The heart of custom wooden rocking chairs lies in the quality of their materials.
Rockers have unique motion requirements which demand top-notch wood, glue and fasteners for the overall success of the chair. They also have areas of very high friction (such as the runner bottoms) that must utilize a strong, rub resistant wood to resist premature wear-out.
No matter how well it is made, or how fancy it looks, sub-par materials will cause the wood rocker to fail. Stay clear of rockers that have knots, cracks or other wood defects. These kinds of rockers won't offer any guarantees!
A craftsman must have in mind the goal of building you the best rocker he can. In order to do this, he has to understand the strengths and weaknesses of various woods when they're used for different parts of a rocker.
Small defects in boards must be evaluated carefully before deciding whether or not to use the material. There are many times when I reject a beautiful piece of wood for a particular location on a rocker because of a defect, as you can see in the photo.
The bottom line is that there are no shortcuts to understanding wood. It takes years of working with different species to develop the right knowledge about how each one behaves.
Fortunately, you can benefit from my experience when the time comes to make your selection. Remember, the aim is for both beauty and longevity in a well thought-out design.
While it's not surprising that making a custom wooden rocking chair requires a great deal of knowledge about wood, it might surprise you to learn about the wide selection of beautiful hardwoods available. These include native, North American-grown species such as walnut, maple, cherry, oak etc.
There are also exotic species like mahogany, rosewood, lacewood, etc. that grow in other parts of the world.
These woods come in a normal, straight-grain pattern, which is excellent for strength and durability. Sometimes, they come in a "figured-grain" pattern, which can add stunning 3-dimensional effects. In both cases, the correct building and finishing processes bring out the best in the wood.
For more discussion about wood selection, feel free to contact me here.