Sam Maloof inspired rocking chair #1: Part #1 My most complicated project to date

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Blog entry by sandhill posted 09-02-2011 06:12 AM 5673 reads 8 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Sam Maloof inspired rocking chair series Part 2: First try at the Maloof joint **Project on hold pending move** »

This may be a bit early to post this with 2 large projects in the works but I just couldn’t help it. I am still jazzed up from watching the DVD’s I ordered from Hal Taylors “Rocking chair university”. As many of you know I have a good bit of cherry sitting around so I thought it would be a good wood to start with because number one I have it, number two if I screw it up I just grab another piece, number three if it comes out good I will have a nice looking chair. I started today by making the jig/fixture that will hold the arms to cut a cove across the top length of the arm.

The next photo is a pair of templates to draw out the back legs of the rocking chair. I am using MDF because it is easy to shape and make the eased curves for this design.

I have watched the DVD set all the way through once and went back to different chapters as I read his book. I have to say he did a real good job on the course and you could tell he loves to build rocking chairs. I especially like the story he tells about meeting Sam Maloof and giving him one of the chairs he made.
I also like the design changes he made to Sam’s chair I better stop here or this post will have to be sent over to the Review section. I will try to get as much as I can posted as I do the build but first I will need to cut out the rest of the jigs and templates as well as build the glue up bending forms.

Thanks for looking.

19 comments so far

View sras's profile (online now)


4795 posts in 3122 days

#1 posted 09-02-2011 07:45 AM

I’m looking forward to following along. Some day I hope to be doing the same (not for quite a while…) Nice job on the jig!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3230 days

#2 posted 09-02-2011 01:27 PM

You’ve got a good start on your project. With jigs and templates like this, I see more than one rocker in your future. One day I’d like to build one using tiger maple.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View MShort's profile


1789 posts in 3411 days

#3 posted 09-02-2011 02:24 PM

Looking forward to see the build. This is on my big wish list of things to do.

-- Mike, Missouri --- “A positive life can not happen with a negative mind.” ---

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 2980 days

#4 posted 09-02-2011 04:48 PM

I too have the dvd and book and am looking forward to following this blog.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View okwoodshop's profile


448 posts in 3168 days

#5 posted 09-02-2011 09:29 PM

will you try to keep up with how much time and expense you run into? just out of curiosity,thanks

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 3917 days

#6 posted 09-02-2011 10:24 PM

So far I have only used what I have in the shop. Any tools I bought I was going to get anyway (needed a new angle grinder and I may get a new orbital sander). I did get over $200.00 worth of sand paper but that is my normal purchase. I did buy the HOLEY GALAHAD from King Arthur Tools I got the Medium and fine disk which were about $100.00 with shipping. I have over 200 BFT of Cherry laying around that I am using part of for my first chair to learn from. If you were buying a slab of Figured Walnut it would depend on where you live, my guess is it would run about 5 to 6 hundred dollars figuring $15.00 a board foot for 40 BFT of 8/4 figured Walnut but I am sure you could do better then that.
I am told it should take about 100 hours to build the first one because you have to build all the fixtures then cut and dress all the templates. I’m a little slower than most because I like taking my time so I am allowing 150 hours to finish the first one after that it should take about 80 hours for one chair. The cost would be estimated at about seven to eight hundred dollars and not more then a thousand. I can add it up when I am done and post it at the end, if I forget just shoot me a reminder. OH and the DVD set is about $135.00 If I recall correctly.

View cathyb's profile


768 posts in 3237 days

#7 posted 09-03-2011 05:18 AM

I’ve made 18 of these chairs and gradually added some variations of my own. The first chair was, without question, the hardest, but it does get easier. I think the first chair took about 120 hours and now I’m down to 80 hours. My best advice to you is to pace yourself on every step. Any mistake you make will hurt you in the end. As painful as it might be, if you make a mistake early in the game, make that piece over because that mistake will be magnified many fold and you’ll be disappointed with the end result.
Good luck.
If you have any questions, send them my way.

