Building a Thos. Moser Design New Gloucester Rocking Chair #10: Designing and Cutting the Rocker

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Blog entry by DustyMark posted 12-29-2012 03:27 AM 3466 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 9: Producing Wedges and Sawing Kerfs Part 10 of Building a Thos. Moser Design New Gloucester Rocking Chair series Part 11: Assembling the Lower Half of the Rocking Chair »

Designing the Rocker

I’m working from a handful of photographs and a sketch from the Thos. Moser website to build this rocking chair. It’s enough to follow, but a true plan would be more precise. Drawing a good rocker is particularly challenging without a detailed plan. I determined some critical intercept points for the rocker’s curve from the profile drawing. With my wife’s help, I drew a fair curve with a strip of scrap Formica.

After drawing the bottom curve, I inserted a set of legs in the seat blank and rested it against the drawing of the rocker. I determined accurate landing points for the leg tenons on the full-scale drawing. Establishing the centerline of the leg holes and the exact angle of the holes is critical for the legs to align properly between the seat blank and the rocker. I experimented with a pair of rockers from 2 X 6 scap. I confirmed my measurements and fit before cutting the “good” wood.

A rocker with the top profile cut out and the leg holes drilled. I draw the rocker in the exact same position on the blank each time. I can then drill the hole more accurately.

Drilling the Leg Holes

Having established the axis of the leg holes, I now determine the angle of the leg holes in relation to the bottom of the blank.

The front leg hole is drilled in a prepared blank. I previously planed the landing point smooth and true with a smooting plane.

Four rockers drilled and ready for some smoothing.

Smoothing the Rocker

Even with a fine blade, the bandsaw leaves marks that require smoothing. Sanding the marks is not the most effective method.

A freshly honed smoothing plane removes saw marks and trues up an outside curve at the same time.

A spoke shave works well inside the curve when a smoothing plane won’t reach the wood. It’s usually best to work downhill to stay with the grain.

A situation where going slightly uphill acutally runs with the grain.

Further Shaping of the Rocker

There is further shaping that should be done to the rocker before assembly.

Moser adds a nice visual detail in the rocker by tapering it in the last foot or so of the rear of the rocker to 3/4” thickness. I cut this curve on the bandsaw

Moser uses a different joinery method for his rockers that allows the legs to contact the rocker at the splay angle of the legs. This allows his rocker to make full contact with the floor across its entire width. I turn full tenons on the leg and run them straight through the rocker at a 90 degree angle. This puts only the edge of the rocker in contact with the floor. I use a 1/2” round-over bit the keep the rocker from damaging the floor. Note: With the leg holes already drilled, the pilot bearing of the router will follow the leg hole and remove too much material. Skip this portion when routing the rocker and blend it in with a file.

Mark Out Cross Dowel

To speed assembly, pre-mark the hole for a cross dowel that will pin the lower leg tenon to the rocker. Also pre-cut the dowel and taper it at one end for easy entry.

The next step is to assemble the lower half of the rocking chair.

-- Mark, Minnesota

2 comments so far

View lysdexic's profile


5254 posts in 2618 days

#1 posted 12-29-2012 03:38 AM

Mark, I have never done a full scale drawings. I’d really like to hear more about that and maybe see a picture. What kind of paper did you use? Do you ever use sketch up?

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

View DustyMark's profile


346 posts in 2065 days

#2 posted 12-29-2012 05:38 AM


I only drew the actual lower rocker part. I drew it directly onto a 2 X 6 prototype piece and then cut it out with the bandsaw. I like to use a flexible piece of wood or strip of Formica to draw fair curves. It’s incredibly effective. I’ve never used sketch up before. As picky as I can be, I’ll try things out on cheap wood and then roll with what looks best. I’m definitely not a draftsman or an artist…

-- Mark, Minnesota

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