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Windsor Chair Rocker

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This project appeared in our February 4, 2006 Newsletter.

Windsor Chair Rocker

First off you are probably going to say "shouldn't the name of this project be a "Windsor Rocking Chair"? Well before you get too excited and let this project scare you away, we are only making the rockers for an existing chair. We had a swivel rocker that didn't fit well in our house so we gave it away but were left with nothing to rock on. Marilyn's sister Susie especially likes to rock when she comes to visit. We had a really nice Windsor chair that would fit the ticket perfectly if it only had rockers.

At first glance this looked like a pretty simple project but as you'll see there is quite a bit to it.

Here's what you'll need:

  • 2" X 4" X 8' spruce
  • 1/2" X 4" X 4' MDF
  • Stain
  • Varnish
  • (4) #6 X 1 1/2" flat head wood screws
The following tools were used on this project, click on any one of them to find out more.

T-Bevel Sliding Square
T-Bevel Sliding Square -
4'' Mini Tri-Square
Mini Tri Square -
Forstner Bit Sets
Forstner Bit Sets -
Pattern Flush Trim Router Bit
Pattern Flush Trim Router Bit
First a couple disclaimers. We used spruce because it matches the wood on the existing chair. The rockers are probably not as curved as you might like them. If you want a larger curve you'll have to get wider wood.

The very first thing to do is decide how long your rockers will be. Our rockers are 31" long.
Cut two set up pieces from scrap wood. I would not suggest starting out with your finish pieces. Make sample pieces first and the move on to the real thing.
Another thing you might notice about my rockers is that they taper on the ends. This allowed me to make them out of a 2" X 4" and still work. I sort of like the look but a typical rocker would be full width that whole length.
The rocker bottom radius on mine is 50" and the top radius is 73". If you were making a rocker with the same with the full length than you'd use the same center of the radius and just reduce it by the thickness of the rocker.
To mark the radius I used my kitchen floor and a string. Tile floor makes a nice grid when you are laying out a large radius

String Compas

It's best if you can find a string that doesn't have too much stretch. Hold the string steady and lay out your lines.
Cut as close to the lines as possible, remember this is on a scrap piece of wood.
Place the chair on top of the rockers to get a feel for where they should sit. Mark the centers of the back legs making them about 1/8" closer to the inside edge. This will allow for the angle you'll need to drill to accommodate the legs.
Set the angle of the legs in relationship to the top of the rocker using a T-Bevel Sliding Square:

Align Leg

Mark a line on the side of the rocker in line with the leg.
Now clamp the leg so that the mark on the side is perpendicular to your work bench. Use a small square to align it.

Clamp Leg

Now use the T-Bevel Sliding Square to align the drill and using a Forstner bit drill a hole to accommodate the chair leg.

Align Drill

You will be drilling in two directions. Be careful to start the bit into the wood a little bit before you crank in your angles.
Start out drilling the back leg holes about 3/4" deep on both rockers.
Set the chair on the rockers with the back legs in the holes and mark the front legs the same way as we did the back ones.
You can mark them in the center because they will not be drilled as deep.
Drill the front holes about 1/4" deep and try the chair on the rockers. Look for flatness of the seat, it should sit slightly lower in the back than the front. If it doesn't then you'll need to drill the back leg holes deeper.
Once you have everything worked out it's time to make the real rockers.
Using a piece of 1/2" MDF, make a pattern for the rockers.
Trace the pattern onto the real pieces of wood you are going to use.
Cut the rockers out staying about 1/8" outside the line.

Cut Out Rockers

Apply double back tape on the MDF pattern.

Bouble Back Tape

Attach the pattern to the rocker and run it against a bottom bearing flush trim bit. You will have to make two passes unless you have a really long bit and powerful router.


Since the grain on the wood will be going the wrong way for your router you will need to CAREFULLY do shallow "climb cuts" to prevent tear out. This means to go with the rotation of the router instead of against it like you are supposed to. Make shallow cuts and hold onto the wood really good and you should do OK. This is not a recommended way to run you router and I take no responsibility for any issues you may have doing a climb cut. The good news is it sure beats the alternative.

Tear out

If your bit is not long enough make your first pass, remove the MDF and make a second pass.
Drill you leg holes as defined above.
Drill a counter sink hole on the bottom side center of each hole for a #6 flat head screw.
Double back tape a piece of 150 grit sandpaper to a very thin (1/8") piece of wood as wide as you rocker is.
Sand both sides of the rocker.


Sand the sides smooth and you should be ready for finishing. Our picture at the beginning of this project does not have the rockers finished. I wanted them to stand out so you can see them. Once the finish is applied screw the rockers on to the legs, sit back and enjoy! I did not glue the rockers onto the chair because I may want to remove them some day.

That's about it. We hope you liked this project. If you build it and your friends ask where you got such a clever idea, please tell them that you got it at

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