Rocking chairs are great pieces of furniture to have around. Many parents cherish the memories of rocking their children to sleep at night. Rockers have been treasured and passed down from generation to generation. Building your own rocking chair is worth the effort. When you’re successful, you’ll have a piece that you and your family is sure to enjoy for years to come. Transforming an existing chair into a rocking chair is an easy way to get your feet wet and test the waters of rocking chair construction before you attempt to build the entire chair on your own.
First, choose the chair that you want to transform. It will need to be in fairly good condition and should be made of hardwood. If you are planning on using the rocker outside, cedar, cypress, or redwood is recommended. Pine, oak, mahogany, and maple are fine for indoor use. Pine is cheapest, but if you plan on passing your rocker down for generations, it may not be the best choice. It is softer and could have more problems as it ages.
First you will need to measure how long you want your rockers to be. You may want to look at some existing rocking chairs and compare them to your chair before you decide. Most rockers are over two feet long. Use a gentle curve and draw them however you’d like. Cut out your template using a jig saw.
Trace your template over the wood that you will use to form your rockers. The finished product should be at least two inches thick and wide to support the weight. After you cut out two identical rockers, you will need to determine where the holes for the legs will be. Use chalk on the chair leg bottoms to mark your spots.
You may need to remove the legs of the chair at this point. Using a lathe, shave down the feet of the legs so that they come to a round point. The diameter of the legs should gradually decrease from a few inches up down to the tip. Measure so that you don’t take off too much. You want your legs to almost equal the diameter of the circle that you will drill into the rockers.
To attach your chair legs to the rockers, you may only need wood glue. However, most people choose to use screws inside of inset holes from underneath the rockers to secure the legs. Make sure that your chair legs are braced together using slats or dowels. You can buy a wood dowel of any diameter, even custom diameters, and made of any type of wood. Use the lathe and then attach each dowel to each chair leg, much like you did the legs to the rockers.
About the Author: Dave Murphy is the founder and president of Good Wood, Inc. which manufactures wood products in Ohio. Good Wood, Inc. makes dowels and dowel rods, wooden balls, wood knobs, wooden toy parts, custom wood parts, and more. They offer safe wood finishing, wood turning and can import wood dowel products from off-shore suppliers when necessary. Visit http://www.goodwoodinc.com for your wood product needs.