Picture of 20KRKR
Every year, the Rural Studio, a program of Auburn University's architecture school, located in Hale County, Alabama, pursues a research project called the 20K House.  We build a house on a budget of $20,000 that can be a sustainable, safe, spacious, dignified replacement for the mobile home. Each prototype is then documented and will hopefully become a model that can be replicated across the rural south for low-income homeowners.  20K 9.0 can be seen in pictures here:  Learn more about the work of the Studio in general at

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:

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:

You will need these tools:
Table Saw
Compound miter saw/ chop saw
Drill press
Power Sander
Hole Saw
Assorted drill bits
Rags/paint brushes
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
Wood glue

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.
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mukena9 days ago

Awesome, lovely chair <3

I love the projects you do.
Oldbear3 years ago
The chair is great - but the work you do building homes is by far better. You got our family crying... May God bless the work you're doing to help lift someone up.
This really is a very good project, well documented and throughly explained.
schkip19734 years ago
cool concept! for the chair though does it cost less than ikea?
wlai schkip19734 years ago
Price check in aisle 9! Seriously though, for me this is a cool reuse/repurpose project that has merits and values beyond just cost.
It will probably last longer than an Ikea rocker, and you"ll know exactly how to fix it if it does break, unlike the Ikea that will probably disintegrate within a year and be largely unrepairable...
tryb014 years ago
I really like this design & the fact you are re-using materials most consumers would call "trash" adds a very cool spiritual dimension.
My only suggestion would be to consider cover the threaded rods with some tubing to prevent them from rusting & cover the rough texture that will grab dirt, spider webs, etc. over time. You might use small diameter rubber, pvc, or even metal tubing. Old copper would look cool too!
Thanks for sharing this project.
brazell4 years ago
War 'Damn" Eagle! This is what I love best about Auburn! We do way more work in the community than that "other" school in Alabama. My Dad lives in Hale County and we get to see your past projects all the time. Keep it up! Akron, Moundville, and the surrounding communities really appreciate your time and effort!
rimar20004 years ago
Great work, congratulations!
hassi4 years ago
Great Ible on a great idea... BTW: I've followed Auburn's Rural Studio Program for the past couple of years. Kudos, hat's off, salutations and exaltations to the entire Department for making such a worthwhile endeavor. This is proof that education is the way out of the darkness. Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!
msjarmer4 years ago
I really like the chair and use of scrap wood. But speaking of safety you should use a push block or stick when ripping boards.
blkhawk4 years ago
Kudos! I am glad to know how you are helping your community. The best asset that we have is our brain. By devising ways to build cheaper and efficiently not only you benefit your community but also the rest of the world. Great job!
very nice. thanks for being of service to your community as well as to us! :)
dmatranga4 years ago
very cool idea, i might have to try this one. thanks for contributing!
Pankake4 years ago
Nice instructable and war eagle!
whoathor4 years ago
Maybe this could also be turned into a bench rocker with three rockers instead of two. That way two could rock in rhythm.
topflitejr14 years ago
Reminds me of the story I heard that Henry Ford would use the wood that the motors came crated in, to make the seats in the Model T's.
Verga4 years ago
Ezxcelent idea and great job on the instructable. I have built quite a few rocking horses and one that that is very important is that the rockers be identical. What I do is stack them together them on top of each other and use drywall screws to hold together. I then trace the pattern using a template and cut them out just over size using the bandsaw. I make sure that my disc sander is square tot he table and sand to final size. I test the "rocker" by setting them on a solid surface and setting it in motion. Once it is a smooth motion, I hit it with my Random orbital sandra to take out the swirl marks, mark any adition lay out lines and only then do i take them apart.
siedpe134 years ago
our technology department in our highschool does this thing called for the other 90%, in which 90% of the world only lives on a few dollars so many students have designed water pumps in addition to a cheap 500 sleeping environment and an electrical genrator. i just thought it was cool to see something else like what we do.
randofo4 years ago
I really like the angles you have going on this chair. It looks more comfortable than the chair I am currently sitting in :-)