Introduction: MSPF Rock Rock Around the Block

A great way to sit down, while having fun.

Step 1: Design the Rocker

I've always loved the movement of a rocking chair. The gentle back and forth motions soothed me, and made me feel relaxed and calm. While thinking of a public experience with the rocking chair, I wanted to create something intimate for two people. A moving sculpture where as one person moved, it influenced the motion of the person facing them. After many iterations, the idea of a double rocker took form. It's made up of two oval frames, with seats growing organically out of them.

Step 2: Create a Small-scale Mockup

Take the computer files, and create a small model out of an inexpensive material. I went to Techshop San Francisco, where I created a scale model in 1/8" corrugated cardboard to test what the object looks like in space. I was pleased with the curvature of the armrests and the overall look. Often, I make revisions in this stage and get the last details perfect before moving on to create the full-size prototype.

Step 3: Create Full-Size Prototype

Tons of makerspaces around the country offer access to a CNC Router. It's a simple machine that generates code from a 3D drawing, and creates cut pathways into your large sheet material. There's tons of online material on using the CNC and I would recommend checking out a few tutorials. When used in combination with traditional methods of building and woodworking, the results are spectacular.

I had access to a Shopbot Alpha at Techshop San Francisco. There are many Techshop (makerspace) shops around the country, and there could be one close to your city. Alternatively, you can look up local people who do fabrication work by checking out the website:

I took my completed digital file, and using a combination of Rhino and Fusion 360, I created profile toolpaths for cutting my shapes. I used 5 sheets of 4'x8' 3/4" plywood to create the outlines of the Rocker Chair. I then used the remaining scraps to cut out 28 slats on the table saw, which became crossbeams for the sculpture.

Step 4: Sand, Glue, Screw

After the shapes come off the CNC Shopbot, file or sand down the raw edges with 150 grit sandpaper.

Then, attach the three layers of the base shape to create a thick base for the seats.

Step 5: Route, Tape, Paint

After the base is completely dry, take a 3/8" roundover router bit, and insert into a hand router. Route all the exposed straight edges of the shape. Sand lightly after with 150 grit sandpaper on an orbital sander to get the last surfaces smooth.

Take the time to use blue tape to mask all the surfaces. This took about 8 hours, but the result is worth it. Patience is key here..I recommend going slowly with the curve and listening to good music. After all the edges are masked off with blue tape, use a bristle brush and apply two coats of semigloss blue paint over the edges. Dry overnight and lift the tape.

Step 6: (Optional) Sew Pillows

We decided to add some padding for the back, and made custom foam pillows that fit the curve of the back seat. The dimensions for the foam I used is 18" x 20". I then cut a piece of taupe canvas to go over the shape, and sewed all but one seam with a sewing machine. I sewed the last seam by hand. You can easily make your own pillow any size you want, and there are many for purchase as well at Orchard Supply Hardware, Ikea, or Target.

Step 7: Assemble Creation

Working with a partner, start with the two oval frames. While one person holds the frame, the other inserts the slats. Start with two slats on the back, and two on the seats. Adjust the frames so that they are perfectly lined up (skewing may occur. If this happens, take out the slats and reattach again). Then attach all of the 28 slats around the frame.

The last touch to bring into the creation before unleashing it into the streets, is a bubble machine. I bought mine at Party City, and it's a portable battery-powered bubble machine. Using store bought bubble soap, or making your own recipe, fill the machine with the soap liquid. Turn on and put to the side while enjoying your creation.

Step 8: Rock Rock, Around the Block

Lastly, turn on some of your favorite tunes, sit back, meet a stranger or encourage people to try sitting in it. Enjoy!