|Project by SwedishIron||posted 05-19-2011 09:52 AM||6267 views||15 times favorited||16 comments|
Here is my attempt at a Maloof Inspired rocking chair which started out as a class at a local community college called Redrocks Community College in Lakewood Co. The class was taken in the Spring of 2010 and it was about 50% completed at the end of the class. The chair’s crest-rail material was a bit too wet to shape so it pretty much needed to finish drying out for around 10 months. My goal of the project was to build a Maloof inspired reproduction as much as possible, not an exact replica of a single one of his prototypes but an assembly of parts or styles from across the evolution of his rocking chair development. I purchased two books that were very handy to use as reference material:
The Furniture of Sam Maloof by Jeremy Adamson and Woodworker by Sam Maloof
In early April I jumped back into the project with a goal of completing it by the May 14th Open House at RRCC. The last 6 weeks required a time investment of around 3 hours per weekday evening and 10-16 hours per weekend. The final total was pretty close to 200 hrs of work.
The primary material is amazing 8/4 Birdseye Maple from www.milwaukeewoodworks.com and the dark plugs are Brazilian Rosewood.
With as many other of these chairs that have been built and documented on the internet the last few years I’m sure most LJ’s have a rough idea as to the process behind these chairs. Templates are used to rough out the initial shapes of the chair pieces, the bandsaw/shapers is used to help remove and sculpt the material down to make it easier at a later state in the process. Joinery was cut using tablesaws, router and a regular handsaw. In addition a few other handy shaping tool include an Angle Grinder using a fine 4” Carbide Burr disk, larger rasps, a “double ended 8 Grobet Wax File (the most useful file ever!), 6” Random Orbital Sander, dowels and other profiles wrapped in sandpaper and finally hand sanding.
The material being so hard, and the light color of the material really made it hard to skimp on the sanding and required a methodical progression from rough to finer sandpaper grits in order to remove all the tool and sanding marks. As each of the transitions between the parts were finished I finished sanded as much of the chair to 400 grit to help minimize sanding the entire chair once shaping was completed. After all the shaping was completed a large % of the chair required additional sanding to prep the surface for finishing.
Before applying the finish the entire chair was burnished using 0000 Ultra fine steel wool to really give the surface a nice shine. As for the finish I used the standard two part Maloof Finish sold by Rockler. The first three coats consisted of this mixture/ratio: 1/3 Tung Oil, 1/3 Boiled Linseed Oil, and 1/3 Semi-Gloss Poly. After applying each coat of the oil, before whipping it off I used 1500 grit wet/dry sandpaper to really work the oil into the wood and take the finish to the next level. The next part of the finishing schedule was three more coats of the second potion of Tung Oil, BLO and Beeswax this time. After the final coat dried for 24 hours I paste waxed the surface of the chair 5 times and buffed the surface. The result speaks for itself in the pictures and really popped out the curl in the material and accentuated the depth of the luster as the light bounces off the surface.
When in doubt go as thin as possible without pushing your luck too much and risk exposing a screw or dowel. Close your eyes and trust your hands/feel to find the elements of the chair which are still asymmetric and require additional shaping to get everything just right. Don’t rush anything doing this chair, take your time and don’t get cheap with the sandpaper.
The Last Picture
Not that I ever saw the underside of a Maloof chair photographed to show how he treated that surface but I did take the time and added in somewhat of a “belly” on the seat bottom to preserve the thickness of that portion of the chair where it is sculpted the deepest. The classed instructor mentioned he had an opportunity to take a class with Maloof before he passed away and that was a touch he like to incorporate in his chairs. Just wanted to explain what that picture is and why I took it from such a strange angle.
Thanks for reading..
The first three pictures from this set were taken by Gregory Fulghum @ RRCC
-- Scott, Colorado