Shakerstyle Rocker

We designed a traditional-looking rocking chair and built it with a few non-traditional woodworking techniques.

At first glance, this rocker looks like an old-fash. ioned Shaker rocker. But while we borrowed some of the clean lines and graceful curves of the Shaker "classic," there are some significant changes we made to the design of this rocker.

For one thing, Shaker rockers included legs that were tapered and often given a slight bend. But you don't need a lathe or a steam box to build this chair. The legs and the rails that connect them are made from simple, straight dowels that are l1/^", 1", and 3A" in diameter.

But where do you find 1 '//-dia. dowels — especially ones over 42" long? I'll admit we had a hard time finding sources for dowels this size ourselves. Plus, we were concerned that they would not be truly straight and round. But the solution is simple. You can make the dowels yourself. All it takes is a router table and a few round-over bits. The technique is straightforward. And because you can pick your own stock, you have a better chance of ending up with dowels that are straight and perfecdy round. (We've included a separate article on working with dowels, see page 14.)

There was even an unexpected benefit to this technique. The chair requires two sets of holes along each leg. And because the seat is tapered front to back, these holes aren't 90° to each other. Working with store-bought dowels would have required a special holding jig. But with our method, the holes could be drilled in the square blanks before they were "turned" into dowels.

Of course, I haven't even mentioned the woven seat yet. This is another common feature on Shaker rockers. And here we pretty much stuck to tradition — except for the material that was used for the stuffing between the two layers of cotton webbing. (We decided to use a l"-foam pad instead of what the Shakers used — horse hair.) But other than that, the technique is the same, refer to the article that begins on page 18.

CAP RA'L

from square stock, see page 14

FRONT LEG

Tenons on ends of rails are routed with core box bit art/c/e on page'»

Arm fits in notch cut in back leg

hack with countered woodscrew

TOP VIEW

Woodsmith

Pin arm in place with dowel

Arm rests shouldered tenon

Tenons on ends of rails are routed with core box bit

FRONT LEG

CAP RA'L

Mortises for rails drilled while blanks are square art/c/e on page'»

i/2"-thick rockers fit into notches cut

In eas and secured

Arm is pinned through ^ tenon on h I

hack with countered woodscrew

SIDE

SECTION VIEW

Arm rests shouldered tenon

41/2"-long decorative profile Tightens look of leg

Construction

Details

Pin arm in place with dowel h back leg

TOP VIEW

Woodsmith

NOTE: AH

dowels can be shop-made from square stock, see page 14

backrest post

Arm fits in notch cut in back leg

Cotton tape wraps around backrest sandwiching

WcUam

All backrest rail holes are W-dia.

TOP SECTION VIEW

BACK LEG

NOTE:

Front leg rotated to show hole locations

Waste

Waste

FRONT LEG

BACK LEFT LEG

BACK LEG

FRONT LEG -

Angled holes

NOTE:

All holes drilled 1" deep

All upper rail holes are

FRONT LEFT LEG

NOTE: All leg blanks are an extra 5" long for rounding over edges, see Fig. 2

Face that holds back rails

Face that holds side rails

NOTE: All leg blanks

2V2" T that

Face * ** holds that side holds " ra,'s front * *

rails " Waste

' To build the rocker, I began with the four legs, see drawing above right. It seems a bit odd to start off with square blanks when the legs are going to end up as dowels — but that's exactly how this project begins. [ CUT TO SIZE. First cut four leg blanks IV2" x iy2", see margin drawings. Then the back (A) and front legs (B) can be cut to rough length — I , sized mine an extra 5" longer than /^i ■ the finished length of the legs. I ^ IAY OUT BLANKS. The next step is to 2" carefully lay out the blanks, see draw-2Y ings in margin. First, I measured up t, 2l/z" from the end of each blank to ^ mark what will be the bottom edge. Then measuring from this mark, I laid out the top end of each leg.

All lower rail holes are %"-dia.

Notches for—'' rockers centered on face of legs

NOTE: Lay out notches for rockers on both faces of each leg blank

Next, you can mark the position of the holes for the rails. This sounds easy enough, but there are a couple things to keep in mind.

For one thing, you don't lay out the front (or back) legs exactly the same — they're mirror images of each other, see drawing and detail 'a' above.

Also, note that the dimensions for the side rail holes on the front and back legs are not the same, as you might expect, see margin. The holes in the back legs are l1/^" closer to the bottom end. Later, when the rockers are added, this offset will help tip the chair back at a comfortable angle.

