Top Secret....Rocker for my Wife #9: Updated progress

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Blog entry by bues0022 posted 03-28-2011 06:04 AM 2178 reads 1 time favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: Problems and questions Part 9 of Top Secret....Rocker for my Wife series Part 10: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me »

I haven’t been too great at keeping this blog updated. On weekdays, I typically work in the shop until 10:30 or so, and am too tired to post. Work has been crazy busy, so haven’t had time there. Weekends I’ve ben out of town lots, so no time there either. Good news is I’m making progress. Bad news is not as fast as I need to, and I still don’t have the wood for my legs/arms. (I should have it this time next week though). Updates on progress:

I’ll start with the seat. If you’ve followed my blog, you may remember the problems I had with the spalted maple. It warped, checked, never stayed straight. After the initial disappointment of it moving after the first attempt at flattening, I steamed it, clamped it flat, an put it in an oven at 140 degrees for about 36 hours:

After dry, I took it back over to Jeff (JL7) and reflattened it. Thanks so much for access to the drum sander!! result was a flat, cracked board thinner than I wanted. – the cracks happened during drying – After consulting several others, the final idea was to continue using the board anyway with the cracks, and during glue-up, put pressure horizontal to pull the cracks together while glueing to the other boards. (seat is a laminate of walnut top, spalte maple middle, walnut bottom).
Walnut top being glued:

After Glue:

Then, the three layers were glued together:

I haven’t taken any pictures of the outcome, because it’s still not done. Because the maple got so much thinner than I wanted, I now need to glue ANOTHER layer of walnut on the bottom to build up thickness. I will be doing that this week.

In between all the gluing of everything seen on this page, I made the templates for other parts I’ll need while working on this project:

Next, headret. As you’ll see, my headrest is a bit different styled than most. Each headrest billet is a two-ply laminate (couldnt find thick enough wood initially). I like how it’s coming along.
Billets, top row is the inside, bottom row is outside:

Glueing th front and back together to form a full thickness billet:

I missed taking pictures of all the individual billets, and the multi-angled final glue up. One interesting side-note. I didn’t use any pinch dogs like the plans called for. I didn’t want to damage my wood, and since parts of my wood are spalted maple, I wasn’t sure how well they would work on potentially damaged wood. So, I got creative with clamps. I first took two 2×4’s and glued 120 grit sandpaper to one edge. Then I clamped this to the end-most billet to create a place for other clamps to pull from (so I wasn’t pulling across the entire headrest potentially snapping other joings). It worked well, but took a long time to get right. I’m glad I’m only making one chair!
Another problem with the headrest is that I don’t have a bandsaw capable of cutting the arc on this 8” tall headrest. So, I went with the tools I had: beltsander, small hand plane, sandpaper, and elbow grease. It took me a total of nearly 6 hours of sanding and shaping, but it’s pretty good now.

Final look at the outside of the headrest:

I’m still not quite sure how I’m going to do the ID of the headrest. Neither the belt sander nor the handplane will work. I tried a ROS, but it’s not going to work for this application. I’m thinking about just using a carbide carving bit on an angle grinder, and lots more elbow grease with sanding. You gotta make due when you have limited tools!

While I didn’t tke pictures of the raw pieces, I also have the rockers and backrests glued up.

Don’t worry, the rockers have no been trimmed to length yet. They are nearly 5 inches too long, so that back arc will be much more subtle and not look as huge when I’m done. I just don’t want to trim it yet, until more things are in place and I know exacty where to cut.


After glue-up:

Glueing the extra thickness adders on the bottom of each:

Adders feathered in to make a more gentle curve:

That’s about where I’m at for now. I know it doesn’t look like much, but I don’t have all the bells and whistles in my shop that make many of these tasks simpler and quicker – so, lots more elbow grease. That’s ok though, I’m enjoying working on it and learning a lot while I go. All the little changes I’m making probably don’t help me much either with the speed. I’m hopig that once I get a bit more “on track” with the plans, the speed will pick up. I’ll have some more questions coming about the seat/leg joints, but since this is long enogh already, I’ll put those up in a differnt post. Any input is always welcome!

-- Ryan -- Bristow, VA

9 comments so far

View JL7's profile


8785 posts in 3942 days

#1 posted 03-28-2011 02:03 PM

Hey Ryan – looking like your making some good progress – nice work!


-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View bues0022's profile


256 posts in 4137 days

#2 posted 03-28-2011 03:00 PM

Thanks Jeff. I couldn’t have gotten off the ground without your help. I’m making progress, but not without a lot of swearing and head scratching! I think I work too much like my godfather (who’s shop I’m using), who says he’s not a good woodworker, but he can usually figure out how to recover from his mistakes!

-- Ryan -- Bristow, VA

View Will Stokes's profile

Will Stokes

267 posts in 4331 days

#3 posted 03-28-2011 03:26 PM

You’re really humming along now. I really like the look of the spalted maple + walnut combination. I look forward to seeing this project progress. :-)

View Bertha's profile


13588 posts in 3670 days

#4 posted 03-28-2011 03:32 PM

Wow, this is really impressive. Thanks for taking the time to document this project!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View bues0022's profile


256 posts in 4137 days

#5 posted 03-28-2011 03:44 PM

Looking through the pictures, I think I forgot to mention the wood species layup of the backrests. Spalted mpale front, two layers of walnut in the middle, and ash on the back. Ash was used for two reasons: 1) strength, flexibility, and durability when flexed, and 2) More importantly – I ran out of good spalted maple :) I still like the look though because I found ash with a lot of color to it. Currently, that’s the only spot I’m planning on using the ash – but we’ll see what else I goof up and need to repair :)

-- Ryan -- Bristow, VA

View Karson's profile


35269 posts in 5377 days

#6 posted 03-28-2011 03:47 PM

Some nice progress pictures. It’s starting to look very nice is it’s design.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Canadian Woodworks's profile

Canadian Woodworks

702 posts in 4047 days

#7 posted 03-28-2011 05:23 PM

You well on your way now, keep us updated!

-- Paul Lemiski, Ontario Canada, Custom Wooden Rocking chairs and tables

View bues0022's profile


256 posts in 4137 days

#8 posted 03-28-2011 06:32 PM

Shoot! I neglected to thank you guys too for your very helpful feedback and insight to some of my design aspects. It was quite late last night and I was tired from a full day in the shop. I think I’ll only have one more major design/implementation question :) Much of the rocker laminate design can be traced back to you guys, so thank you!

-- Ryan -- Bristow, VA

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3597 posts in 4689 days

#9 posted 03-29-2011 04:18 AM

Wow, Ryan, you’re really making good headway. This is such an ambitious project. Your wife will be so incredibly delighted when it’s unveiled! Thanks for keeping us posted.


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin -- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

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