Thinking about building your own DIY rocking chair? Check out this project where I make it easy for you to follow along step-by-step!
Rocking Chair Templates
You know it’s funny how many seating options I’ve made since moving to the country. 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. This is a very simple design, but also super sturdy.
Table of Contents
Step 1: Outline seat bottom and seat back
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 Saw 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.
Step 2: Cut out pieces for the Rocking Chair
Moving back inside, I could now use the bandsaw to cut the parts out. On these, you only need two of each part so you’ll end up with four total parts. Once all four parts were cut out I started joining things together using wood glue and screws. I flushed up the two angles on the parts, clamped them down using my self tensioning Armor tool clamps followed by using a countersink to create a flush placement for my screws. I repeated the steps to make up a second side piece. Make sure to make it mirror the first and not identical.
When making furniture that will be used outdoors, make sure to use waterproof wood glue in order to offer some protection from the elements. Titebond III is my go to choice for any projects ending up outside.
Step 3: Create Rocking Chair Slats for Back Support
Ok, lets make some slats to span across those two supports! Using my miter saw stand I chopped all my boards 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
Remember that I have a running 5% off coupon code (“Wilkerdos”) you can use on any ClearVue dust collection item
Step 4: Soften the Edges
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.
Step 5: Attach Pieces for Rocking Chair Seat Assemblies
The first step in making the Rocking Chair sear is placing a small dab of waterproof wood 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.
I started by connecting 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 and also create even spacing between each slat.
For some extra reinforcement, I put screws on the ends of each board. I predrilled using a countersink before I drove 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, the seat is done!
Rocking Chair Templates
Step 6: Making the Rocking Chair legs
First I ripped my boards to width at the table saw, then used the Miter Saw to cut the end angles and also the length of the boards. 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 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. Now I have a half lap at both bottoms that will later join to the rockers.
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.
Step 7: Cleaning up the details!
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. 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.
Step 8: Making the first Rocking Chair Rocker
To be completely honest, 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 and how well the chair works.
In order to make sure I get this perfect, I grabbed a piece of cardboard then traced a rocker that I knew I like the feel of to create a template for myself. I used the band saw to cut it out and when I knew I liked the shape I traced it onto my cedar board. 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.
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. It’s really important to get the bottom curve to not have any hitches in it. My rocking chair templates can help you there! Once you have a template, you can use a flush trim bit to make the remaining three. Remember to turn down the router speed if you get into a larger diameter bit.
Step 9: Testing the Rocking Capability of the Rocking Chair
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. On 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.
I wanted to do a dry fit and test it out before I did the joinery in the rockers. What I did was clamp one rocker to the chair legs, clamped the seat to the legs, and then tested it out.
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. 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.
Step 10: Putting all the pieces together
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.
Step 11: Adding Arms to the Rocking Chair
There is still one last component….arms! 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. I used a countersink here as well to seat them under the surface and give it a nice smooth feel. On the back, I punched a hole through and attached it using a carriage bolt.
You’ve completed the Rocking Chair! This is such a great piece to have around whenever you’re looking to relax. At this point you can put some finish on it or paint it to make it more personal. This design can be made alone or in bulk with the help of my rocking chair templates, I have them available here! Happy DIY-ing!
Rocking Chair Templates
If you would like DIY rocking chair templates, I have them available here!
Rocking Chair Templates
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!
Things Used In This DIY Rocking Chair Project:
ISOtunes Bluetooth Hearing Protection
Armor Mobile Workbench
Armor Hold Down Clamps
Triton Circular Saw
Wilker Do’s Miter Saw Stand
Wilker Do’s Ultimate Workbench
Armor Pocket Hole Jig
Bessey Quick Clamps
Triton Large ROS
Infinity Round Over Bit
Wilker Do’s DIY Drill Press Stand
Titebond Instant Bond
Titebond Quick and Thick
Wilker Do’s DIY Plywood Workbench Modifications
Infinity Mega Flush Trim Bits
Cross Cut Sled
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