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Thread: Introduction - Ladderback Rocker

  1. #1

    Introduction - Ladderback Rocker

    Hello Everyone,
    My name is Doug Roper. I make and teach Windsor and Ladderback chairs. Most of my chairs are constructed with hand tools using traditional methods and techniques. Drawknives and spokeshaves are my tools of the trade.

    I found this site while doing some research and was impressed with the amount of information everyone shared. I look forward to participating and the opportunity to join in the exchange.

    Learning to navigate through a web site can be a frustrating experience. Getting from forum to forum…no problem just point and click, posting a reply…usually easy but attaching a picture…well, that’s at the steep end of my learning curve.

    With this in mind, I thought I’d try my hand at posting and attaching a picture of a cherry ladderback rocker. This chair is constructed with steam bent rear legs and back slats, rockers attached with bridle joints, a seat of woven hickory bark (herringbone pattern) and an oil finish.

    Thanks for the welcome and please feel free to contact me with any comments or questions…Doug Roper Chairmaker

    ws-ladderback rocker.jpg

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada
    Nice looking chaire Doug!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Escondido, CA
    Welcome Doug. Nice looking chair.

    Isn't it an amazing coincidence that your last name is "Chairmaker"!

    Are you related to Brian Boggs Chairmaker?

    But seriously, I assume that you are the Doug Roper from Lakeside, CA. If so, I love your website and your creative work, especially your "child and youth chairs".

    Veni Vidi Vendi Vente! I came, I saw, I bought a large coffee!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Middleton, Idaho
    Hi Doug,

    Welcome to the Creek. Your chair really looks great. Building a chair is on my list of things to do. I hope I live long enough to get everything done...

    It is a pleasure to meet you, Sam

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Stony Plain, Alberta
    Welcome to the Creek Doug. Good to have you aboard.
    Great chair and beautiful work.
    I hope you can give us a little tutorial from time to time on the chairs you build...

  6. #6
    Hi Doug,

    Do you have a rule-of-thumb for guessing on how much spring back you expect from a steamed leg?
    I just finish a child sized shaker rocker and had more spring back than I expected. I still have a slight bend. I used air dried green ash. Diameter 1 3/8" (It was from a tree in our yard)

    Now I have to start on a full size chair.


  7. #7
    Brian - I am the one you speak of. Thank you for the kind words and taking the time to visit my site and see my work.

    Gary - Thank you for the welcome. I'd be happy to post and share some of the methods/techniques I use in making various chairs.

    Bill - There is no set rule. Spring back and bend-ability can vary with the radius of the bend, the different wood species and even within the same species. An option you have is to over bend the wood a bit. Allow the legs to remain in the forms, wedged and clamped securely and let dry. After drying, place a leg on your bench with the curve up and apply downward pressure on the bend. Do this in small increments and continued until you achieve the desired bend.

  8. #8
    Doug, lot of movement and art in the chair!! Great flowing lines, and just a real comfortable look.

    Welcome, and thanks for the input already - looks like you have a lot to offer to the crowd here, and I look forward to more input from you. Great to learn from a master.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Atlanta , Ga.
    Excellent design and build on the chair Doug. You should be a wealth of information on chair builds as I believe it is indeed a specialized art.

    Well done and welcome....

    Woodworkers' Guild of Georgia
    Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler

  10. #10

    Chair rockers advice

    Hi Doug,
    That's a lovely looking chair, thanks for posting the pic & offering your help.
    I'm a greenwood worker in the UK, I also work by hand in the same way as you. I've built a few ladderback chairs and am currently working on my first rocking chair using ash. Could you give me some advice on making the rockers? In Drew Langsner's book "The Chairmaker's Workshop" he suggests either steaming or sawing the rockers. Steaming would allow me to make them from smaller trees using just the handtools I have but I'm worried about whether they will both end up the same shape after drying. What methods do you use, what kind of radius do you give them?
    Many thanks,

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    LA & SC neither one is Cali
    Gorgeous rocker!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    I really like the design of that rocker, Doug. Very nice!

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  13. #13

    Rockers - Bent or Sawn

    I think your concerns are well justified. I have legs that I've bent and left in the forms for a couple of months giving them more than enough time for the bends to "set". They never have been identical. As you've probably read, if the radii of the rockers are different the chair will walk. Also, they must be in plane with each other or the chair can travel. I use rockers made from kiln dried quartersawn stock orienting the wood so the inside of the tree is to the bottom of the rocker. I pattern cut them so they are absolutely identical.

    As for the radius of the rockers, generally speaking 40" works well. A larger radius will rock slower . I know makers who like 42" but I've been happy at 40". If you need a pattern, send me a PM with your address and I'll be happy to send one to you.

    Keep me informed of your progress and please send some pictures of your chair at the different stages of construction. I'm always curious to see how others make their chairs. Also, feel free to ask any questions you may have during your build.

    I wish I could take credit for the design of the rocker, but that goes to Brian Bogg's. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with him and reap the rewards of his knowledge, technique and design.

    Thank you all again for the kind words...Doug

  14. #14

    rockers - thanks

    Thanks so much for this advice, Doug - it will save a lot of effort as I was tempted by the steaming option. A pattern for sawing out rockers would be wonderful, PM sent. I am working from a method by Mike Abbott in his book "Living Wood", a very well known greenwood worker over here.

  15. #15
    Some projects take a little longer than others to get finished. I had to move my workshop during the building of the rocking chair and then other stuff pushed ahead of it. Finally got it finished last month with a woven rush seat. Thanks again for the rocker plans Doug, they worked a treat.


    8169388132_4d23bbaa3e_m.jpg 8169388330_c55576ecdf_m.jpg

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