Grandpy's Rocking Chair




If you've read any of my other instructables you'll know that they all have a story, and that's what I would like to emphasize in the "ible". With the help of some pictures I would like to tell you a story that is very near to my heart. The story of my Grandfathers rocking chair.

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Step 1: My Solution

My solution to not having the right size lumber was quite simple. Instead of going out and spending and absurd amount of money on 2 inch thick hardwood, I decided to scale down the chair, make a miniature version of the original.

My first step was to take the full size templates and copy them to a large piece of paper. From that I took a photo and uploaded it to my computer. I then used Illustrator to map each piece. This gave the CNC cutter that I have access to at work a file to cut from.

And that's pretty much where things got harder for me.

Some parts worked fine others were modified slightly and some were completely made by hand, whatever it took to make things look right with the size.

Step 2: Things Are Starting to Come Together

Although very slow things did start to come together. With hand cut mortises and half lap joints I learned that maple is a very hard wood!

In the pictures you may notice that there are some bent piece. for me that was accomplished by soaking the part in boiling water until it was soft enough to squeeze between a simple jig that had a slightly greater curve than what I was trying to achieve.

Step 3: The Chair That Started It All

This is the chair that I grew up with. And one of a hand full of rocking chairs that my grandfather built over the years. A WWII vet my Grandpy is a man that I look up to with a great deal of pride and between him and my father I have them to thank for my passion for not just woodworking but for working with my hands, and making something that I can be proud of.

So like I said I grew up with this chair and suppose my Grandfather did too in a way. That's because the original chair that he made patterns from was his mothers chair. As I got older and I started to poke my nose into woodworking my desire to build one myself got stronger.

I was very fortunate to acquire and large amount of dried maple, however the pieces were short and only about 1x4 and still needed to surfaced with the jointer and planer. So whats a fella to do...

Step 4: Well I've Almost Got a Chair

Although it took me almost 2 years I finally had something that looked like a Chair. You may be wondering why it took so long. Well I'm not too proud to say that it almost defeated me a couple of times and because of that there were extended breaks and time taken to work on other projects.

Step 5: Finishing

I wanted an easy to apply finish that would really bring out the natural beauty of the Maple. I found that in Danish Oil.

It was the first time I has used it and I would definitely use it again and recommend it to anyone.

Step 6: Caning the Seat and Back

As you've seen in the very first picture the seat and the back are completed with a process called caning and in this case strand cane via the 7 step method. I'm thinking it took me about 16 hours.

Other than posting the pictures of each step I'm not going to explain how this is done. This is a great video if you're interested.

Part of why I want to do this project was to learn how to cane a chair, and even more than that I wanted my Grandfather to be the one that showed me. An interesting part of this story is the caning. In my mind it is becoming a bit of a lost art. My Grandfather was taught to cane by his sister-in-law who in turn was shown how by a blind man. And after finishing I have no idea how he did it!

Step 7: The Finished Product

So here it is the Completed project!

Some of the pictures feature one of the full size chairs as a size comparison.

I hope you've enjoyed my story and that maybe it has inspired you to make something.

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    9 Discussions


    1 year ago


    I was wondering if I could get or buy plans or templates for Granpy's Rocking Chair?


    Steve Hamilton

    3 replies
    Wood Crowstevehamilton

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hi Steve, there is a illustrator file in the comments below. It is the template for most of the pieces. I wish I could give you something better but this is all I have.

    stevehamiltonWood Crow

    Reply 1 year ago


    Sorry to bother you again but when I click on the illustrator files an open hand(I assume a not available or stop indication) appears on the screen. Am I doing something wrong or is the attachment not there or unavailable?

    Thanks Much

    Steve Hamilton


    Reply 1 year ago

    Hi Again

    My email is Thanks in advance for trying to get the info to me. I will send a pic whenever I get it done.

    Thanks again

    Steve H


    4 years ago on Step 4


    I'm wondering if you have made up a drawing plan to scale measurement such as 1:1 or 1:5 etc so that I could download? This chair looks challenging to build and interesting too. Thanks.



    4 years ago on Introduction

    Very inspiring work! The finished chair looks gorgeous.

    And I love the story behind it too. Excellent project, all around!