Walnut Leopardwood rocking chair #1: My first Rocker from Hal Taylor's plans

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by mbs posted 11-14-2011 05:55 AM 16942 reads 9 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Walnut Leopardwood rocking chair series no next part

My daughter is pregnant and I though I surprise her with a rocker for her first born. The rocker will be made of leopardwood and walnut. I got 8/4 ash for the laminate forms. I’ll have about 6 hours a week to work on it so it will take most of the winter. I haven’t ever made a rocker so I bought the plans from Hal Taylor and I’m already glad I didn’t try it on my own.

Day one
I bought some 1/2” baltic birch for the chair patterns, cut them on the bandsaw and sanded them. They’re hanging in the shop now.

I started straigtlining the 1.75” thick leopardwood today with my festool ts 55 saw and it overheated. It was a very slow cut. I don’t have my tablesaw where I’m building the rocker so I may have to either buy one or borrow one to get through this project.

After I straightlined the leopardwood I took a hand plane to the edges to get a nice glue joint…. well kinda.. my plane is pretty sharp but I couldn’t make anything but dust. That leopardwood is HARD and splintery. I checked the plane iron and it was pretty sharp. It willl cut hair off the back of my hand. I’m out of time this week but I’ll make the plane scary smart and see of that helps. If not, I may have to reconsider the leopardwood.
End of Day 1.

I bit the bullet and bought a industrial model sawstop tablesaw. It’s a 2008 model but it hasn’t ever been plugged in. I have to change the motor to a single phase before I can use it. It’s all dialed in though. I hope to get the motor tomorrow.

Almost all the forms and templates are made too.

I bought some 8/4 ash for the forms not realizing that I needed to Laminate the rocker and back form with ash. The ash I bought has too many knots pso I will have to use something else.

End of day 3

The seat is made of leopardwood and walnut. I took the glued up leopard wood to a local shop to have surfaced. They not only surfaced it but they also cut it to length – oops! they cut it 3/8” too short. I’ll have to make it work though. Here’s the seat glued up.

Shaping the seat

The back legs have the adder pc for the seat glued up.

I’ve lost count of days now.
Not a lot of progress lately. I’m still trying to set my shop up. I ordered a byrd shelix cutter for my jointer. after I removed my current cutter head I discovered that Gruzzly sent me the wrong cutter head. I’ve also been messing with my vac system. I need to install a filter on it now.

I made enough lams to do another chair. These are the extras.

The rocker lams and the back brace lams are glued up.

Spent the time making a coving jig to shape the arms. The jig worked well and now the arms are roughed out.

Started on the front legs. The joints are cut to fit the seat

Adder pcs are glued on the sides of the legs

The legs are cut to sweep towards the back of the rocker

I started shaping the front legs but I need a router extension and I don’t have one. Time to buy some tools!

the front legs are routed and the back legs have the seat joint cut in. It still needs some final fitting.

Installed a byrd helical cutter in my jointer. It is so nice and smooth.

Shaped the frontlegs and backlegs some more but it cant be seen well in pictures. Shaped the seat perimeter and cut the headrest. Leopardwood may be the hardest wood I’ve worked with. It took over 2 hours to sand the inside of the headrest with a festool sander and 60 grit paper. I couldnt have pressed any harder. The bearings went out on my stationary sander so I didnt get the back of the headrest completed.

I changed the cutterhead to a Byrd Shelix and I love it. I want to change the planer now but it is expensive.

Worked on shaping the headrest. still need to shape the back legs into the headrest.
Formed, shaped and sanded the back braces and dry fit them into the seat. My router died in the process. ugh.

The next major steps are to glue the arms, shape the arms, build up the stacks on the rockers and attach the rockers to the chair. Then sand, sand and sand.

Arms are glued, rockers are roughly shaped a lot of sanding has been done. Need to shape the arms and glue the back brace.

This weekend was starting out to be very productive. I was glueing the headrest in and I had the slightest gap that I wanted to close so I put a clamp on across the headrest assembly and started tighthening it when it broke almost in half. It didnt break on a glue line but did break at one of the loles for the back braces. It took me most of the day to cut out the bad section and fit compound shims and put it back together. The arms are on and sculpted. Just have the rockers remaining.

The rockers are attached and I’m working on the transitions.

The chair is finally final sanded

A heavy coat of danish oil will bring out the grain

I tested the rocking chair with the new baby and I think she likes it.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

7 comments so far

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6883 posts in 5471 days

#1 posted 11-14-2011 05:59 AM

Congrats on the coming grand child.

That’s quite a project you’ve lined up.

Good luck with it.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View papargbear's profile


75 posts in 5113 days

#2 posted 03-14-2012 09:30 AM

Gorgeous. The contrast between the lacewood is subtle but very beautiful. Great job! I’m sure your daughter will treasure it forever.

View sscartozzi's profile


74 posts in 3252 days

#3 posted 08-14-2013 02:46 AM

Great job. Love the wood variety combinations. I’m thinking of taking on the same project also for my first grandchild.

-- Steve, Malvern, PA

View Bogie's profile


61 posts in 4325 days

#4 posted 11-29-2013 10:12 PM

That is some kind of Awesome Grand Baby… and Rocking Chair as well…
Love Love Love how the wood grain pops with your oil finish and craftsmanship is phenomenal.
Thank you for sharing!

-- Bogie... Roseburg, OR / Knowledge is Power!

View Hal Taylor's profile

Hal Taylor

25 posts in 4185 days

#5 posted 01-11-2018 11:58 PM

You are doing a great job young man! Looks like one of mine!

I know I am late to the party but better late than never!


-- Hal, VA,

View mbs's profile


1720 posts in 4432 days

#6 posted 01-12-2018 01:33 AM

Thanks, Hal! Couldn’t have done it without your instructions and guidance.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

View ShawnCB's profile


13 posts in 1261 days

#7 posted 01-12-2019 07:20 PM

beautiful! Great job

-- Shawn

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics