Rocking Chair Build - Due Oct 5 #10: Assembly, Sanding, and Finishing!

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Blog entry by Marshall posted 12-29-2015 03:46 AM 1672 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 9: Laminating the Rockers Part 10 of Rocking Chair Build - Due Oct 5 series no next part

Ok, finally after about 8 months of work (in my spare time between full time job and full time school), all of the pieces are done. It was time to assemble and glue up the chair!

I started by gluing on the back legs. I used clamping blocks cut at 6 degrees so that the clamps would be square with the faces of the legs which cant out at 6 degrees.

Once the front legs were shaped (see Part 5), I attached the adder blocks for the arm transitions. These blocks were cut from the same slabs as the front leg and arm billets were cut. Again, I utilized the same sapwood edges to maintain the flow of color from the leg into the arm. The adder blocks were oriented at 10 degrees using the jig shown.

Once the adder blocks were in place, and radii cut for the transition, it was time to glue the front legs to the seat:

Now that the legs are in place, I need to fit the headrest. I described the process of fitting the headrest in Part 8. This next photo shows the headrest being fit, and holes drilled for the headrest screws. The screws are used to hold the headrest in place until final fitting of the back braces. Once the back braces are installed, the headrest is glued. The screws are used to clamp the glue joint and are removed once the glue is cured.

A perfect fit:

Once the headrest was properly located and fit, I marked the joint locations and cut the 41” radius on the top and bottom of the headrest. This photo shows the result. It also shows the left arm being clamped – this was after the screw had been inserted through the back leg into the arm joint and the glue had set for some time.

This photo shows how I aligned the arm to place the screw and initially clamped it for gluing.

Ok, now I have the legs, arms, and headrest in place. It’s time to sculpt the joints and sand the chair (the back braces will be installed after being sanded to 1000 grit. once they’re in place, I wont have good access to the inside edges of the legs, headrest, or seat, so I want to sand all of that before the back braces are installed).

Leg joints prior to sculpting:

Arm joint prior to sculpting:

Sculpting the leg joint with the angle grinder:

Sanding the arm joint with a drum inserted in my cordless drill

The resulting front leg joint:

This shows the leg and arm joints complete. You can also see the back brace holes drilled in the bottom of the headrest:

Ok with all the sculpting and the majority of the sanding done, I can finally install the back braces.

First, I marked the bottom of the headrest on each of the back braces so the tops of the braces could be shaped (see Part 6).

The back braces are in. I can actually sit in it now!

The last thing to do before final sanding and finishing is attach the rockers.

This photo shows the chair sitting on top of the rockers.

Here I am locating the joints and drilling pilot holes for the 4” screws that will ultimatley hold the joints.

In this photo, I’m using “the sandpaper trick” to adjust the joint and make it perfectly flush. The other joints are being held with screws for now…

Here I am gluing the back legs to the rockers. For these joints, I used two part epoxy and the 4” screws.

The transitions were cleaned up with the angle grinder and the sanding drum in my drill. Here is one of the transitions after being rough shaped:

And my setup for final sanding:

More sanding – I think I spent 3 full days doing this :-/

Once all the sanding was complete, there was nothing left to do but apply the finish… I also carved a note in the bottom of the seat for my son using a die grinder. I used watco natural danish oil for the finish. It was super easy to wipe on and wipe off, and looks great.

Here is a shot after while the oil is still wet:

And finally, the chair is done!! This project tested all of my skill. It’s nowhere near perfect, but I’m quite happy with the way it turned out. I’ve learned a ton through the process and am a much better woodworker as a result. I couldn’t have done it without Hal and his yahoo group’s support. Please take a look at his Rocking Chair University if you’d like to make your own!

Here are a couple photos of the chair in its intended use environment. I’ll post some more photos in a finished project post a little later. Thanks everyone for looking!

-- Marshall -

5 comments so far

View bearkatwood's profile


1809 posts in 1618 days

#1 posted 12-29-2015 01:12 PM

Very well done, I like your back slats and the use of the sapwood. I used to do all that grinding, but I have tried to get away from it. I use a micro plane with removable heads for about 80-90 percent of my shaping now and it works great, way less dust. I transition to a file and then scrape with a card scraper instead of sanding. I only finish sand starting at 180+. Too bad you have to share your shop with that car thingy ;)
Your chair turned out beautiful and I know that little kiddo is going to love it.
Great Job!

-- Brian Noel

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3296 days

#2 posted 12-30-2015 01:00 AM

You did a beautiful job on that rocker (Sam would be proud). Thanks for taking us along on the journey.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Reaperwoodworks's profile


94 posts in 1541 days

#3 posted 12-30-2015 03:26 PM

Gorgeous work.

-- Website:, Youtube:

View alholstein's profile


229 posts in 4648 days

#4 posted 12-30-2015 07:27 PM

A beautiful chair and many beautiful memories.

-- Al Holstein "I wood do it"

View scottiej's profile


5 posts in 2631 days

#5 posted 01-19-2016 05:33 PM

Congratulations on the chair and more importantly on your newborn son. Assuming the rocker is for him to take when he leaves the nest, I’m sure he’ll cherish it! Well done sir.

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