-- cathyb, Hawaii,

View AUBrian's profile


86 posts in 2664 days

#8 posted 09-03-2011 05:30 AM

Actually Sandhill, Highland has the Charles Brock DVD/Plan combo for $89 now, if the difference in cost is important to someone.

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 3917 days

#9 posted 09-03-2011 06:49 AM

Thats the same price as Hal Taylor’s 3 DVD set I bought his 262 page book as well and all the full size templates to make 3 different size chairs (on paper of course). The seat template is wood though and its for laying out the holes to the back slats in the seat for 3 different size chairs. He is real good about answering calls and answers emails for your questions as well. I also bought a few other DVD sets but was not as happy with them. I think the reason for me that is Hal takes his time and tells you why your doing what he tells you to do and that is a big plus in my book. I am sure all these people do a fine job teaching but you really have to stick with one instruction set maybe my next chair if I build another one will be from one of the other DVD sets, right now I need to get through the first one.

Thank You Cathyb I will keep you in mind. How about sending me a slab of that Koa you all have out there? LOL

AUBrian Was Charles Brock the one that had a class at Charles Neils shop in VA?

Thank you everyone for the inspiration th carry on.

I finished up the templates today I hope to make the bending jigs next week I got the all clear to move into my new shop on Oct 1st so I want to have all the parts cut and ready to start building before I have to move the shop.

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 3917 days

#10 posted 09-05-2011 07:17 AM

Today I was not able to do any work on the chair but I did decide to watch the other video I got from another chair maker. The first time I watched this video I did not care for the chair design (personal taste) so I decided to build the one I got from Hal Taylor but with important changes.

After watching the second chair building video I decided I liked some techniques of the way he built his chairs and decided to use them so from here on out I will call the methods of building Chair maker one and Chair maker two. I will be using Hal’s design mainly but I will incorporate some of the methods of chair maker two not because one is better but I feel more comfortable doing it the way chair maker two carries out an operation even though it will produce the same results with one exception and that is the seat layout and design as well as the way its built.

I will use Alignment dowels in each of the 5 boards that make up the seat then cut the Maloof joints on the smaller boards on the router table as opposed to using a hand held router to cut the joints on the full size seat once the joints are cut then I will do the glue up.

Maybe Monday I can cut out the back brace form.

View Mathew Nedeljko's profile

Mathew Nedeljko

715 posts in 3823 days

#11 posted 09-05-2011 07:52 AM

You’re well on your way Sandhill…I will be following in earnest. I have a rocking chair in my future…just not sure when. Thanks for posting the review of Hal Taylor instructions.

-- Aim high. Ride easy. Trust God. Neale Donald Walsch

View robelo's profile


62 posts in 2493 days

#12 posted 09-06-2011 05:42 AM

A great blog, I watch, I also want to begin, crafted from my Maloof rocker, greetings and thanks for sharing

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 3917 days

#13 posted 09-07-2011 02:34 AM

Thanks everyone thats following. Has anyone ever thought of doing this?
While cutting out the jig to hold the back slats for the rockers I was thinking I had to make more then one bending form if I ever wanted to finish this project after all you glue about seven laminations together eight times, thats a lot of glue up time! at least 3 days worth if you do 2 at a time so I thought what if I used an old inner tube cut length ways between each set of 7 laminations? I figure it would cut the glue up time in half as long as it did not change the arc or placement. Any thoughts on this?

View IrreverentJack's profile


727 posts in 2836 days

#14 posted 09-15-2011 06:55 PM

Just opinion here- I wouldn’t use inner tube, it will compress and change the arcs. Try wax paper or plastic wrap. If you plan it right, you could be busy on other parts while the daily glue up is curing, so it might not be a issue. -Jack

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 3917 days

#15 posted 09-15-2011 07:43 PM

I would not think 1/16” of rubber would make a difference? I have used plastic wrap on other glue ups, it was to thin and did not work well. Wax paper has worked for me but I am looking for something that can be reused. Maybe I will do a test and post the results here.

I am on a lay off right now but I have the seat blank made as well as all the jigs and templates. I have my move to the new shop coming up in two weeks so I am getting things ready for that. I will be posting the move as well as some videos of it.

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