This rocking footstool is great when using a rocking chair or rocking/recliner. With your feet up on the rocker and a slight foot motion, you’ll appreciate the soothing rocking motion.
Step 1: Supplies and Equipment
Supplies: The design uses standard stock from local home stores.
- 1 piece 3 ½” x ¾” stock 6' long. The one shown is red oak. Edges will be routered/sanded, so some edge imperfection is ok.
- 1 piece 11 ¾” x 6” x ¾”. This serves as the covered footrest; it doesn't need to be pretty.
- 8 #10 1 ½” wood screws.
- 1 piece 12" x 6" x 1" high-density foam (usually green, sold in 18" squares at hobby/cloth stores).
- 2 pieces upholstery fabric: one 14” x 20" , one 7” x 13”.
- 1 pack (24 pieces) upholstery tacks. Available at local home/hobby/cloth stores.
- Sand paper (100, 150, 180, and 220 grits)
- Double stick tape.
Equipment: You can make do with other tools, read the instructions to see if what you have will work.
- Chop saw
- Band saw
- Drill press
- Power stapler
Step 2: Cut the Stock/Scrap Wood
- From the 6' length of 3½” x ¾” stock, cut two 14" pieces (legs), two 13" pieces (rockers), and one 12" piece (spreader).
- From the scrap piece: cut out a piece 11 ¾” x 6” x ¾”; the 11 ¾” may need to be reduced (see below).
Step 3: Draw the Rocker
On the 13" pieces:
- On a long edge (call it the bottom edge), measure/mark from one end 6½”, the middle of the rocker arc.
- From each bottom edge corner, measure/mark up ¾”; these are the rocker tips.
- Using a compass, string, or other means, draw an arc connecting these three points; radius is 2’ 4 9/16” perpendicular from the rocker arc center.
- On the top edge, measure/mark in from each corner 2 ¾" and 4 ¾". The 2 ¾” is the pivot point for drawing the neck arc; the 4 ¾” mark is the rocker neck outer edge.
- Set the compass to 2" radius, place the compass pivot at the 2¾” marks and draw arcs from the respective 4¾” marks down towards the bottom and out toward the nearest side to form the rocker neck.
- Set the compass to 1 5/8” radius; place the pivot point at each rocker tip and make a cross mark along the rocker arc. Place the compass pivot at this mark and draw an arc from the rocker tip towards the rocker neck until it intersects the neck arc. Don’t worry if the intersection isn't "ideal", sanding will smooth it.
- Turn each rocker piece on edge, neck up, and measure/mark ½” toward the center from each of the 4¾” marks (the neck edge). Use a square to mark across the edge at this point to form the outside edges of the mortise.
- Measure/mark in ¼” from each long edge and use a square to draw the two long sides of the mortise. The area of the mortise should be ¼” x 2 ½” in the center of the rocker neck.
Step 4: Draw the Leg
- On the 14” pieces, draw a centerline the length of one 3 ½” face.
- On this centerline from one end, measure/mark at 2”, 4 ½”, 6 ½”, 8”, and 12 9/16”. Use a square to draw perpendicular lines at the 2” and 12 9/16” marks. The 2” line will be the tenon shoulder, the 4 ½’ and 6 ½” marks are for screw holes for the spreader, the 8” mark is for marking the leg arc pivot point, and the 12 9/16” is for screw holes for the footrest and drawing the round top arc.
- From the centerline at 12 9/16” mark, measure/mark ¾” to each side for footrest screw holes.
- Set a compass to 1 7/16” radius, place the pivot at the 12 9/16” mark on the centerline and draw the arc for the top of the leg.
- From the centerline at the 8” mark, measure/mark 2’ 3/8” perpendicular from the center line on each side of the leg. Set a compass to 2’ 3/8” radius (or use a string) set the pivot at the point just made, draw arcs from each tenon shoulder corner to the corresponding intersection of the leg top arc.
- On the tenon end of the legs, measure/mark ¼” in from each long side and ½” from the short sides. Use a square to make these lines defining a tenon area ¼” x 2 ½”.
Step 5: Draw the Spreader
- Use the one 12” piece of 3 ½” x ¾” stock to draw the spreader, the piece that holds apart the legs.
- Mark the center on each of the long edges and from each measure/mark ½” perpendicular to the edge toward the center of the face of the board.
- Draw an arc, radius 3’ ¼”, connecting the two corners and this mark of each long side.
- On each end of the spreader, draw a centerline along the 3 ½” length.
- On this line, from each short edge, measure/mark a point ¾” toward the center. These will be screw holes connecting the spreader and legs.
Step 6: Cut the Spreader
- Cut out the spreader using a band saw, jig saw, or router as you have available.
- Pre-drill screw holes at the marks on each spreader end using a 1/8” bit.
Step 7: Cut the Leg
- Cut the tenons. One method is:
- On a table saw, set the fence to cut up to the 2” line leg mark, ensure blade and fence are parallel.
- Raise the blade to ¼” and make the first cut at the 2” line using a sliding miter fence with the board flat and the foot of the leg against fence.
- Remove additional material by moving the board away from the fence at blade width intervals and passing over the blade again until all the waste is gone.
- Flip the board over and do the same to the other side.
- Repeat this with the other leg before doing the edges (eliminates resetting blade height).
- Raise the blade to ½”, put one leg on edge with the foot at the fence and repeat the process.
- Flip to the other edge and repeat, then repeat with the other leg.
- The tenons will likely need cleanup with a chisel, but wait and test fit with the mortise.
- Note: If no band saw, a jigsaw will work. Skip taping, cut separately, then tape and carefully marry them.
