Rocking Chair University Week – Day 5

Today was both a happy day and a sad day. Happy, because we would finish the chair to the point that we had set out to do four days ago and sad, of course, because it was my last day here at Rocking Chair University. The week had gone so fast, it seemed that I had just arrived!

The day started with a special treat. In addition to rocking chairs Hal has made several guitars and harps. Here he is playing a few songs on the ‘Reso Nuevo’ resophonic guitar (dobro) that he built:

Rocking Chair University Week - Day 5

He doesn’t make guitars anymore but he says he’s working on a few more harp designs and he also hopes to make a violin sometime!

After this enjoyable mini-concert we worked on the arms and the rockers. The first thing to do was to plane the rockers to size:

Rocking Chair University Week - Day 5

For this project this was a one piece rocker and not the laminated type that normally is fitted to Hal’s traditional chairs. Although, I never got a chance on this visit to see the back braces and rockers being laminated I saw this as a positive sign of the need to return for another visit. 🙂

The rockers were then trial fitted to the chair for sizing:

Rocking Chair University Week - Day 5

At this point it was only fitting for the builder to take it out for a spin :):

Rocking Chair University Week - Day 5

A bit of fine tuning and sizing is needed for the stacks that will be added to the rockers and legs:

Rocking Chair University Week - Day 5

Here are the arms being laminated:

Rocking Chair University Week - Day 5

Once the glue was cured the arms were attached to the seat. It was easier to do this before the rockers were attached:

Rocking Chair University Week - Day 5

Here is the small rocker with all it’s parts attached:

Rocking Chair University Week - Day 5

Sadly, it was at this point in the construction where I had to make my leave, with the final sculpting to be done by Hal later.

From start to finish the week had just zoomed by. It was truly a joy to be enveloped in a cocoon of focused woodworking, no, focused art, for it was much more than simply working with wood.

The skill and practicality displayed, the tips and tricks shown and the wisdom shared imparted an experience that is ingrained in my very being. At one time during the day while Hal was answering a call in his office I was sitting alone in the shop musing about the week thus far. I began thinking about the fact that what I was learning here was far more than any book or trial and error could ever teach. There was far more than just basic chairmaking instruction that I received.

It’s a fact that some craftsman get so in tune with their work that they achieve a heightened awareness in their craft and the world around them. It was this sense, the sense that there was something larger, something more, that was I given a small glimpse of. This week I found something more wholesome in the working of wood, a contentment and completeness. This week, I found the Spirit in wood.

I came home with a full set of Hal’s plans, a sense of purpose and a renewed determination to build a chair. And not just any chair but a Hal Taylor style rocking chair!

Now I just have to get all those other projects that have been on my Todo list way too long out of the way. 🙂

Thanks, Hal for a great week. See you again soon!

Back to the shop…

<– Return to Day 4 Thanks for reading!

2 replies on “Rocking Chair University Week – Day 5“

  • Paul Lemiski

    Great blog on going to visit Hal, I purchased his book, video and templates about 8 months ago, i’m currently building my 10th rocking chair! Hals instruction is top not and practical, his design is beautiful, strong and so comfortable with use of flexible back braces and coopered headrest. I’d be interested to see a final picture of this chair he was building while you were there. – Paul

  • Woodworker's Guide

    10th chair?! Wow! And beautiful ones they are too! (Click Paul’s name above to view).

    I finally got around to starting mine a little while ago and I hope to get more time on it thruout the winter (the lathe has a magic spell on me :)).

    As for the final picture of this rocker, this was as far as we got before I had to leave and I don’t believe that Hal took one afterwards. 🙁


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