How to make a wooden rocking chair

Updated April 17, 2017

Rocking chairs originated in North America. The first traces appeared in the 18th century, when they were used in gardens. Contemporary rocking chairs are used as both indoor and outdoor pieces of furniture. The purpose of the rocking chair defines the type of wood used. Softwood suffices for indoor rocking chairs, with pine being a good nonexpensive option. For outdoor rocking chairs, hardwood is a better option, oak being a good choice since it’s weather resistant.

Cut two front legs with dimensions of 3 1/2 inches by 24 inches. The thickness of all parts should be 3/4 inches.

Cut 5 1/2-inch-long and 3/4-inch-deep notches at each leg with a jigsaw. Begin the notches 9 1/2 inches from legs’ bottoms.

Glue the front support (1 1/2 inches by 22 inches) to the notches. Allow time for the glue to set, and then screw in the front support to the notches with a screwdriver.

Make the two back legs with dimensions of 5 1/2 inches by 38 inches. Cut them with a jigsaw. Make a curved shape, according to your preferences. Keep in mind that the back support comes 17 feet from the chair’s front.

Sand the back legs with medium (80 to 120) grit sandpaper.

Glue the back legs to the front legs at a height of 15 inches, measured upward. Allow time for the glue to set, and then screw in the back legs with the screwdriver.

Make the seating slats (13 pieces, each 1 1/2 inches by 22 inches). Drill screw holes on each end. Screw in the slats to the back legs with the screwdriver.

Make the bottom back support. Cut a notch (see Step 1) at each end of a 3 1/2-inch by 33-inch wooden piece. Make the notches 3/4 inch deep and 2 inches high.

Glue 5 back slats (3 1/2 inches by 26 inches) onto the back support. They should overlap it by 1 1/2 inches. Allow time for the glue to dry, and then screw in the back slats with the screwdriver.

Construct another back support (see Step 7).

Glue and screw in the other back support onto the back slats at a height of 13 1/2 inches from the bottom to create the backrest.

Cut two 5 1/2-inch by 25-inch wooden pieces. These will become the armrests. Cut the desired shape with a jigsaw.

Sand the armrests with medium (80 to 120) grit sandpaper.

Screw in small wooden pieces to the armrests’ undersides with the screwdriver.

Screw in the backrest to the back legs. Use one screw for each notch on the back support.

Screw in the armrests to the upper side of the back support.

Glue 2 rockers (each has two 3 1/2-inch by 34-inch pieces) underneath the legs. The front curve should be a distance of 1 1/2 to 5 inches from the front. The back curve should be a distance of 4 to 9 inches from the back. Allow time for the glue to dry, and then screw in the rockers with the screwdriver (underneath).

Varnish the chair with a clean cloth. Add at least two coats of varnish if you plan to use the rocking chair outdoors.


Use marine varnish.


Always use protective gloves.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood
  • Jigsaw
  • Glue
  • Screwdriver
  • Screws
  • Drill
  • Sand paper
  • Varnish
  • Cloth
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About the Author

Jensen Johansson has been a freelance writer since 2006. He writes for various print and online publications, specializing in health and wellness, history, science and craft-related topics. Johansson holds Master of Science degrees in biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering, both from the University of Miami.