Picture of Refinish an Antique Rocking Chair
If there’s one thing all 21st century wood-workers can claim, it’s remarkable good fortune. We have the tools to make the most tedious job effortless and the trickiest joint flawless—and anything from glue and lumber to paint and hardware is as close as the nearest home center or only a phone call away in a mail-order catalog. But most of all, we have our legacy of woodworking—hundreds of years of design and wooden construction from which to draw inspiration and on which to base our craft.

Sometimes, though, there’s a chance to do more than take from our past—we can give something back by rescuing a piece that’s seen better days. We got the opportunity to do just that when we discovered this old, neglected rocking chair. Even with broken joints and a ruined finish, the chair’s classic lines made it an irresistible candidate for restoration. Although the specific procedure we used to bring our rocker back to life might not match your restoration project, there’s a good chance many of the techniques will be relevant. 
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Step 1: Plan of Action

Picture of Plan of Action
Exposure to the elements had ruined many of the glue joints in our chair, but surprisingly, some were still sound. Two failed joints in the seat had left one of the seat boards hanging free, and most of the spindles were no longer securely held in their sockets. We decided to leave the solid seat and leg joints alone, but disassembled all the upper spindle joints.
cherriehub11 months ago

Hi, these is an amazing job, and I love the american walnut stain you have used on the chair, the finish looks really impressive! I agree that comparing to the furniture makers in 18th century any DIY job is like a walk in a park, sometimes I'm amazed at the treasures you find in the DIY stores, and it just makes you inspired. You can seemlessly repair an antique chair, if you do have got a knowledge and the right tools. I did come across this American Rocking Chair, which was made c. 1900, yet to my eye the panels in the seating and the back rest feature Art Nouveau design - which is an original design, and obviously they were added by someone later (early 1900s when Art Nouveau was in fashion). I think it looks amazing, and makes this rocking nursing chair a totally quirky and one in a kind item :)

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Tommy D1 year ago
I prefer a clear gloss poly-urethane for a top coat myself.
imbiglarry1 year ago
That is a beautiful chair. Also, I have a lamp that looks very similar!