Plywood rocking chair

Starter chair made out of plywood

The reason we start with

plywood is cost & simplicity .It takes

60-80 board feet of 8/4

hardwood to make a rocker or 2½ 4‘x8’ sheets of  ¾” plywood.

It is also much easier

to laminate a complete

chair. There are far fewer pieces and sub


I know... you want to make an ebony wood masterpiece for your first chair. But trust me, 

plywood, with all it’s shortcomings, is the way to go when you want to learn the process.



   Some of you readers will have a lot of woodworking experience and some will just be starting out. I am going to try and keep things simple enough that everyone can finish a chair.

First I suppose is why use stack lamination for a building technique. Best answer is that it sells! Because the finished chair looks like it was sculpted out of a solid block, people (customers, critics, the man on the street) can make the switch from “craft” to “art”. That means instead of $400 for a chair it’s now $4000.  So when you are standing there in that cloud of dust and asking yourself “What am I doing?”... now you know.

Let’s cut to the chase. This chair is not for the faint of heart. What gives it the look is the fully sculpted look. Read abrasive sculpted. Read clouds of dust! Unless you are prepared to hang onto a grinder for hours on end and deal with the enormous mess you are going to make... better pick another chair design. What we don’t want to have happen is for someone to spend $1000 on wood and $500 on tools just to end up with a big unfinished lump. It happens... and unfinished sculpture can sit in a corner for years and never get done.

Here is a little check list of things to ask yourself before you get started.

1. Have I ever sanded any wood? Was it flat? Was it curved? Did I have access to all the sanders and grinders I needed? Would I buy some if I had to? Did I wear a respirator for the dust? Did I sand outside? Could I sand outside? Did I fill my garage with dust that is still there to this day?

2. Wood for a rocking chair is expensive. Sixty to Eighty board feet for a hardwood chair. Do the math... what does your wood cost? $5-$10-$15 a board foot. Do the math. It takes 2½ 4’x 8’ sheets of ¾” plywood to do a plywood chair. What kind of plywood do you want to use? Do the math.

3. Do I have a workspace? Will I have to rent/borrow a workspace. It does not have to be big. Two hundred square feet minimum, but it has to have good light, 30 amp electrical outlet , good ventilation and the ability to clean it out of dust and chips. Will anyone bitch at me for all the noise and dust I make?

  4. What kind of sanders and grinders do I currently own/borrow? Would I spend $500 on sculpting tools? $1000?

5. Do you have a significant other that requires a lot of your time. You get into a sculpted rocking chair and you just sent a 100 hours of your life down the river. Marriages and relationships get put under a lot of stress when you are gone all the time. Think about it.

  1. 6.How many chairs (pieces of sculpture) do I plan to make. One? A hundred? Going to turn pro and make thousands?

  1. be continued...

Rocking chair class lunchtime. A 10 session class with 12 craftsman from the Colorado Woodworkers Guild.  ( Jan.- Feb. 2012 )

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