custom wooden rocking chair blog

Custom wooden rocking chair design & build blog

Please have a look at what were up to, if you have any questions or comments please post! If you want any specific pictures taken please let us know.

Bespoke Walnut Dining Table & Chairs

This client found my website through searching the word BESPOKE. Although this word is not used very much on this side of the pond, we now live in a world wide society where anyone from anywhere can search their local terms.

Bespoke is an adjective for anything commissioned to a particular specification. "Custom-made", "made to order", "made to measure" and sometimes "hand-made" are near-synonyms. Taken from Wikepedia.

The grain on the Walnut table top is beautiful! I love the contrast of the Birdseye Maple and Walnut.

Walnut dining room table and chair set, hand sculpted.

View from the back featuring flowing faire curves & a sculpted crest rail into the legs.

This shows the re-enforcement of the long grain to short grain joint at the crest rail. Hidden behind the 3 ebony plugs of each side are 3 4’’ stainless steel hardened screws.

Grain orentation is very important in the crest rail. These custom dining chairs feature band saw cut grain matched Birdseye Maple.

This shows the leg joinery on the dining table. This is was is called a Maloof joint named after it’s creator Sam Maloof. The joint reveals everything the tongue & grove which is re-enforced with 2 4’’ screws which are plugged with Ebony.

Build your own rocking chair class is in session!

In this post you can follow along as Bill builds his own beautiful handmade one of a kind heirloom solid wood rocking chair. I try to take as many pictures as I can along the way as I teach my course. The course is offered as a 6 or 10 day, which is taught one on one. I build my own chair as you tail behind me building your own chair. Enjoy! This blog post will give you a glance into the sculpted rocking chair build process.

Start off by watching us work in timelapse!

At the start we’re moving the big boards around deciding on where to layout our templates to best achieve beautiful grain lines. The boards are first fought cut to length using the radial arm saw, the old Sears Craftsman still gets the job done after all these years thanks for the saw grand pa

Once most of the blanks are fought cut we must smooth a face and a edge to create a 90 degree corner then we can mover on to the thickness planer. The machines which can give use a square corner is a jointer, in this case a 24’’ 3400lbs Robinson & Sons from 1951! This machine looks and sounds like an air craft carrier and it cuts like butter!

Bill has now made the 2 board seat, we use a pair of f clamps to help with alignment then apply extreme pressure with some 50 year old pipe clamps.

Using the table saw and a 6 degree jig Bill is able to machine a 6 degree angle to the inside face of the rear leg of his rocking chair. This will create the 6 degree splay to the rear legs.

This is the front leg assembly after the joinery has been completed but still not shaped. In this step an adder block is being glued to the back side of both legs, they bill be cut in half at an angle to create a front leg which has a similar splay as the rear legs and a very fair curve into the seat.

This is the beginning of the coopered headrests. They are created with 6 blanks which have an angle on the sides just how a barrel would be made. To clamp the block sections together we use a clamp called a pinch dog, they are a ancient technology used by Egyptians.

The seat has been rough sculpted with an angle grinder with a kutzall carbide wheel. Next the front edge will be rounded over into a smooth fair curve, which your legs will thank you for.

In this picture you can see various parts of the 2 chairs we’re fabricating. The remaining billets for the headrest our arms which have been shaped, bent laminated rockers and back braces.

With the bandsaw set at an angle were able to create a smooth flowing arm to rear leg joint.

Finally time for some sanding, here we will take the seat up to a polish!

This is my seat sanded to a polish!

Bill is still sanding but getting close, looks great!

Of course another shot of the beautiful timber from Nicaragua called Chocolate Tiger

Here Bill is drawing a few lines which will be cut on the bandsaw, once these cuts are completed the front legs will almost be done!

The rear legs are glued on, EXCITING!!!!!

Removing material from the underside of the arm adder block, this cuts down on time spent grinding wood away to give the arms a beautiful fair 

About time to glue on the font legs. A good way to end off the day!

