Rocking chairs are comfortable, stylish and often nostalgia-inducing furniture items that many people would rather repair than part with in the event of damage. According to My Rocking Chairs, the rocking chair, with its distinctive curved base, dates back to the 1700s, and legends abound that Benjamin Franklin was its inventor. If you have a rocking chair that needs a new seat, there are replacement ideas that you can do yourself or pay to have done.
To give your rocking chair a rustic or country appeal, try hand-caning a new seat. Hand caning dates back to ancient Egypt, and is the process of weaving wet grass stocks, such as bamboo, wicker or rattan, into sturdy sections. You have to weave the stocks while they are wet, because when they dry, they become hard and brittle. According to The Wicker Woman, one of the most basic hand-caning strategies involves drilling several holes around the frame or perimeter of the chair's seat, and then pulling individual strands through the holes, across the seat space, and out corresponding holes on the other side.
If you want the strength and style of a cane seat for your rocking chair without having to complete the labor-intensive process of hand caning, consider using pre-woven sheets of caning. As The Wicker Woman notes, these sheets come in several different patterns, including those that imitate the traditional look of hand caning. Instead of having to drill holes through a frame, installing pre-woven caning requires that you make grooves along the frame's interior surfaces, which the sheet will then fit in to.
For a rocking chair that originally had a wood seat, you may not want to sacrifice its sturdy, architectural style by using a woven substitute. One option is to carve a new, custom seat out of wood. The best idea is to use the same wood as the rest of the chair. As My Rocking Chairs mentions, manufacturers and craftsmen typically use hardwoods such as elm, oak, maple, mahogany, cherry and walnut to build rocking chairs, so chances are you will want a seat consisting of one of these lumbers. A less expensive alternative is to purchase a pre-fabricated fiberboard seat.
Splint seating offers you a balance between heavy wood seats and lighter caning seats. According to The Wicker Woman, they consist of interwoven splints, or strips, of reed, oak, ash or hickory bark. Craftsmen most commonly install them by wrapping the splints around dowels, or around pre-existing rungs. The most popular patterns for splint seating include basket-weave and herringbone.