Walnut rocking chairs are made from one of several kinds of beautiful hardwoods that enhance the appearance and durability of your hand made rocker. Here are three commonly asked questions about wood choices.
Generally speaking, a native hardwood is that kind of local tree which drops its leaves in the fall season. We are blessed in America to have forests with some of the most beautiful hardwoods on the planet. Popular species used for rockers include walnut, cherry, maple, ash and oak.
Sometimes pine is used. I don't use it or other softwoods (wood from needle bearing trees) when making custom walnut rocking chairs or other rockers. It has some good characteristics like ease of shaping and low weight, but, these traits come at a price.
It's softer, wears down more quickly and is generally weaker than hardwoods. Additionally, pine is more difficult to finish with a clear finish than hardwoods because of its resinous nature.
However, when it comes to painted windsor chairs, (windsor rockers included) pine is the king's choice for making an easily shaped seat. Traditional windsor chairs often combine hardwoods and softwoods together in their construction.
"Figured wood" is a term used to describe woods that show an unusual grain pattern for that species.
For instance, trees that grow in highly stressful environments, such as insect-infested locations, or areas with poor soils, etc., can develop reactionary growth patterns that show up in the grain of the wood once it is cut into boards.
These patterns can look like undulating waves, blisters, stripes, or birds' eyes, etc.
Boards like this are pretty rare to find at the saw mill. That's why the wood commands a premium price, too.
An experienced craftsman seeks out these boards and evaluates their usage for parts of the custom rocker.
Certain grain patterns can transform walnut rocking chairs, maple rocking chairs, or even oak rocking chairs into really spectacular 3-dimensional works of art. (like you see in the quilted maple at the right)Finally, the goal of choosing the right materials for your custom rocking chair should include both strength and beauty.
Many types of native North American hardwoods fit this bill very well. So, whether you are looking for a subdued, classic look or a lively "figured" chair, there are material sources available to bring a smile to your face.