Shaker Rocking Chair

The Shaker rocker shown below shares many features and building techniques with the Enfield side chair. For example, the crest rail mortises in the rear legs are routed (page 28) before the legs are turned and bent. (In this chair, the rear legs are bent from the arms to the top, instead of being canted back, as on the Enfield.) The mortises for the back stretchers, rail, and slats are then bored with an electric drill (page 32); the mortises must be angled 2° to compensate for the outward splay of the legs from the bottom to the top.

Drilling the mortises in the legs for the other stretchers and rails is simpler because there are no holes at compound angles. The mortises for the front rails and stretchers are 90° holes that can be bored on the drill press (page 31). The mortises for the side rails and stretchers can be bored with a drill and shop-made drilling guides (page 33); adjust the "TOP" guide to the appropriate angle, and set up the "SIDE" guide at 90°.

The following pages present techniques that are unique to building a Shaker rocker, including bending the rear legs (page 40), and making the arms and rockers (page 41 ).

Shaker Furniture

Leg to

rocker

X joint

0 \\

Shaker Rocking Chair Rails

As shown in the overhead view of the rocking chair (left, top), the front of the seat is wider than the back and the tops of the rear legs are farther apart at the top than the bottom. As a result, the rails and slats are progressively longer from the bottom to the top of the chair. Like the rear legs, the slats are steam-bent for comfort. The front legs are parallel so the front rails and stretchers all share the same length.

As shown in the side view (left, bottom), the side rails and stretchers are perpendicular to the legs in the vertical axis. A comfortable angle is achieved by bending the rear legs, rather than inclining them. For balance, the rockers contact the ground 2 to 3 inches in front of the rear legs. The illustrations and cutting list provide appropriate dimensions and angles that you can transfer to your story pole (page 28).

ITEM

QTY

L

W OR DIAM. TH

Legs

front*

2

2214

114

rear

2

4114

114

Seat rails*

front

1

22

1

back

1

1714

1

side

2

1814

1

Stretchers*

front

2

22

3/4

back

1

17

%

side

4

1814

%

Arms

2

19

314 3/s

Rockers

2

31

5 3/8

Slats*

top

1

18

3A

bottom

1

1714

3A

Crest rail

1

1814

3 y4

"Notes: Dimensions include tenon lengths.

"Notes: Dimensions include tenon lengths.

Built in Hancock Shaker Village, the rocker shown above features a woven-splint seat. The Shakers made this seating from wood, which they soaked in water for several weeks, then split into long strips and wove around the seat rails.

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