How To Design Your Own Rocking Chair

What You'll Need
Graph paper

Instead of purchasing a rocking chair, you could decide to build your own. There are kits and plans available for rocking chairs, but if you are going to build it yourself, why not go ahead and create your own design while you are at it? There are 5 key steps to coming up with a workable rocking chair design, ranging from determining the size of the chair to the reclining angle of the chair back, and how quickly it rocks back and forth.

Step 1: Size and Comfort

A custom oak rocking chair can be built to any size, large or small. As a rule, the seat should be at least 4 inches wider than the width of the person who will be using it. If you are building a rocking chair for a child, make it larger than that to account for growth over a period of years. Keep in mind that the seat back will usually take up around 1 ½ to 2 inches, so add enough depth to allow for back placement.

Step 2: Rocker Rail Span

If the rails on your rocking chair are too long, they will present a frequent trip hazard. If they are too short, the chair will be easily overbalanced, resulting in tipping and possible fall injuries. In general the rails should not extend more than 2 inches beyond the front edge of the seat, and the rear ends of the rails should be 4 to 6 inches longer than the back edge of the seat. Having a longer rocker in the rear of the chair prevents tipping and provides a consistent rocking motion when the chair is in use.

Step 3: Rocker Rail Angle

The rocker rail follows a gentle arc, but it does not have to be uniform. Some rockers turn up sharply at the front legs, and have a long, gradual curve sloping upwards from that point to the back. If the curvature is too severe, the rocking chair will have an odd tipping feel each time it rocks. A typical rocking chair design will have front and back rails that extend to between 1 1/2 and 2 inches above the floor.

Step 4: Leg Attachments

For proper balance, the legs should extend away from the seat base at up to a 5-degree angle. As a guideline, the chair legs should enter or contact the rocker rails approximately even with the edges of the chair seat. More of an angle is okay, but less angle and the chair will be more likely to tip or break, as the legs are forced to accommodate increased tensions.

Step 5: Back Angle

The chair back can be solid, or built from rails. Likewise, it may be a straight back, placed at an angle, or even built with a custom curvature that is modeled to fit a particular person's body. One thing to keep in mind is that as the angle of the chair back is increased, the length of the rocker rails need to increase as well, usually about an inch for each 5 degrees of incline.