Restoring an Antique Child’s Rocking Chair
Bringing new life to an old friend
This old chair looks pretty sad right now. The crest rail is broken off, there is a piece missing off the top, and the finish is so worn it rubs off with my hand. But it is a cute piece of furniture, full of memories, and it can be brought back with a little effort.
I enjoy this type of work because I get a peak into what another woodworker did many years ago.
The first thing I want to do is prepare the broken wood of the chair to have the new wood glued on. I use a sharp hand plane to make the rough broken wood absolutely smooth and flat.
Fortunately when wood is broken along the grain like this is the repair will be very strong and almost invisible.
This is careful work
Some times old tools are the best tools. The handplane leaves the wood absolutely flat and smooth as glass.
After tracing the shape of the missing part from the other side of the chair I am cutting out the new piece on a band saw. It will be finish shaped after it is glued onto the chair.
The new piece is placed exactly how it will be positioned on the chair and I mark the cut that must be made to make it fit.
I only get one try! There is no second chance if the cut is not right. I set the small piece up carefully on a crosscut sled and make the cut.
This is why they say you can never have too many clamps in your shop. This little piece requires 3 clamps and some tape to make a good joint.
The clamps are set very carefully so that all forces are balanced and the wood does not slide out of position. They don't need to be very tight as the 2 pieces of wood fit together perfectly.
After the new part is sanded and shaped the entire chair is cleaned and lightly sanded to remove the old worn finish. A new coat of stain and 4 coats of lacquer bring the life back into the chair and it is now ready to bring happiness to a new generation.