Lim­bert-style Rock­ing Chair

Arts & Crafts her­itage with to­day’s time-sav­ing join­ery


Rock the night away in an Arts & Crafts heir­loom you built your­self.

Mor­tise-and-tenon joints were es­sen­tial to Charles Lim­bert’s orig­i­nal rock­ers, but easy-to-cut float­ing tenons and our mor­tis­ing jigs will help you achieve equally rugged re­sults.

Start with the rock­ers

Each rocker (A) is made from 12 lay­ers (lam­i­na­tions) of 1∕8"-thick ma­te­rial glued in lay­ers around a bend­ing form. To work within the glue’s open time, you’ll glue them up in three stages, as we'll ex­plain in Step 3.

1 Cut 11 1∕2×8×42" MDF blanks for the rocker glue-up form. Mark and cut curves [Draw­ing 1, Photo A], and lam­i­nate the pieces. Sand the curve smooth, and cover the form top and sides with pack­ing tape.

2 Re­saw 24 3∕16×51∕2×42" oak strips and plane them to 1∕8" thick.

3 Glue up the first four lay­ers and clamp them to the form [Photo B]. Al­low the assem­bly to dry with the clamps in place overnight to min­i­mize spring­back. Glue a sec­ond stage of four more lay­ers on top of that, fol­lowed by the fi­nal four lay­ers, al­low­ing the glue to dry overnight be­tween stages. Re­peat for the other rocker.

4 Cut the rock­ers to 5×39" from tip to tip, but wait to cut pro­files.

Make front and back legs

1 Build and la­bel the five mor­tise-rout­ing jigs shown on page 33.

2 Cut the front leg halves (B, C) 1∕2" over­width. Bevel-rip and glue the front leg halves [Draw­ing 2]. Use Jig 1 to mor­tise the front leg as­sem­blies (B/C) [Photo C].

3 Lay out two 7×38" blanks for the back legs (D) and cut their front edges to shape [Draw­ing 3]. Mark the cen­ter­line of each mor­tise pair. Rout the mor­tises for the slats (E) us­ing Jig 2 [Photo D] and for the back rail (F) us­ing Jig 3. 4 Mor­tise the back leg for the side rails (G) us­ing Jig 1 [Draw­ing 2]. Fin­ish cut­ting the back legs to shape.

As­sem­ble the rails and back

1 Cut the slats and rails (E–H) to size. Cut the slat spac­ers (I) from 11∕2"-thick stock and set them aside.

2 Use Jig 4 to mor­tise the ends of the back slats (E) [Draw­ing 4, Photo E], and Jig 5 to mor­tise the back rail (F). Use Jig 1 to mor­tise the side rails (G) [Photo F] and front rail (H).


Shape and sand the back slats (E) [Draw­ing 5, Photo G] and front rail (H) [Draw­ing 2a].


To make float­ing tenons, cut 1/2×17/16×60" and 1/2×115/16×30" maple blanks. Rout 3/8" round-overs on all the edges with­out nar­row­ing the strips. From the 17/16"-wide blank, cut 24 tenons 2" long. From the 115/16"-wide blank, cut 12 tenons 2" long.


Dry-as­sem­ble the legs (B/C, D), rails (F, G, H), and slats (E). Rip the slat spac­ers (I) to fit be­tween the top two back slats (E), clamp them in po­si­tion, and scribe the front and back curves [Draw­ing 4, Photo H]. Band­saw and sand the spac­ers to shape, then glue them in place.

As­sem­ble the chair frame

1 Dry-as­sem­ble a front leg (B/C), back leg (D), and side rail (G) to make two sides. Clamp a rocker (A) to the bot­toms of the legs [Draw­ing 6], then scribe, cut, and sand to shape the bot­toms of the legs. 2 Band­saw the rock­ers to shape [Draw­ing 6]. Sand the rock­ers and frame parts B–H. 3 Glue the legs (B/C, D) to the side rails (G) [Photo I]. Glue and screw the rock­ers to the side as­sem­blies [Ex­ploded View, Photo J].

Note: Drill the counter-bored screw holes in the rock­ers per­pen­dic­u­lar to the rocker— not par­al­lel with the chair legs—to leave a round hole for the plugs.

4 Glue the slats (E, E/I), back rail (F), and front rail (H) to the side as­sem­blies (A–D/G) [Draw­ing 2].

5 Cut the cleats (J) and braces (K) to size. Glue and screw them to the frame [Draw­ing 2]. Cut the seat (L) to fit and set it aside.

At­tach the arms

1 Cut and rab­bet the arm sup­ports (M) [Ex­ploded View]. Mor­tise the top ends us­ing Jig 5.

2 Cut the arms (N) to shape, but with­out the notch at the nar­row end [Draw­ing 7]. Mor­tise the arms us­ing Jig 3, align­ing the short edge of the jig with the in­side edge of the arm.

3 Dry-as­sem­ble (with­out tenons) an arm sup­port (M) and arm (N) on the side rail (G). Mark and notch the arm to match the an­gle of the back leg (D) [Photo K]. 4 Glue the arm sup­ports (M) to the arms (N). Glue and screw the arm as­sem­blies to the side rails (G) and back legs (D) [Ex­ploded View]. Plug the coun­ter­bores. 5 Cut arm brack­ets (O) to shape [Draw­ing 8] and glue them in place [Ex­ploded View].

Tip! If your lum­ber sup­plier charges more than twice as much for 8/4 stock as for 4/4, save money by cut­ting rocker lam­i­na­tions from 4/4 boards.

B El­e­vate the rocker form on blocks to pro­vide clamp clear­ance on both sides and the ends. The shape of the form al­lows for mi­nor spring­back.

A Pinch a 4' metal rule in a clamp to cre­ate a curve for the rocker forms. Then align the rule’s curve with marks on the ends and cen­ter.


D Back leg slat jig Jig 2Align the clamp­ing tab edges of Jig 2 with the back edge of the back legs (D). Align the cen­ter­line on the jig with the cen­ter­line of a mor­tise pair.

¼" off­set C Jig 1 Top endsCre­ate a ¼" off­set be­tween the side-rail edges (G) and the tops of the front legs (B/C) by shift­ing the edge of Jig 1 ¼" from the tops of the legs.

F Jig 1 spacerCen­ter the mor­tises on the side rail (G) ends by adding a 1∕8" spacer be­tween Jig 1 and a side rail face. Use the same face for both ends.

E Jig 4Cen­ter Jig 4 on the end of a back slat (E). Place the jig’s clamp­ing leg against the same face of each work­piece at both ends.


H When dry-as­sem­bled, the back slats (E) fit loosely enough to clamp the over­size slat spac­ers (I) be­tween them.

G Con­tour the back slats (E) after bor­ing mor­tises for the float­ing tenons.

Note: Re­mem­ber to flip the pat­tern to mark rock­ers for a right and left pro­file.

Lightly clamp a rocker (A) to a side assem­bly with­out straight­en­ing the curve.

Glue the front legs (B/C) to the seat side rails (G) with a ¼" off­set. Make the other end of the rail edge flush with where the back leg (D) an­gle starts.

K Butt the end of the arm (N) against the edge of the back leg (D) and use a 3"wide scrap to trace the an­gle of the leg onto the edge of the arm.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.