top of page

Cedar Glider

The original glider

This is what I started with....

I made this glider in 1996 to welcome the birth of my daughter. It has the letter "M" to signify "Mommy" and "McCrory" and "Mike".

After being outdoors in the harsh winters, it's still functional, but not that nice to look at anymore. In this project, I will reverse engineer the glider and rebuild it from scratch.

Photo of the steel bars and bearings

After measuring all the pieces, I disassembled the old glider with the intent to reuse the bearings and steel bars. I had the bars custom made at a metal shop.

I was very fortunate with these bearings. Back in 1996 before the Internet was widespread, it wasn't that easy to find components. I lived a few blocks away from a bearing manufacturer, so I dropped by to see if I could get what I needed.

They didn't sell to consumers, but the gentleman that I met with gave me four samples at no cost.  A big thank you to Kilian Manufacturing in Etobicoke, Ontario!  And they're still working perfectly after 20 years of rain and snow.

Photo of the miled and cut pieces

The first time I made the glider, I used dimensional lumber. I'm pretty sure it was Western Red Cedar. This time around I am using rough cut Spanish Cedar. 

After milling up the pieces (68 pieces total) my garage smelled amazing!

It was a lot of pieces to keep track of, so I labeled them all to prevent any confusion and to avoid making a mistake.

Image of the original glider base

I took measurements of all of the pieces that form the base -- 11 pieces in all.

Photo of the pieces used to make the base

I cut each of the pieces on the table saw.

Then I used the band saw to round some of the corners and to cut the profile of the base.

Then, back at the table saw, I used a dado set to cut half-lap joints.

Photo of the base end glued and clamped
Photo of the new base

All of the pieces for the ends of the base fit well. I glued them up and clamped them, and then screwed them together using deck screws.

The new base is exactly the same size as the old base, but it looks a lot cleaner with the new cedar.

Photo of band saw cutting the profile of the front edge of the seat support

Now it's time to work on the seat. I cut out the front edge of the support for the seat slats on the band saw.

Photo of the seat support

The support for the seat slats is comprised of four pieces. One piece is rectangular and straight on all four sides. The other three pieces were all cut on the band saw.

I used the pieces form the old glider to trace out the profile before cutting.

Photo of seat slats with spacers

Using a little bit of math, I figured out the size of the gap between each of the seat slats and then cut some spacers on the table saw. This helped to ensure equal spacing. Each slat was just a little more than 1/4" apart.

Photo of seat slats being pre-finished
Photo of "M" pattern being transferred to wood
Photo of pattern being traced with pencil

I put a light coat of finish on each seat slat prior to screwing into the support. This will make it much easier to finish later, especially on the bottom and between each of the slats.

I used Behr Premium transparent weather proofing all in one wood finish. It was tinted with Cedar Naturaltone to help accentuate the cedar color.

Moving on to the back slats, I needed to cut the letter "M" into the center slat.  

I used a tool that has a serrated wheel that makes little dots through the paper to transfer the pattern onto the wood.


I've had the set for at least 20 years and they're really helpful for transferring patterns.  I don't remember where I bought it, but they are available from Amazon.

Then I used a pencil to trace along the dots to make the pattern more visible prior to cutting.

Photo of using scroll saw to cut out the "M"

I used a scroll saw to cut the "M". I definitely need a new blade. It was smoking while cutting, which was surprising since the cedar is pretty soft.

Photo of router bit used to round over back slats

I used a roundover bit to round over the edges of each of the back slats and each of the seat slats.

Photo of back slats being positioned with spacers

I used spacers again to equally space the back slats. In this case, the slats are roughly 1/2" apart.

I assembled the back on a 48" x 48" sheet of MDF. This made it easy to assemble because the back is exactly 48" wide. All I had to do was position the two end slats along the edges of the MDF, and then space the remaining pieces with the help of the spacers.

Photo of arm rests clamped to glider

I temporarily clamped the arm rests into position while I set the back into the correct position.

The back is held in place with a board behind the back that attaches to each arm rest with a half-lap joint.

Photo of notch cut in arm rest

I modified the original design by cutting a slot in the arm rest to help support the back. This will take some of the stress off the half-lap joints, and it adds a bit of security in case the half-lap joint fails.

I never had a problem with the old one, but it doesn't hurt to play it safe.

Photo of using jig saw to round corners of arm rest

I used a jig saw to round the corners of the arm rest. It would have been too hard to do this on the band saw because I needed to cut through the half-lap joint.

Photo of router used to round over arm rests

The rounded corners were finished off with the roundover bit.

Photo of attaching bars and bearings to join the base to the seat

The last step was to attach the seat to the base with the steel bars and bearings. The bearings are fastened to the wood using 3/8" bolts.

Photo of the completed glider

And here's the finished product.  Well, finished with one coat of finish. It still needs to be sanded with a final coat of finish applied.

A Little History

Photo of me making the original bench in 1996

My workshop in 1996 was my driveway.

Photo of my wife and her sister at about 38 weeks

This was probably May 2006, just a week or two before my daughter was born.

Photo of me and my new baby on the glider

And this is why I built it in the first place.

bottom of page