Build a Rocking Chair This Weekend

With the right power tools, a good plan and intermediate woodworking skills, you can build a rocking chair in just a few days.
Choose a Style

Pick from one of the many styles available, including:

    * Adirondack rockers
    * Children's rockers
    * Swivel rockers
    * Dutailier Gliders
    * Porch rockers

Generally, a rocker with thick slats, limited ornamentation and clean lines is the best choice.

Choose the size, color and type of wood you will use, along with a good set of plans that gives you exact measurements. You will also need specific, step-by-step instructions.

Next, check to be sure you have the necessary tools and materials, including:

    * Jig saw, or band saw
    * Drill
    * Orbital sander
    * Belt sander
    * Screw driver
    * Protective eyewear
    * Wood stain
    * Paint brushes
    * Varnish

Finally, choose your wood. You can make rocking chairs out of hard and soft woods. Pine is a commonly used soft wood, while oak, maple, cherry and mahogany are good hardwoods. In selecting a wood, consider the individual grain and color of each type. Remember that soft woods are easier to work with but are more inclined to warp.

Now you are ready to begin the actual building of your chair. You will do this in three steps:

Step 1. Cutting and Sanding

In this step, you will cut wood for your chair's back legs, front legs, arm rests, seat slats, back support slats and rockers. As with all woodworking projects, take care to follow all instructions in your pattern or plan so as to avoid making mistakes in cutting your wood.

Your plan will show you where to carve out notches so certain pieces will fit better together.

Use a coarse grade of sandpaper to sand the rocker's rough spots, then a finer grade to finish. Be sure to remove all dust residues left from sanding.

Step 2. Assembly

Assembly will be easiest if you put the pieces together in a prescribed order. Work from the front of the chair to the back:

   1. Seat
   2. Front Support
   3. Backrest
   4. Rockers

Step 3. Finish Work

If you plan to use your rocker outdoors, apply a weather-resistant coating, like a good varnish. This finish will make cleaning and maintenance easier. When the varnish is dry, use a damp cloth to wipe away any dust left on the rocker's surface.