I am trying to make a rocking chair and I’m having trouble making the rockers. So far, I have tried three different versions but haven’t gotten it right. I am fairly new to furniture making and have limited tools, but I really enjoy it. Your magazine and website have really been helpful. Any advice you can give me will be appreciated. Here is a picture of the chair. – Tammy Massey
Chris Marshall: I’ve been woodworking seriously for about 25 years, Tammy, and I’m still working up to building my first rocking chair. And when I do, for the first one, I’ll follow a proven design that works the way a well-made rocking chair is supposed to. What I mean to say is, rocking chairs are rather complicated pieces of furniture to execute well. The arc of the rockers, their length and the position of the chair on them all contribute to how easy the chair is to sit down into, how smoothly it rolls back and forth and how safe the rocking action is. If the rocker arch is too steep, it could pitch you out like a bronco going forward or tip the chair over backwards. Either way ends badly. Make the pitch too shallow, and the chair’s action will be too short to be relaxing — you’ll have to work too hard at it.
I don’t mean to be a naysayer, and I sure appreciate your ambition! But it really might be a good idea to start with some easier projects than a complex chair. Or, perhaps you can buy a rocking chair kit with parts that are already roughed out and fitted with joinery, and take the project from there. Then, you can build on new woodworking skills such as shaping and sanding, gluing and clamping, and of course finishing, as you put it together. When you’re done, you’ll have a well-designed rocker that you’ll really enjoy using.