Rocking chair carpenter influenced by Rotch Jones Duff House

NEW BEDFORD — While setting up a Quaker exhibit at the Rotch-Jones-Duff House & Garden Museum, a curator challenged facilities manager and lead gardener Rick Finneran to rebuild an old rocking chair found in the attic.

He’s now made six.

“I had built furniture in the past, minor things, but nothing like this,” said Finneran. “A chair itself is stationary, a rocking chair has a lot more life and more components.”

Finneran said there’s a creativeness when building in a chair and having something that’s functional, that’s good looking and your own. “Rocking chairs have sort of a life of their own and so I kind of liked that aspect of it,” he added.

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He was inspired to build his first rocking chair after refurbishing the one for the exhibit and finding it very comfortable when sitting.

He then took some scrap wood and put together a template. “I really wanted to build a rocking chair, without any nails or screws,” he said.

Rick Finneran speaks about the historically inspired rocking chairs he is making at the Rotch-Jones-Duff House in New Bedford.

When building one, Finneran said you have to think about it almost as a bridge — everything works with itself. It needs to be properly dispersed or else it will collapse. Proper dispersal will allow it to remain sturdy, which will make it a longer lasting chair, too.

However, Finneran is no stranger when it comes to tacking a challenging task.

Since 2016, Finneran has been the facilities manager and lead gardener for the Rotch-Jones-Duff House. He is responsible for a majority of the garden as well as the look of many of the exhibits.

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