What can I say, I’m definitely a sucker for the down-trodden, the misfit, the broken, and unwanted. So, when someone offers me a piece, whether it’s destined for the trash or just a puzzle for someone to fix, I have a hard time turning them down. Enter in this antique broken rocking chair. Isn’t it lovely?
I mean, just look at those legs, the gorgeous walnut wood. Often, many folks mistake a sewing rocking chair for a child’s chair because of the size. However, these smaller chairs are designed to suit someone with needle and thread, crochet hooks, or knitting needles because it has no arms. That frees up the person to use their elbows without restriction. It’s funny because I totally get it. I have to sit sideways in comfy chairs to get at my work. This chair makes total sense to me.
Where did I get it? Well, a married couple I know that own a thrift store are sweet friends of mine, Ben and Ashley. They were offered by a kind donor to come take a myriad of furniture she was storing in her barn, both broken and sound. This broken rocking chair was one of them. Ben offered it to me because it needs more than just a cleaning.
It’s obviously missing the caning in the seat, but also has a break in the backrest. Ugh. It’s sad when something like this happens. Not to worry, though, because it is repairable. Yay!
First, I notice that the wood is more on the dry side – probably from sitting in the barn for who knows how long. Also, there seems to be something added to the backrest originally as seen below. The direction of the grain is of utmost importance in furniture building, but apparently someone knew straight off that this was weak in this spot.
Then, to remedy the damage, I drill three holes the diameter of the dowel I’m using (3/8″) in from the back connecting to the seat and upright leg.
After that, I use wood glue and insert the dowel, as well as glue the crack. Once the dowel is in, I cut it to length and let cure.
Next, once the dowel is in, I countersink 2 ½” screws into the dowel. Why? Well, the dowel is to strengthen the wood, and the screws will add reinforced support to hold the weight of someone leaning back. Last, I insert wood plugs over the screw heads and then apply wood putty and also let that cure. After curing, I sand it down and move on to the next step.
My first choice to repair the seat is to build a new seat out of jute webbing like I’ve done in other upholstery projects. Unfortunately, I was short in my webbing stock by a few inches. Therefore, I decide to cut a piece of ply to cover the hole in the seat instead. This works perfectly fine too.
COLOR & FABRIC TIME
As much as I really dislike having to say it’s time to paint…it’s time to paint. While I love to keep the wood center stage, it’s not possible with all the repairs I make. With that, I decide to bring this chair a modern vibe with nod to days gone by. Additionally, you can see the same situation when I found a broken settee curbside as well.
I choose blue because of the upholstery I’m using from my stash. It’s the same blue I just used on the marble inlay table and also on my dining ceiling. Next, is upholstery and batting. Everyone loves a cushy tush, so first goes on the batting.
Followed by the upholstery and trim. Isn’t this the exciting part? wahoo! I used this same upholstery on an Art Deco dressing table seen HERE in this past post.
At last we can see the results of my broken rocking chair makeover. Take a look…
It’s got a modern vibe that makes you smile and is still comfy for using as a sewing rocker or any day rocker. Not only do I love the size of these because they fit in anywhere, but also the gait is soothing. And, how about that upholstery?
It’s cheerful and full of soft colors, and also has fabric protection for longevity. I can see this in my sewing/craft room one day. However, I’m offering it in my online shop as my lil’ ol’ self can’t seem to move from my current spot just yet.
It’s funny how inanimate things can send you down memory lane before you can blink. My mother had an antique folding needlepoint rocking chair in the corner of their bedroom. I remember sitting on it waiting for my mom to get reach for church. Have you had a special rocking chair in your life?
I’d love to hear your stories and walk down memory lane with you. Likewise, do pin and share this broken rocking chair repair so that others can salvage their loved one’s furniture items too. Some times it just needs a willing spirit.