Follow Rick build his own beautiful custom rocking chair

6 Day build your own rocking chair class with Fred

Another build your own rocking chair couse comes to an end, here you can see some pictures of the 6 days we spend in my shop. From picking the raw lumber to a beautiful custom rocking chair which needs some shaping and sanding. Always a great time with lot’s of work being put in each 10 hour day.

Here we begin by choosing our lumber, we start typically in the raw slab form. Most lumber is locally sourced through small saw mills & tree service companys. This is Canadian Black Walnut

After rough cutting to length the boards have to have some flat faces, with the jointer we can create a smooth face and edge at 90 degrees

The coopered headrest comes from a single piece which gets cut into smaller pieces then glued together but coopered like a barrel

Grinding the seat with a coarse Kutzall carbide shaping wheel

Giving the arms some shape with a tapered cove made on the table saw

Adding a tapered chamfer by hand using a kutzall sculpting wheel

Laying out the front legs

Rocking chair legs being traced from templates

Trimming headrest to size on the table saw

The headrest was cut and glued together coopered like a barrel to allow use to have a deep sweeping curve, now we can cut out the final sized headrest

Follow the lines carefully!

We’ve made some progress on our custom rocking chairs!

Here we are adding the “stacks” which will give use the fair smooth transitions from the rocker to the legs

Trimming the coopered headrest to fit between the rears legs

Easy does it, very close now maybe a little more still to trim

Pre drilling holes in the rocker to attache to the legs, Fred was impressed my the built in light in the drill press. 

This is a 1 on 1 course where I build a chair while I describe and do what we need to do at each step then you proceed to do the same. This time around Fred beat me to to this step…… The first sit! Finally after about 50 hours of work we get to sit in our chairs for the first time. My rocking chair is on the left, Fred is enjoying his.

A Job well done! This was my 6 day build your own rocking chair course. You will leave with a beautiful rocking chair that needs all the sanding and some shaping. 

10 day build your own rocking chair class - graduation day!

Here greg is trimming his coopered headrest at a 6 degree angle to fit in between the rear legs

Test fitting the coopered headrests 

The headrests are now trimmed to length and the top and bottom curves have been cut

Beautiful unique one of a kind wedge rocking chair seat wrapped in curly maple

Sculpting the seat joints using an angle grinder & a kutzall solid carbide shaping wheel

Bent laminated rocking chair back braces or supports  made from curly maple, wedge, and quilted maple

This is me Paul Lemiski with my idea for a beautiful rocking chair wood combination built from Curly Maple and Wenge

Fitting the rocking chair headrest, after coopering, shaping and sanding.

It fits!

Sand sand sand! 

Still sanding, all my pieces are sanded from 120-150 grit all the way through to 1000 then burnished with a wool pad before the hand rubbed oil / varnish finish is applied.

90% of all sanding gets done on the chair before the rockers are attached to the legs

About to trim the rockers to flow into our leg bottoms

Rockers have been trimmed to flow with some nice fair curves into the leg bottoms, the top side then gets a round over before being attached to the chair

The seat is built from Quilted Maple wrapped in Canadian Black Walnut. The seat was created using multiple layers that have been glued together in the vacuum bag

The final details, here Greg is filling a small defect with 2 part epoxy coloured with black pigment

Getting very close now to being finished, just hours and hours of sanding left

Sanded to a polish!

The chair is now complete, the 3 part oil / poly finish has been wiped on, now we wait and wipe off in about 30 minutes

Done! We waited and wiped the finish off this allows the finish to soak into the wood and offer a slow building finish that is really easy to apply and maintain

The teacher Paul Lemiski & the student Greg…… Great job I must admit!

Always a big smile at the end but who am I kidding we had a big smile from picking up the first piece of raw lumber to loading the chair into Gregs truck, we had a great 10 days and we both built a beautiful rocking chair that will be around for generations. Congrats on the new addition to your family Greg, and i’m not talking about the chair. That is a smile of a soon to be dad! Way to go!

Canadian Woodworks   -   Custom wooden rocking chairs dining chairs bar stools and tables    -    Hand Made in Acton Ontario Canada
Paul Lemiski    -