends of the same slat.

I used my template to trace out, then cut, then round over each one of the arms, before I positioned it on top of the legs and attached it.

I originally thought to do some blind dowels to pin this to the legs, but since the screws are exposed on the seat, I figured these would blend in as well. Of course, countersinking here as well to seat them under the surface, giving it a nice smooth feel. Then on the back, I punched a hole through and attached it using a carriage bolt. 

And that’s it! Ahhh, I can’t tell you how much I love it. I’m so happy with it.

I will probably end up putting some finish on it, but I just love the way the cedar looks so I’ll leave it for the mean time. 

If you would like templates, I have them available HERE.

I also have templates for other projects such as my porch swing templates, growth chart ruler, and lounge chair.

Every Rocking Chair Template purchase comes with a set of plans and of course a YouTube video. : )

Leave me your comments down below and I’ll see you on whatever I’m building next! 

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