Knock It Off! Episodes

DIY Modern Rocking Chair

This comfy, modern rocking chair is surprisingly simple to build with the help of some power tools like a table saw. Here's how to transform a regular chair into a rocking chair with this easy DIY project.

  • one (1) 4x8 sheet MDF
  • one (1) 4x8 sheet plywood
  • wood glue
  • orbital or palm sander
  • several clamps
  • drill
  • jigsaw
  • table saw
  • thrifted upholstered chair with a rounded back
  • stain
  • chop saw
1. Figure out the arc of the rocking chair sleds. The length and curve will depend on the chair for which you're building the frame. Once you know how long and what arc you need, draw it onto the piece of MDF. Using the jigsaw cut the shape out. Do that 2 or 3 more times. This doesn't have to be perfectly finished (don't worry about sanding) because this is just the form for the sides. Glue the 3 layers of MDF together and let dry.

2. Set the table saw fence at 2.5 inches, so that the plywood strips will be uniform in size. Run the plywood through the table saw to create 6 or 7 strips. Cut them down to the proper length with the chop saw.

3. Using extreme care, gently bend one plywood strip over the MDF form and clamp into place at even increments. Mark where you placed the clamps. It definitely helps to have an extra set of hands for this process! Remove the clamps and run a generous line of wood glue along the top of the plywood strip. Place another plywood strip on top of the first and hold in place. Do the same with all of the pieces of plywood. Working quickly so that the glue doesn't dry, clamp all of the layers into place and let it sit a minimum of six hours, but preferably overnight.

4. For the rounded arms that wrap around the back of the chair, measure the width of the chair from outside arm to outside arm and the depth of the chair (front of chair to back of chair). Cut a piece of scrap wood for each measurement and screw together into the shape of a "T". This is the form for the plywood strips around the back.

5. Cut the same number of plywood strips at the same width as before and wrap them carefully around the form. Follow the same process of bending, gluing, stacking and clamping. Let dry overnight.

6. Attach the arms to the rocking chair sleds by four pieces of 2x2's. Remember to keep the front legs slightly longer than the back legs so that the chair sits at the proper angle. Again, these measurements will depend on the chair you're using. Then attach support pieces from the back legs to the front legs. This will hold the seat in place. Stain the frame and let dry.

7. Place the upholstered chair into the frame and screw into place from underneath.

Phew! You're done! This process has a lot of steps, but the result is totally worth it!
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