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Your rocker turned out so pretty! I DO have a special rocking chair in my life! My mom refinished my grandma’s rocking chair to be black with gold accents with dark red upholstery (It was the early ’70s!) It sat in their bedroom for years until I was pregnant with my son, when I got to have it for his room. During the nesting season of my pregnancy, I painted the old rocking chair white and put a blue and white check upholstery on it to match Ben’s bedding. It is so comfy! It is now stripped down waiting to be redone, because…we went to an estate sale a couple of years ago and bought a very nice antique rocker for $10. I put it in my office, and then we got a kitten. The kitten became a cat and decided the chair was his, which is fine except that he uses it as a jungle gym and has scratched the heck out of the arms. SO, no rocking chairs will be refinished and put out in kitty territory until Philip goes to the Rainbow Bridge or is too old to play on them. I do have some lovely fabric waiting to put on them though!
Thank you so much, Noelle. What a grand story! I think my mom had a black rocking chair just like that in the same era, and even my grandmother too. I love that you’re letting your cat have a time with a special seat. Too cute!
Rebecca - NC says
You’ve taught me something new again!!! It now makes total sense that this is a sewing rocker!! ?. I have an antique 18th century Windsor rocker that my mother bought to rock me with before I was born. It also served to rock my three siblings. But, because she bought it for me (for $5 and some old clothes!) it graces my house!! ?
My pleasure to share, Rebecca. I just love these pieces because it was a time when people lived a simple life, no screens, no rush, just enjoying being. Oh, to go back to those days. Your rocking chair sounds like a true treasure! 😀
I love this one, it looks really pretty. I must tell you though, we call this sort of chair a nursing chair, still have one in my loft, not a rocker sadly, but when my babies were of that age they were wonderful, so I suppose another use for it.x
Thank you, Janette. Yes, I know that as well, just for me I’ve seen them more in the sewing use. Crazy to think I nursed all my kids until they self-weaned. Time flies!
Larissa, you are a miracle worker! Love your post and ingenuity!
You sure know how to make a gal smile, Penny! 😀 Thank you!
Larissa,you have opened a memory for me. When I was very young,my Grandpa had a big heavy rocker. I loved rocking in It. What child doesn’t?The best part of this chair was as I rocked it would walk across the floor with me. The faster I rocked the faster the rocker would travel. I am not sure if my Grandma liked that or not,but it was fine with my Grand pa! Your rocker is lovely. Especially the blue. My favorite color in all the world. You know God must love color,he made so many shades,tints etc. Bless your heart and willing hands.
What a treasure you have! I know exactly what you mean because I did that too much to my parents and grandparents demise. haha! Viva la rocker! 😀 Thank you for the kind words, Charleen.
Oh my goodness…I did not realize a chair like this could be saved (with the major split like that)! You have incredible fix it skills Larissa, and I’m so grateful you share them with us. 🙂 I didn’t have a rocker growing up and I never knew there was such a thing as a sewing rocker or nursing rocker).I do have a rocker that I bought for myself 45 yrs ago, before I got married 🙂 I still have it but should really update it a bit…it looks quite dated.. I’m also grateful you share your upholstery skills too – that new seat with the beautiful paint on your chair…it is better than new! It will make a lovely addition to someone’s home and memories 🙂
Yeah, as long as the wood isn’t too parched and the grain is tight, it’s definitely doable done right. Sweet that you got yourself one and still have it. They’re such a treat to have. Thanks for the love, Mary. 😉
Ohhhhh my!!! This right here is amazing!! Great job Larissa. I have an unhealthy admiration for rocking chairs ??. I had a glider to nurse my first two boys in but then I grew and the chair didn’t. It wasn’t the right size for me to start so it was uncomfortable to nurse in.
My mother had a rocking chair that she nursed me in. My siblings called it Niki’s chair because she got it new when she had me., and then my little brother. That was really the extent of my mom doing much that was motherly so I will leave it there.
However it was a nice size rocker and I have been on the hunt for one like it for a long time.
aww…thanks for the smile, Niki. Yes, hard to find a good one nowadays. I always look to the designs of the past and prefer an oldie, but goodie.
I love rocking chairs too! And, this upcycle turned out beautiful- it is so, so nice to see old or broken things given a brand new life!
As always, I’m inspired to look through the scrap/junk pile to come up with something “new”! ?
You and me both. 🙂 Thanks so much, Jill. I wish this chair could tell me all its stories!