Rocking Chair - Ash & Sapele

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Project by MJCD posted 11-21-2014 01:22 AM 1523 views 6 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is the second rocking chair I’ve built, with the first one being a ‘proof-of-concept’ piece – made from Pine & Douglas Fir. This one, the second, is from Ash and Sapele (Mahogany). The design is based on Hal Taylor’s work, and I’m a committed fan of his process and approach.

About 40 bd ft of 8/4 Ash, and some leftover 8/4 Sapele was used – due to the sculpted nature of the chair, much of the wood is cutaway (and can be used for other work, if squared-up). Ash is a beautiful wood to work – it mills clean, and finishes to a bone-smooth surface. The finish is Deft Lacquer Sanding Sealer (1 coat), with 3 coats of Deft Brushing Lacquer – I can highly recommed these two products.

The chair relies on extensive bandsaw work, with the need to change blades from 1/4” to 3/8” or 1/2” – the transition points between parts require tight radii, with long cuts required to rough-cut the major pieces. Significant Angle Grinding, with various cutters, is also required – it is amazing what you can do with practice and patience, and the appropriate cutters (carbide tipped, of course). Table Saw work is essentail from cove-cutting the arms, and ripping the laminations for Back Braces and Rails (the rockers, themselves). Hal Taylor rockers utilize the Maloof joint for the Legs-to-Seat transition, and Whiteside Router bits are recommended for these.

Methods of Work
There is a process – there are no straight edges and few flat planes on the finished chair; as such, it is important to work the rough wood in a sequence which utilized reference edges. Hal Taylor’s process does this very well, and I recommend his process for those who wish to undertake this – it is highly rewarding!

I have approximately 100 hours in this – I’m not fast, I’m not yet a confident woodworker (many of the tools and processes, such as the Angle Grinder (which scares the hell out of me) and the extensive and precise bandsawing are a significant change from my casework background). All-in-all, this is a great project – one that will provide generations of enjoyment.

I’ve been asked for additonal rockers from friends and family; and I expect to make probably 5 or 6 more – when I have the shop time.

Hal Taylor has an active Forum on Yahoo! – made-up of really nice people trying to advance their passion: many, like me, are new to rocking chairs, and the Forum has a great feel to it.

-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

10 comments so far

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674 posts in 1293 days

#1 posted 11-21-2014 01:25 AM

Beautiful work.

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woodshaver (Tony)

3938 posts in 2775 days

#2 posted 11-21-2014 02:09 AM

Fabulous work I must say. Hold your head up high and be proud you earned it. Now you can sit a spell and rest in it.
I bet you can’t stop looking at it! :)

-- Tony C UAW, St Augustine FL, My high school shop teacher said "You can do it"... Now I can't stop!

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41 posts in 1033 days

#3 posted 11-21-2014 03:21 AM


-- Rob, Ontario

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188 posts in 718 days

#4 posted 11-21-2014 06:39 AM

Stunning work. Someday I hope to tackle a project like that.

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369 posts in 1265 days

#5 posted 11-21-2014 03:40 PM

Nice work – great looking rocker.

-- Rod - Oregon

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611 posts in 809 days

#6 posted 11-22-2014 03:40 AM

Nice. I am adding this to my favorites. One of these days I may try one of these.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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10 posts in 1090 days

#7 posted 11-22-2014 03:04 PM

My first thought when I saw the images of your rocking chair was STUNNING!!! When I read the comments I saw that Waldo88 had used my adjective, but I can’t think of a better word to describe this chair. Congratulations on a beautiful piece you should be very proud!!

View MJCD's profile


483 posts in 1793 days

#8 posted 11-26-2014 02:54 AM

Many thanks for the kind comments – it’s a scary, very rewarding, labor of love. The amount of time that you have invested in each piece, as you further work it, makes the end result that much more of a personal smile. There are many details, and you have to enjoy the process of working wood; knowing that you’re working toward something this nice – my wife and daughter seem to que into sitting in it.

I should mention that it is very comfortable. I’m 6’6” and 240 lbs: this is rock solid, and I sit with a comfortable – well-supported back position. My wife will fall asleep in it.

So, I do recommend it on several fronts – the challenge, the craftmanship reward, the functional comfort. The cost is not inconsequential – about $200 in Ash, another $100 in supplies (Deft finishes, sanding paper, and a significant amount of glue).

If I can provide further details on the build or the chair itself (there are at least 3 different sizes (based on both height and seat width, for example) – please let me know.

Everyone, Do Take Care.

-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

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115177 posts in 2999 days

#9 posted 11-26-2014 03:04 AM

Looking good,very nice work.

-- Custom furniture

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1601 posts in 2362 days

#10 posted 11-29-2014 02:31 AM

Love it!

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

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