Chair design dimensions

I am interested in designing a rocking chair. I have found plenty of information on chairs but nothing basic about the geometry of a rocker. Can you explain seat placement and back angle relative to the rockers; provide a geometry for the rocker linkage with respect to the ground; and a seat geometry for an average person?

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Answers to your questions

You raised a number of legitimate and important questions regarding the design of a rocker. However, I’ve found that there are no clear and singular answers. There are so many things to consider when designing a rocker. I really couldn’t dictate curves, angles and lengths as a formula because they might change depending on a particular design.

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Because of the special demands put upon a rocking chair (as compared to a regular chair), every aspect of its Chair design dimensions and construction should be carefully considered. For instance, a rocking chair’s legs must be shorter than those of a chair to compensate for the addition of rockers. And a rocker’s back should be only slightly angled; otherwise, a sitter might feel like the chair will tip over when in use.

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In my experience, it takes three or four tries to come up with a successful original design, but there are a few ways to speed the process along. The simplest approach is to use an existing rocker as a model. After measuring, inspecting and trying the chair, you can make adjustments and changes for your version.

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Another method that helps me in the shop is to experiment with the position of the legs on the rockers. On a Windsor rocker, for instance, the legs are slotted to receive the rockers (see What makes a rocker work). This construction allows you to temporarily clamp the legs to the curved rockers as well as experiment with the position of the chair on the rockers. A small 1/2-in. shift in the chair’s position along the rockers can shift the sitter’s weight and dramatically change how the chair rocks.

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