- NOTE: Be careful not to round off the tenon shoulder edge; it needs squarely match the rocker neck.
Step 8: Cut the Rocker Mortise
- Use the drawn outline to cut a mortise 2” deep into the rocker neck.
- Most folks don’t have a mortise tool. Two other methods are:
- Use a drill press with ¼” Forstner bit set to 2” depth to eliminate most of the waste drilling holes side-by-side. Sandwich the rocker between 2x4’s/other sturdy scrap clamped to a drill press table with another clamp holding the sandwich together works well and allows sliding the work piece for each additional hole by releasing the one clamp. Cleanup with a chisel.
- If talented with chisels, cut the whole mortise with chisels (search You Tube for how to do this).
Step 9: Cut the Rockers
- To ensure symmetry of the pieces, again use double-sided tape to carefully marry the rocker pieces.
- Use a band saw to cut out the rockers, following just outside your drawing.
- Note: If no band saw, use a jigsaw, skip taping together; cut them out, then apply tape and marry together.
- With the two rockers cut out and taped together, sand the sawn edges to refine shape, eliminate saw marks, and prep for routing.
- Note: Avoid sanding the neck edge, it needs to meet the leg squarely.
- Note: If all you have is a drill-drum sanding attachment, clamping the drill to a solid work surface and use hold the work piece.
Step 10: Leg-Rocker Fit and Assembly
- Dry fit the legs and rockers ensuring right/left/front markings match. The joint needs to be snug, tenon shoulder sitting squarely on the mortise neck. Small under-/over-hangs can be smoother with sanding. Use a chisel to adjust fit as needed. If the tenon is too long adjust with a chisel or saw as needed.
- When satisfied, apply glue to the mortise with a brush and a very light coat of glue to the tenon. This minimizes squeeze out at the joint. Join and clamp them. Wait a couple minutes and remove any excess glue with a damp rag. Leave clamped overnight. Build the foot rest while you’re waiting (see next step).
- Check again for glue squeeze out and remove.
- Use a router with a ¼” round-over bit on all leg/rocker edges and the curved edges of the spreader, be careful not to router the spreader ends.
- Sand the leg/rockers and spreader, progressing from 100 to 220 grits, keeping track of exterior/front orientation. Machine sanding works for the flat sides, but curves and edges require hand sanding with a flexible sponge or moldable block backer. Refine the curves and attachment points. Don’t skip grits as stain and finish will show every mark and scrape. Again, ensure you don’t round off the spreader end edges.
Step 11: Build the Footrest
- Note: Fabric used will impact the width of this board. Thicker fabrics require more and thicker folds along the edge, which require a narrower board and possibly longer screws.
- On the 11 3/4" x 6" x 3/4" piece, mark a centerline along the long axis of each end and the center point of that line. From this center point, measure/mark ¾” toward each end. Pre-drill at these points with a 1/8” bit for the screws that will attach the rest to the legs.
- Router all edges with at least a 1/8” round over bit, or heavily sand them to avoid cutting into the fabric/foam over time.
- Cut the foam slightly larger than the large face of the board. Use fabric spray adhesive if needed to hold the foam in place while wrapping the fabric cover.
- On a clean work surface, place the larger of the two fabric pieces inside surface up, long edge running side-to-side.
- Place the foam/board in the middle of the fabric, long edge side-to-side, foam side on the fabric.
- Wrap the near side edge of the fabric up and around the foam/board leaving about 1 1/2” toward the center of the board.
- Staple along the edge about 1” in, starting in the center, working to the outside. Use enough staples to hold the tension of the fabric when the other side is done. Staples need to be flat; if don’t go in fully, replace or hammer in, but don’t cut through the fabric. Some fabrics may need to hemmed or doubled over to hold the tension.
- Repeat this process on the opposite side applying some tension so that the outer edges of the foam are rounded over.
- On each end, fold fabric from the wood side toward the foam side, then from the short side edge in, and lastly from the foam side to the wood side forming a “hospital” corner. Depending on your folds and fabric, you may need to cut away some material that wont show to avoid excess bulk. Staple the ends down as smoothly as possible at least 1” from the edge. Remember you have to get two screws through the layers and into the holes you drilled for them.
- Using the smaller piece of fabric, fold over the long edge about ½” and use decorative tacks pushed into the wood to hold it leaving about a 1/8” to ¼” reveal along the edge. Put a tack at the center and space them so to end with one in each corner, but don’t put the corner one in yet. Do the opposite side to this same point, all but the corner tack.
- Now, fold one end under such that the fabric edge cannot be seen. You may need to cut away some fabric to make this manageable. Put a tack in that corner, work your way to the other corner, spacing the tacks out.
- Repeat the process on the other end.
- Using a small nail or needle, locate and mark the screw holes on the end and penetrate a screw through. This will ease placement of the screws in final assembly.
Step 12: Assemble, Stain, and Finish
- If using button plugs for the screw holes, stain and finish is easily done.
- Stain all the pieces.
- Screw all the pieces together, except the foot rest.
- Apply finish to all the pieces, including the face of the button plugs.
- Attach the footrest.
- Glue in the button plugs.
- Stain all the pieces.
- Assemble the legs and spreader, but don’t tighten completely.
- Attach the footrest, then tighten all screws.
- Glue in the wood plugs, let dry, chisel off, and sand even with the surface.
- Apply stain to the plugs and surrounding area so that the stain looks even.
- Use painter’s tape to protect the fabric from the finish.
- Apply finish and let dry. The shown model has three coats of polyurethane