Old Growth Cherry Rocking Chair

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Project by xraydav posted 12-27-2013 03:24 PM 1259 views 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

In 1984 my Father and I cut down a Cherry that needed to go for landscaping reasons. It was a tree my Mom had a swing in 75 years ago… We had the wood cut into boards and put it up in the Barn attic until 2011. I had never worked with rough cut lumber and had been working on accumulating the right tools… I got a thickness planer and jointer primarily for this project. (now that I have them I use them a lot) Prior to that I used hand planes for every thickness job… I have always enjoyed building with and making things from wood… this was my first attempt with amazing wood. I had a plan for a chair in my brain. I wanted to make all the spindles thicker at the bottom and thinner at the top, rather than bending wood to get lower back support. I also wanted the seat to be thick and the foundation for the chair. All of the wood we had sawn was max 5/4 thick. And despite being stacked with slats, it was cupped and checking in places. I needed to laminate boards together in order to get the thickness I wanted. And so it began with me learning how to use my Delta thickness planer on the rough boards. The color of the wood was immediately striking.
I tried to cut lengths that would eliminate splits and for the most part did pretty well. On a couple of the turnings there were places where there was deficit in the wood, and I filled them with epoxy. Once turned, and sanded and finished, they were mostly invisible. There are 14 lathe projects in this piece. I had never done this volume of work with so many repetitive parts. I bought myself a new Pinnacle 2” Roughing Gouge and it changed my lathe work from chore to joy! I also bought a 8” slow grinder to keep it sharp and that made all the difference. Second project in I upgraded from my 10 year old 99 dollar Railroad Salvage Chinese lathe to a Craftsman 12” and I read Keith Rowley’s basics book… and built the lathe bench he recommended. I was so afraid of messing up the Cherry that I made the chair in Pine first. I was not using any plans, and wanted to build it from my head. I did research on the net on arc angles for the rockers and decided on 42”. I made the seat and rockers in pine and experimented with leg length and angles till I was happy. Experimented with the angles and lengths for the back spindle as well and also for the center support which I determined I wanted to resemble a musical instrument. It is also thicker at the base… and the head rest I wanted to be thick and wishbone shaped… I ended up with this relaxed V shape made out of two pieces of 2” stock. The arms I basically carved out of laminated stock on my band saw until I got the monkey fist shape for the hand holds and I wanted the arms to have an aggressive angle to give the chair attitude. Finally I wanted to finish it in old school technique. I gave it 4 coats of Boiled Linseed cut 50/50 with spirits and let it dry 4-5 days between coats and finished it off with satin urethane sprayed on. It is no doubt my favorite project of my woodworking career…

-- David, Norwood Mass, [email protected]

4 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118016 posts in 4257 days

#1 posted 12-27-2013 03:53 PM

View Woodbridge's profile


3712 posts in 3098 days

#2 posted 12-27-2013 10:30 PM

beautiful work. You did justice to the cherry wood!

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View Stevie1's profile


26 posts in 2175 days

#3 posted 04-30-2014 04:50 PM

Great rocking chair, You should be very proud of your workmanship.


-- >>>>> Stevie <<<<< --

View Nicholas B. Cohen's profile

Nicholas B. Cohen

29 posts in 1999 days

#4 posted 10-18-2014 11:04 AM

Nice. Like that cherry.

-- Nicholas

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