Charles Rohlfs Rocking Chair Reproduction

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Project by Woodbridge posted 03-25-2012 05:33 PM 6654 views 12 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

One of my retirement objectives is to reproduce a number of Charles Rolhfs’ decorative chairs. This is my first, a reproduction of Rohlfs’ “1899 oak rocking chair”, a birthday present for my daughter.

The chair is made from 3” x 3” oak timbers that were used to stack truck frames when they were on the rail car going to the assemby plant. They were rescued from my father’s firewood pile. I cleaned , resawed, jointed, planed and glued them up them to make the various parts for this chair. As much as possible I tried to quarter saw the timbers.

The original Rohlfs chair had an upholstered seat and what appeared to be a short straight back. The reproduction has a carved wood seat and the back is curved and a little taller to improve comfort. I left the rockers longer than the original chair. The overall dimensions are 25” wide, 38” high and 40 “deep.

The chair is finished with Lee Valley Fumed Light Oak Analine Dye, several coats of Miniwax Tung Oil and a few coats of beeswax.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

19 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117800 posts in 4143 days

#1 posted 03-25-2012 05:57 PM

This is a unique style ,a wonderful job Peter.

View Woodbridge's profile


3692 posts in 2984 days

#2 posted 03-25-2012 07:25 PM

Thanks Jim. Rolhfs, although an arts and crafts era furniture maker, had a unique and perhaps a bit eccentric style compared to his contemporaries. I like his stuff, its quite interesting to build.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View stefang's profile


16875 posts in 3900 days

#3 posted 03-25-2012 08:00 PM

Excellent work on this Peter. It is an unusual and very nice design, well worth restoring to honor Rolhfs. That said, I especially liked that you improved the design without destroying it for more comfort and I bet nicer looks too.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 4122 days

#4 posted 03-25-2012 08:49 PM

Very cool chair, put together well.

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View MasterSergeant's profile (online now)


1421 posts in 3254 days

#5 posted 03-25-2012 10:02 PM

captivating work! Great, just a great looking chair!

-- Kelly, woodworker under construction

View Woodbridge's profile


3692 posts in 2984 days

#6 posted 03-25-2012 10:02 PM


-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2800 posts in 4158 days

#7 posted 03-25-2012 10:50 PM

Beautiful Reproduction! It looks nice and heavy, it should last for a couple hundred years.

-- Dennis Zongker

View DocSavage45's profile


8874 posts in 3409 days

#8 posted 03-25-2012 11:04 PM

Has an archetectural feel, and I’m sure the future owner will appreciate the modifications.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2008 posts in 4972 days

#9 posted 03-26-2012 12:54 AM

I’m a Rolhfs fan also!
Not many examples to see, but his story is interesting
good work.
I’d like to do one like was on the PBS Antique Roadshow, the high-backed sculptured chair with the carved lattice that looked sort of like a lava lamp looks.

good posting, good work,

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Woodbridge's profile


3692 posts in 2984 days

#10 posted 03-26-2012 01:45 AM

Hello Mark, thanks. Hopefully this week I will make a start on the Rohlfs” desk chair (which is the one shown on Antiuqes Roadshow). After that I want to reporduce his “tall back chair. I find his works so different.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

#11 posted 03-26-2012 02:14 AM

Wonderful chair,Peter!!!


View David White's profile

David White

120 posts in 3847 days

#12 posted 03-26-2012 02:54 AM

Gorgeous! You have done an excellent job with this. Did you have any plans or measured drawings? Is the circular latice work in the sides made seperatly and added in or is it cut in situ?



View Woodbridge's profile


3692 posts in 2984 days

#13 posted 03-26-2012 03:22 AM

David, thanks for the kind words.

All I had to go on was a picture of the chair and a picture of the lattice work, as well as the overall height width and depth of the chair. From the photos and the plans for a craftsman style rocking chair I did my best to scale the other dimensions. From this I made some sketches, a full sized plan, and a MDF mockup. After I completed the mockup I felt the chair was a bit too low and stretched the drawing to raise the height of the seat.

To make the medallion I traced the shape from the picture and then enlarged it to the correct size with my printer. Like the original, the medallion, which is 15 inches in diameter, is a separate piece. It is held in place with 3 splines inserted in a grooves that are routed into the inside of the chair and the medalian. Two of the splines are coverd by the seat. The one spline at the bottom of the medallion is just visible in picture 6 .

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View kokaneesailor's profile


35 posts in 3470 days

#14 posted 03-26-2012 04:10 AM

Awesome work Peter!

View deon's profile


2522 posts in 3592 days

#15 posted 03-26-2012 05:40 AM

Great work!

-- Dreaming patterns

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