The last things to lay out are the notches for the rockers, see drawing. I drew them on both faces of the legs to help me keep things oriented.

DRILL HOLES. With the legs laid out, the next step is to drill the holes. First I drilled the 90° holes for the side rails on all four legs. Just keep in mind that there are two hole sizes. The upper side rail holes are 3/i"-dia., see above. The lower rails require %"-dia. holes.

The holes for the front and back rails are a little different. They're drilled at a 6%° angle, see detail 'a' above. To do this, I used a simple wedge to set the blank on, see Fig. 1.

To make the wedge, tilt your saw blade 6W and cut a thin wedge from a 1 '/¿"-thick piece of scrap. Then set the wedge on the drill press so it

Waste

Forstner bit "SJ

Aux. Forstner fence bit /

-radius round-over bit

6V2° wedge

Front face

Front face

NOTE: For more on making dowels, see page 14

Stop cut about 2" short of both ends

Wedge

Woodsmith angles towards the fence, see Fig. la.

It is possible to drill these angled holes in the wrong direction. So to avoid this, I marked the front face of each leg. Then when drilling the holes, I always made sure this face was set against the fence.

ROUND OVER EDGES. With the holes drilled, the next step is to use a round-over bit in the router table to turn the square blanks into dowels, see Fig. 2. This is an easy procedure, but it requires a careful setup. For more information, see the article on page 14.

CUT NOTCHES. Now before cutting the dowels to final length, I cut the VZ-wide notches for the rockers on the bottom of each leg, see Fig. 3.1 used a band saw for this, cleaning up the top shoulder with a sharp chisel.

CUT TO LENGTH. Now the legs are ready to be cut to final length, see Fig. 4 and the drawing on page 8. There's nothing tricky here. Just cut carefully to the layout lines (though you may need to lay them out again since you've routed the edges).

CREATE TENONS. Now the only thing left on the legs is to shape the ends, see drawing above. The top of each leg gets a tenon. But they're not the same size or shape.

On the top of the front legs, I chose a square-shouldered tenon to provide solid support for the arms later. To do this, I used a straight bit to rout a 3/4"-dia. tenon W long, see detail 'a' above. (For more on routing tenons on dowels, refer to page 15.)

Tenon with rounded shoulder

Square-

shouldered tenon fl note:

For more on routing tenons on dowels, see page 15

Square-

shouldered tenon

note: All four leg bottoms are identical note: All four leg bottoms are identical

Aux. fence

V2"-dia. straight bit

Vl6"

tl front w leg

Aux. fence

_J

\

f

Vi'-dia. core box bit

back

1 I ®

r-Y

/to

K-

II

1!

For more on shaping bottom of legs, see page 23

FRONT SIDE

The back legs also have a tenon on the top that's created with the same routing technique. But this time, the l"-dia„ W-long tenon has a round shoulder thaf s created with a '/¿"-dia. core box bit see detail V and page 15.

ROUT PROFILE. I also decided to "lighten" the top of the front leg with a decorative profile. This 4W'-long profile is created just like the tenon on each back leg, using the same technique and router bit, see Fig. 5. But this time, the cut is shallower (only V«").

Safety Note: Since this profile is so long, I added a second support board to keep my fingers a safe distance from the bit see Fig. 5.

TAPER LEGS. To complete the legs, all that's left is to soften the bottom end of each, see detail 'c' above. This is easy to do with a file and sandpaper. (For more on this, see page 23.)

Aux. fence

TOP VIEW

TOP VIEW

safety note: Add second support block--

for long profile routing

Clamp both support blocks to table

Clamp both support blocks to table

note:

Support blocks removed for clarity note:

Support blocks removed for clarity safety note: Add second support block--

for long profile routing

Aux. fence

note:

Square shoulder of notch with chisel

Aux. fence note:

Square shoulder of notch with chisel

Waste

® BACKREST

The rails that connect the legs have tenons with rounded shoulders. For more on this procedure seepage 15.

The rails that connect the legs have tenons with rounded shoulders. For more on this procedure seepage 15.

LOWER FRONT RAIL

® BACKREST

LOWER FRONT RAIL

NOTE: All pieces start as square blanks an extra 5"long

1"-dia. dowel

DOWEL DIAGRAM

NOTE: All pieces start as square blanks an extra 5"long

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment