A place for me to display some of the varied projects that come out of my shop, as well as to "talk" about some of my experiences working with wood.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Off my Rocker? or New projects update

After finishing the dining room project, I needed to clean up some smaller projects that have been lingering and also do some turning as I had avoided it since the spindle turning marathon of a few months back. The mallet from the last post was the most interesting thing turned.

Rocker by the master himself - Sam Maloof

Every woodworker I know has a "bucket list" of projects that they must build in their lifetime. As with many other woodworkers, my list includes a rocking chair in the style of Sam Maloof  - this iconic rocker is a test for every woodworker and a true accomplishment for everyone that completes one.

There are several chair makers out there who have specialized in this form and have developed a business out of showing others how to build this rocking chair. I looked at them all, as well as read the reviews on their videos and settled on Hal Taylor for a number of reasons:

Hal Taylor rocker in English Walnut

  1. The reviews of his materials and his accessibility via email to answer questions was consistently very good.
  2. Not only was a video available but a 256 page e-book explaining things in extreme detail which improves the understanding of an extremely complex project.
  3. Hal also has designed his plans to be built in various sizes for different size people, since the first rocker will be for my wife, it important to have a chair to fit her smaller size - after all a rocker is all about comfort!
  4. Most importantly, the styling of Hal's interpretation of the Maloof rocker pleased me the most. In particular the styling of the backrest, which is coopered and shows vertical grain which has an aesthetic symmetry with the seat which is unique among builders of this style of chair. I also prefer his interpretation of the rocker itself by eliminating the re-curve at the tail of the rocker.

So I proceeded to order the media from Hal, and for the past couple of weeks reading through the material and watching the videos while on the plane travelling for work. The complexity is overwhelming at times, until you watch the many hours of video to the end and see how the chair comes together in the end. Only then, does all the process come together into the completed rocker. You also get an understanding of the genius of Hal's approach where he makes what appears to be an obtuse step early on that saves much work later on in the project. This rocking chair is essentially a three dimensional sculpture with many complex nuances tossed into the mind boggling trigonometry of building a comfortable rocker.

Scott Morrison Shop Stool
Having built the dining chairs will be a tremendous asset here, particularly when carving the seat of the rocker, but I felt I needed more preparation dealing with the very complex joinery of the Maloof-style so I started an interim project to build while roughing out materials and creating jigs for the rocker build. I am building a shop stool using a plan from Scott Morrison, another builder in the Maloof-style who has developed videos and plans for these projects.

This project will require a more heavily carved seat than my chairs, as well as some carving on the joints which should help improve my skills in this area before tackling the rocker. I will be building this stool with a cherry seat and backrest, and keeping with the style of my chairs, I will use Ash for all the vertical elements.

A few pictures of progress on the rocker while I work though the stool. I am building a petite and a medium size rocker for my wife and I, both from cherry.

Laying out the wood and grading for the grain match. (there is enough
wood here for 2 rockers plus a few other things),
I am hoping the wood marked "Match A" will give me 2 rockers.
Do you see rocking chairs hidden in their somewhere?

Lots of jigs and templates necessary for this one!

Seat glue-up for petite rocker.

Petite seat again and back legs for both roughed out

Gluing up plywood to make bending forms for rockers and back braces
(there are 6 pieces of 3/4" 10"x48" glued into 3 pairs for cutting into forms


  1. Hi Richard, That's a handful of a project! It makes you realise why Maloofs curvacious and highly finished chairs cost so much. Good luck!
    All the best, David.

    1. Yeah I have seen them priced from $2,000-$20,000 depending on the wood and the maker. And an original Maloof rocker just sold at auction for $80,000 - wow.

      I have my hands full with this one.