Building a Thos. Moser Design New Gloucester Rocking Chair #13: Shaping the Rocker/Leg Joint

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Blog entry by DustyMark posted 12-29-2012 05:45 PM 4975 reads 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 12: Flushing the Seat Tenon Part 13 of Building a Thos. Moser Design New Gloucester Rocking Chair series Part 14: Evaluating the Prototype Top Crest »

The joints where each leg meets the rocker need shaping to transition from a rectangular rocker to a round leg. I designed the rocker with built-up areas where each leg enters. This provided a means to make a more graceful transition.

Shaping Tools

I use two tools to shape this joint by hand. The Nicholson #49 Patternmaker’s rasp and a fishtail gouge worked great for this task. The gouge worked well to remove wood close the leg and also for initial large removal of wood. The rasp worked well to round over the edges in the transitions.

I’ve owened this rasp for over 26 years. I read a blog post that the Nicholson rasps went down in quality when they moved production to Brazil. This old model has served me well for decades. Note the aggressive tooth pattern. This is called a second-cut rasp and leaves quite a smooth surface, yet removes wood quickly.

Big Picture

Transitions from the legs down into the rocker. Gradual curves are pleasing to the eye.

View from another angle.

Front Leg

Outside view of the front leg. I plan to keep square edges on the top of the rocker. The seat has square edges at the top and the top crest will also have square edges. This will tie in all of the elements. The edges transiton smoothly from round to square.

Inside view of the front leg.

Forward view of the front leg. The lower, inside edge of the rocker is profiled with a 1/2” roundover bit over its entire length. I routed the first inch or so of the lower outside edge of the rocker with the same bit and then transitioned the edge to square with the rasp. This keeps the rocker from having an unbalanced look with a rounded edge on one side and a square edge on the other.

Rear Leg

The rear leg has a similar transition to the front leg. Another consideration is the taper at the rear of the rocker. The top of the rocker, aft of the rear leg, is rounded instead of squared.

I still need to plug the screw holes in the leg braces. Note: When driving the plug into the forward portion of the brace, clamp the sides of the brace to keep the plug from blowing out the sides of the brace. (I learned this the hard way on a previous project!) The walls of the brace adjacent to the screw holes in the mortise are supported by the mortise.

View of the rear rocker taper.

Minor clean-up work remains over the entire lower assembly, but I’m most of the way there.

Next, I need to re-turn the 14 back spindles that I messed up earlier…

-- Mark, Minnesota

7 comments so far

View lysdexic's profile


5256 posts in 2824 days

#1 posted 12-29-2012 10:25 PM

I am no rasp expert but I understand the main objection to modern rasps is that they are machine stitched. This results in “burrs” that aligned in rows and leaves behind a rough surface. Hand stitched rasps have an irregular pattern, like the picture above, and this leaves a smooth surface.

Hand stitched rasps are available from Auriou of France. I recently bought one from Lie Nielsen.

Great blog.

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

View DustyMark's profile


347 posts in 2272 days

#2 posted 12-30-2012 12:01 AM

The site I ran across mentioned the rasps as a modern alternative to the Nicholson #49. Here’s a link to that site. Here’s a link to the blog that talks about the decrease in Nicholson quality. I think that I’ll buy an Auriou riffler to try out on the second rocking chair. It would be great for shaping the transition joint from the leg to the rocker.

-- Mark, Minnesota

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3779 days

#3 posted 12-30-2012 12:10 AM

It’s coming along beautifully .

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View DustyMark's profile


347 posts in 2272 days

#4 posted 12-30-2012 12:25 AM


Thanks. I like the way the lines flow with the rocker and the brace.

I’m pausing the second rocking chair prior to assembling the lower part. I’ll finish the first rocking chair and confirm final fit and comfort before beginning assembly of the second chair. I could still adjust the front leg height and/or redesign the rocker without experiencing too much of a setback on the second chair.

-- Mark, Minnesota

View stefang's profile


16133 posts in 3536 days

#5 posted 12-31-2012 04:15 PM

The profile of the chair is fantastic and the transition work came out real good too. I can understand now why you like this style of chair so much. I have a small Auriou rasp and they are very good, but very expensive too. I guess the price doesn’t matter when the quality and longevity are good.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View DustyMark's profile


347 posts in 2272 days

#6 posted 12-31-2012 04:53 PM


I’m struggling over whether to buy the Chris Pye set of two Auriou rasps. The fact is, I got the transitions shaped without them, so I don’t “need” them. However, I may buy them anyway!

-- Mark, Minnesota

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 2740 days

#7 posted 12-31-2012 05:33 PM

Coming along nicely.

-- I never finish anyth

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