Mission Style Rocking Chair


This information has been reprinted from a 1912 Popular Mechanics publication titled "Mission Furniture And How To Make It".

In furniture construction such as this, nothing is gained by trying to plane up the stock out of the rough. This is mere drudgery and can be more cheaply and easily done at the planing mill by machinery. There will be plenty to do to cut and fit all the different parts. Order the pieces mill-planed and sandpapered to the sizes specified below.

Plain sawed red oak takes a mission finish nicely and is appropriate. Some people like quartered white oak better, however. The cost is about the same.

The stock for the chair is as follows: Widths and thicknesses are specified exact except for the rear posts and the rockers; but to the lengths enough surplus stock has been added to allow for squaring the ends.

  • 2 front posts, 1-5/8 by 2-1/4 by 22-1/2 in., S-4-S.
  • 2 back posts, 1-5/8 by 11 by 40 in., S-2-S.
  • 1 front horizontal, 3/4 by 3-1/2 by 22 in., S-4-S.
  • 1 back horizontal, 3/4 by 3-1/2 by 20 in., S-4-S.
  • 2 back horizontals, 3/4 by 3-1/2 by 20 in., S-4-S.
  • 2 side horizontals, 3/4 by 3-1/2 by 20 in., S-4-S.
  • 2 back slats, 5/16 by 3-1/2 by 20 in., S-4-S.
  • 2 arms, 1 by 4-1/2 by 25 in., S-2-S.
  • 1 rocker, 2-1/4 by 6 by 33 in., S-2-S.
  • 5 bottom slats, 3/4 by 2-1/2 by 19-1/2 in., S-4-S.

Begin work on the posts first. The front posts should have one end of each squared, after which they can be cut to the exact length. The rear posts, according to the stock bill, are specified for the exact thickness. By exercising forethought, both may be got from the piece ordered. The tops and bottoms of the posts should have their edges slightly chamfered to prevent their slivering.

The shape of the arm is a little out of the ordinary, but the drawing indicates quite clearly how it is cut. The arm is fastened to the posts by means of dowels and glue after the other parts of the chair have been put together.

Now prepare the curved parts of the back. These parts are worked to size, after which they are thoroughly steamed and bent in the forms described on another page. These forms should have a surface curve whose radius is 22 in. While the parts are drying out, go ahead with the cutting of the mortises and tenons of post and rail.

Inasmuch as the width of the front of the chair exceeds that of the back by 2 in., allowance must be made for slant either in the tenons of the side rails or in the mortises. This will necessitate the use of the bevel in laying off the shoulders of the tenons.

The slats for the bottom are made long enough so that their ends may be "let into" the front and back rails, a 3/4-in. groove being plowed to receive them.

Assemble the back, then the front; and when the glue on them has dried, put the side rails in place, then the arms. The chair should now be scraped and sandpapered preparatory to applying the finish.

The cushion shown in the picture is made of Spanish roan skin leather and is filled with elastic felt. Such cushions can be purchased at the upholsterer's or they can be made by the craftsman himself. Frequently the two parts of the cushion are laced together by means of leather thongs.


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Books From Rockler Woodworking

Build an Elegant Rocking Chair, 4 Disk DVD Set
This four-DVD set is a complete guide to learning how to build your own elegant rocking chair. From template creation to functionality to artistic style and finishing, the instruction of Scott Morrison on these DVDs covers it all. Running time: approximately six hours of instruction plus bonus features.

Build an Elegant Rocking Chair, 4 Disk DVD Set

Build an Elegant Rocking Chair, 4 Disk DVD Set