A rocking chair from a tree

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Project by jdh122 posted 03-18-2014 09:32 PM 2262 views 3 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I just finished the seat on this post and rung rocking chair. I followed plans from Brian Boggs in an old FWW article.

I started with a log that I thought was maple but as I was building the back I decided that it was too light and weak to be maple. I don’t know what kind of tree it was since I never saw the leaves, but it’s too light for the structural parts of the chair. So the rest of it is red oak I hustled from a construction site at the start of the winter.

All pieces, except the rockers, are riven (wedge, axe, froe) from the log and worked with drawknives, spokeshaves and/or a scrubplane (this was for the arms). The backposts and the curved splats are steam bent.
No power tools except I used the bandsaw to cut out half of the runners (I used a hatchet to cut the other half of the runners out, but needed to use the bandsaw in order not to have to waste too much wood).

I learned a lot from this chair, and even have a second one that is almost finished, entirely out of oak and with a few tweaks that I learned along the way (for example I was making the round m+t joints way too tight).

Finished with amber shellac.

The chair seems to be relatively comfortable. It certainly rocks well (although this took a lot of messing about to get it right).

The project was a blast – this green woodworking is super addictive.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

11 comments so far

View dozuki's profile


103 posts in 3808 days

#1 posted 03-18-2014 09:36 PM

That is a sweet rocking chair, great work.

-- Couldn't think of anything clever. I LIKE WOOD

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 4721 days

#2 posted 03-18-2014 09:48 PM

Nice work!
Brian Boggs is the master, so pay attention to what he says. I sat in one of his chairs once (don’t even ask how much it cost) and it was heaven! and I even had a go at bending some wood with him in his shop – what a great guy and what a crafstman he is!

I think a bandsaw is ok in green woodworking! While I use the hatchet, drawknife, shave bench a lot, I also use the drill press and bandsaw too. I use the bandsaw for the same reason as you – to make the most of the wood.

Did you ever post your steam bending setup? I’d like to see how you do it.

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View Woodwrecker's profile


4239 posts in 4383 days

#3 posted 03-18-2014 10:25 PM

That is a beauty Jeremy !

View triviasteve's profile


225 posts in 2508 days

#4 posted 03-18-2014 11:24 PM

wow. that’s really amazing. my hat’s off to ya!

-- You know I'm on the level 'cause my bubble's in the middle.

View Woodbridge's profile


3718 posts in 3225 days

#5 posted 03-19-2014 01:49 AM

that is a beautiful rocker. I noticed the other chair in the background with the matching seat. it looks pretty noce as well.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View Kryptic's profile


294 posts in 2468 days

#6 posted 03-19-2014 03:08 AM

the simple fact, that a person can take from the forest, and make a chair that rocks and is comfortable, is music to my bones.


View Ken90712's profile


17888 posts in 3996 days

#7 posted 03-19-2014 08:38 AM

Awesome work, it looks so comfy! Well done.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View jdh122's profile


1167 posts in 3625 days

#8 posted 03-19-2014 10:38 AM

Thanks everyone for your kind comments. This kind of woodworking is surprisingly easy, and I’d encourage people to take a stab at it. It requires buying a few new tools that non-green woodworkers don’t generally have, and building a shavehorse, but that’s all part of the fun.

Daltxguy: you’re right about Boggs. The lines of his chairs just seem to be perfect, traditional but tweaked just slightly toward modern. I’m sure his work is worth the prices he charges.
I’ve only recently started using the hatchet more and find it very satisfying – it’s surprising how close you can hew to the line with a nice sharp hatchet.
You can see my first steam-bending setup in my previous chair posting – an electric kettle and PVC pipe. But that never worked very well (the connection between kettle and tube was leaky for one, so that bending inside during the winter filled the house with steam, plus the kettle had to be refilled often and sometimes boiled dry). I’ve since bought an Earlex wallpaper steamer and built a plywood steambox, which works a lot better.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3674 days

#9 posted 03-19-2014 01:49 PM

This is a fine piece and shows a lot of character.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View grace123's profile


258 posts in 3570 days

#10 posted 03-19-2014 01:50 PM

I note a companion chair in the doorway behind the rocker. Great job on both.

View Richard's profile


11309 posts in 3840 days

#11 posted 03-21-2014 06:59 AM

Very Nice! & Well Done! Thanks For Posting.

-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

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