Monday, July 12, 2010

Before and After: Child's Rocking Chair

After leaving you hanging with those sneaky peeks the other day, I figured I'd better get something finished to show you right away.

This little rocker has been collecting dust in my garage for months. It was one of the first things I purchased when yard sale season began in the spring.

I knew the people who sold it to me, so I was hopeful that they'd be able to find the missing arm and get it to me so I could make this chair whole again. But I figured that even if it never turned up, I could just pull off the other one, fill the holes, and just have an armless rocker.

This turned out to be a bad idea. The missing arm never turned up, and the back became very unsteady without the support the arms provided, so removing them all together was no longer an option. I looked at Home Depot for something that might work instead, like a staircase baluster, but didn't like what I found.

So, on to Plan C: Make two new arms. I bought a dowel that was the same thickness as the original arm, as well as a smaller dowel that would fit into the hole in the back uprights. I also picked up a spade bit (pictured below) that was the same size as my smaller dowel.

Then I just sort of winged it. I started by cutting the big dowel to the correct lengths for the new arms, then drilled holes where a hole exist in the original arm.

Then I drilled another hole into the end of each new arm for the smaller dowel to fit into.

I cut the small dowels to size...

...which then fitted into the back uprights and the holes I made in the dowel ends.

I sanded the new arms so that the front end was nice and rounded and made the back ends somewhat tapered, then pulled out the trusty Gorilla Glue to assemble everything.

I have to say, I'm pretty pleased that it worked! Since this was an experiment, I wasn't entirely sure that it would work. Because, let's be honest, not all experiments end well. But thank goodness this time it did because I had no Plan D. Obviously these new arms aren't nearly as cute as the old turned ones, but now the rocker is sturdy and whole again.

The friend that I was working on this for requested the rocker be painted (I went with my favorite, Heirloom White) and get a light distressing.

Since the thickness of the dowel that I used for the arms matches the thickness of the legs on the rocker, they actually look like they belong.

Distressing a piece that is bound to get some natural distress from a child's use is a good idea. It saves you the anxiety that inevitably comes with that first ding or scratch to a perfect paint job.

I'm so glad this little rocker has gotten a new life and a new home. Hopefully it lasts for a long, long time yet.

1 comment:

PunkaBunny said...

Crazy question - you don't happen to still have the turned spindle arm you removed from this rocking chair, do you? I am looking for a replacement for MY little rocking chair, and I think the one you removed might be perfect! I would be happy to pay for the arm and shipping. Please email me at