can you help with rocking chair question

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Forum topic by diver posted 04-03-2009 05:28 PM 1110 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 2769 days

04-03-2009 05:28 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question rustic

Thanks, all, for your ‘welcome to LJ’ notes. I’m a beginning woodworker and am looking forward to seeing your projects and learning as much as I can from your experience.

I have a question to start out with: I’m building a rustic-style rocking chair for my sister’s 50th birthday, out of large yew sticks. For the ‘rocker’ pieces I though of using maple or oak lumber cut to the appropriate arc, and attached to the yew chairframe with tenons. Anything special I should know about those rocker pieces? the way the grain goes? A different material than maple or oak? Any other words of advice on such a project?


-- mb

8 replies so far

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


17577 posts in 3100 days

#1 posted 04-03-2009 10:52 PM

The grain definitely need to run length wise.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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18337 posts in 3076 days

#2 posted 04-04-2009 02:38 AM

I would think that you’d want to get long tight grained runners.

-- Gary D. Stoughton, WI

View Waldschrat's profile


505 posts in 2860 days

#3 posted 04-05-2009 08:39 PM

Yew? Hey send me some too! That stuff is awesome! ypu might want to consider using Maple because of simple design reasons, maple would look best with yew. Oak, probably not, the woods (yew and oak), in my opinion do not go together. as the others said, use straight grain. And grain that runs length wise. might consider doing a form glue up for the runners, so make a form and counter form and stack and glue up a number of 5mm or 1/4 inch or so strips into a curved form… usenormal white glue and works great and is very stabil.

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

View carlbigman's profile


17 posts in 2804 days

#4 posted 04-06-2009 11:33 AM

Hi All,

Always, in every piece, for every item you layout on wood, the long straw-like grain micro-structure should run along in the same direction as that particular parts’ longest dimension for strength, structural integrity, load-bearing, and durability. Never run the grain in the direction of your shorter dimensions as it is not favoring it’s optimal strength of the natural grain patterns. There are some exceptions, like if making a carving of a monk with outstretched praying hands, when running the grain along the monks body and torso the hands situated 90 degrees to the body might break off unless made of separate stock also with the grain running to favor and strengthen the monks’ outstretched hands. Then both body and hands will be at their optimal strength configurations when then glued together for superior durability and lasting integrity (as long as you use a good glue or epoxy!). Carl

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4 posts in 2769 days

#5 posted 04-06-2009 04:14 PM

To all who responded: thanks! And especially Nicholas—what a great idea to laminate maple strips. That’ll be much stronger than a single piece of lumber. I never would have thought of it on my own. For a large-ish chair, the runners should be about 4 feet in length, don’t you think?

The yew is very interesting: the sapwood isn’t much to look at, but the heartwood is gorgeous. And the bark is beautiful too. I limbed-up some really old yew shrubs at a friend’s house and harvested some branches about 2.5-3” caliper. It’s a real challenge to use since it’s very twisted and curvy and rather brittle. I’m bracing and cross-bracing like crazy since I don’t want anyone who sits in the chair to end up in a heap of sticks on the floor!

-- mb

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505 posts in 2860 days

#6 posted 04-06-2009 04:36 PM

You are certanly welcome! I like to help where I can!

Yeah, I think 4 foot sounds good, should work, I must admitt though I am no expert in making rocking chair runners and but have more expierence in runners for sleds! (sleds have to hold up to some punishment too!)

Sounds like a neat project, you should post it when its done. Perhaps make pics and a blog on it while its being built.

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1081 posts in 2820 days

#7 posted 04-06-2009 04:48 PM

I have a large piece of cherry in storage from which I intend to cut rocker pieces. It has tight, sweeping curves in it due to unusual growing conditions. The rockers will have long grain following the curves all the way.
If you can find something like this you won’t need to laminate strips.


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View RBWoodworker's profile


432 posts in 2776 days

#8 posted 04-10-2009 01:01 AM

When I make my rockers..I cut and glue up 7 strips 1/2” wide by 1/8th in thickness to allow for easier bending. I have a form that I made that’s about 4”thick curved the shape I want the rockers to take plus a little more to allow for springback the form has 2” cross slats attached to the bottom to keep the rocker slats from slipping off the form itself..springback is not alot..but it does do it..I glue up using tightbond 2 yellow glue and use about 12 clamps. I apply the glue liberally to both sides of the slats with the exception of the top and bottom slat for obvious reasons.. and I let it sit, clamped in the form for about 2 or 3 days. the form also has plastic laminate on it because the glue will not stick to it and allows the glued up rocker to be removed from the form. you can use tape if you don’t have any laminate to line the form with

-- Randall Child

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