A key feature of our house this year was the front porch -- an important feature in southern homes in general -- and I wanted to round it out with a rocking chair for our client, MacArthur Coach. To make it part and parcel of the house itself, the materials were salvaged from the construction process, and the dimensions were customized to Mac. Much as the house itself is a modern take on the traditional southern vernacular, this chair is a contemporary rendition of the classic southern piece of furniture, the rocking chair.
The two "A" frames that comprise the rockers and arms are made from the pallet wood that the roof metal arrived on, which turned out to be nice hardwood -- I think it's poplar, but I'm not sure. Pallets are often made from hardwood because of the weight they must bear. The seat itself was made from leftover 2" x4"s, and the seating surface was made from the cardboard tubes that come at the center of the rolls of paper that we plot our drawings on. This way, the chair materially referenced both the house itself and the process by which it came to be. I have done another project with these tubes, which are very strong, and it can be seen here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Paper-or-Plastic-Table/.
While the design is fairly simple, you'll need some serious tools to make this chair. It took about twenty hours to build in my spare time with everything at hand. Given that the wood and tubes were salvaged, I only had to buy fasteners and finishes, which kept the price to about twenty bucks.
Check out this nice blog post from the good folks over at ReadyMade magazine: http://www.readymade.com/blog/design/2010/10/07/rock_this_way
You will need these tools:
Compound miter saw/ chop saw
Assorted drill bits
Sandpaper -- 100 and 220 grits
You will need these materials:
Several 3'-4' by 2" square pieces of pallet wood (approximate)
12' running feet of 2" x 4", in pieces no shorter than 2'
12-24 cardboard tubes, minimum wall thickness of 1/8"
4 1/2" dia. by 3' long threaded rods
12 1/2" nuts
12 1/2" lock washers
6 #10 by 2" machine bolts with associated nuts and washers
Much thanks to my teammates, Clem Blakemore and Pernilla Hagbert, and our teachers, Andrew Freear and Danny Wicke, as well as the whole faculty and staff of the Rural Studio, and our fellow students. Also thanks to Auburn University and Regions Bank, who funded this prototype.
Step 1: Millin'
I ended up with four pieces or so, two that were 1-1/4" by about 2-1/2", and two that were 1-1/4" square. These will make the side "A" frames.
For the sides of the chair piece itself, the "L", take four pieces of 2" x 4" that are about 2' long, raise the blade of the table saw, and cut them lengthwise, splitting them into two pieces each that are approximately 3/4" thick by 3-1/2" wide by 2' long. You may want to trim down that width, depending on the diameter of the cardboard tubes you end up with; my tubes had an outside diameter of 2-1/4", so I cut down the 2" x 4"s to 3" wide.
All dimensions in this project are suggestions. Adapt them as necessary to the specific wood you have on hand, the size of the person you are trying to accommodate, etc.