Sam Maloof style rocking chair

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Forum topic by bkap posted 09-30-2014 11:43 AM 5128 views 12 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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246 posts in 3675 days

09-30-2014 11:43 AM

Colleague woodworkers!!!!

Ever interested in making the Maloof style rocking chairs?
Any woodworker can do it; it’s simple not easy, it does take a considerable amount of work although I have made them in one week, but it is simple if you follow step by step.

Let me dispel some of the hype associated with this labor. If you can make almost any woodworking project you can make a Maloof style rocker. You start with dimensioned lumber just like most projects. The contours are easy if you let your tools do the work for you. You don’t even need patterns, I can show you why.
The leg joints are the only nemesis and they can be easily made with perfect pressure fit joints.
I would be glad to help you make these rockers for free, nothing to buy. Just contact me and I will give you all the help you need. I love making these rockers and have made a few, see some pictures at

My health won’t let me give classes any longer so this is the next best solution for me; and you. In my neighborhood I have helped a number of my friends make their rockers.
Your wood will cost you, but the instructions are free, even the text is free and the patterns are easy to make. The only patterns needed are the back legs, back-braces and seat cutout and these I can show you how to easily make.

You can email me at or telephone me at 435-283-3193, just ask for the Rockingchairguy.

-- Rocking Chair Guy

17 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


115167 posts in 2995 days

#1 posted 09-30-2014 02:21 PM

Very generous offer Bill,I’m sorry to hear of your health problems.

-- Custom furniture

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246 posts in 3675 days

#2 posted 09-30-2014 06:00 PM

My pleasure to help other woodworkers. I lose nothing and you gain the knowledge to make heirloom rocker for your family, friends and business if you like.

-- Rocking Chair Guy

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Michael Dow

10 posts in 1069 days

#3 posted 10-10-2014 01:01 PM


We spoke on the phone a few weeks ago and you mentioned you were putting together some videos of your build process… Is there anything we can do to help out? Many of us have some pretty serious software/hardware for editing and putting together decent video work…


-- -Michael Dow, Houston, TX.

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246 posts in 3675 days

#4 posted 10-16-2014 03:44 PM

Maloof rocker; work in progress.

This is a Argentine Mesquite wood rocker with some test features. Normally it takes 17 parts to build this style rocker, this one has 29 parts as an experiment. In addition I made the laminated runners of, not just eight slices each, but also used short pieces glued up with full size stripe top and bottom. These runners have come out of the gluing fixture in great shape. So far all is working out just fine. I used two short pieces for individual rocker parts where I normally use one piece. The Headrest is also made using seven vertical pieces in place of one horizontal piece.

All this was done to see what the results would be if I used short, otherwise, unusable stock to test in what ways I could keep the cost down by using these short cutoff pieces. I have friends who want to make these rockers, but are limited on funds. I also have a LOT of, what my wife calls scrap, lumber that I have saved for other projects. I am surprised how well this rocker is coming out.

The runners as well as all the other segmented parts are as sturdy as ever. Wonderful modern adhesives be praised.

-- Rocking Chair Guy

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246 posts in 3675 days

#5 posted 10-17-2014 01:29 PM

Lets build a Sam Maloof style rocking chair! If you want to follow along with your own text, go to my web page.

I would like to explain that I am a woodworker with over 60 years of experience. The following information is good for woodworkers and all that you will need. This info is not intended as a fancy demonstration of drafting or book making. The text is detailed and complete with pictures, but little effort has been given to dress up the presentation with fancy foot work like blue print drawings or commercial pictures and printing. Everything you need is here to make a custom rocking chair. What else would you want?

Copyright material, written permission from Bill Kappel is required for reproduction or commercial use of any part of this information.

How to build a Custom Sculptured rocking chair

Word of warning: I may sadly through ignorance, error, foolishness or carelessness advance various notions, which could lead to some undesirable health risk or accident. You who make the choice to follow these instructions are reminded that as free independent individuals you are responsible to appraise yourselves of ALL applicable safety precautions. If you choose to proceed with these instructions be advised I cannot be held responsible for your safety.

I will take you through a complete detailed instruction of how to build a custom sculptured rocking chair. The instructions will cover every aspect of construction, as well as materials, tools, jigs, techniques, secrets of the trade, little known methods, short cuts, pictures and anything else helpful.

Because some may be novices I will give the reasoning along with the procedure for many of the undertakings.

When I make a mistake in grammar, spelling, syntax, punctuation or other clues to my English ignorance please forgive me. If I make a mistake in woodworking please correct me.

I am a self-taught woodworker so some of the techniques I use may not be familiar to you. My terminology will be close and descriptive, but not always what you may be familiar with using. I have been woodworking for over 60 years and still have all my fingers and never have I had a serious accident. So I do know a little something about the subject I will be discussing. I do know how to make, what I think are the finest rocking chairs ever made, the right way that will last much longer than any of us will live. In most cases I use the ‘Old World Masters’ way of doing things, but I do not use them to the detriment of time, material or energy. If I can do a job with less work, in less time, having the same or better outcome, I will use it without hesitation.

There is no desire to take any shortcuts in explanation or procedures. You will find the smallest detail discussed which is often the pertinent thing left out of commercial books, that makes a master work piece stand apart from the ordinary.

We will go through the same construction procedure I use for one of my rockers in the same sequence of manufacturing. A detail of how to upgrade or modify a particular unit of the rocker to what I think is an improvement or enhancement for attractiveness or functionally will be explained.

Lots of pictures are added to help in understanding or visualizing particular aspects of the manufacturing process.

An introduction into the philosophy of what makes a rocking chair unique among chairs is helpful. Also how to choose a rocker adds insight which is useful especially when making choices during design junctures.

Learning the “Dynamics of a Rocking Chair” is crucial to our beginning:

Dynamics of a Rocking Chair by
Bill Kappel
Unlike most chairs, rocking chairs by their very nature of construction are a moving entity. Because a rocking chair is made to rock there are unique factors to be considered in the manufacturing of a custom quality rocking chair. First, let us agree on some basics. The design or style of the rocking chair is pleasing, the materials used in construction are quality products and the method of construction is proven and time-honored mechanics. With these basics assured, let us examine the real reason why one rocking chair is a pleasant experience while others are adequate at best to exasperating.

An exasperating rocking chair would be one that walks while rocking or a “walking rocker”. Walking while rocking is an irritating experience some rocking chairs exhibit by advancing forward or backwards, maybe sideways, off their original placement, during the rocking action.

Another exasperating characteristic of some rocking chairs is their persistence in giving the sensation of throwing you forward out of the chair or too far backwards.

An adequate experience in rocking can be measured collectively by most rocking chairs on the market today. They feel okay, nice, comfortable, or sufficient, but this should not be what a quality buyer is obliged to tolerate, however, this is what most people settles for; a cookie cutter rocker.

There is another category that I call “balanced rocking” a sooo comfortable and good feeling experience of a perfect balanced rocking chair. This is the exceptional rocking chair that is of course sized correctly with proper ergonomics, but it is also engineered to give the ultimate rocking experience, which is perfect balance so that the rocking is almost effortless. Near effortless rocking is what I design into my rocking chairs. How is this done?

Sizing a chair to fit a particular individual or category of body types such as standard, small or petite, large or ample, is important, but lets face it almost anyone can sit in a chair. I am six foot three at two hundred and fifty pounds and I am quite comfortable in a petite, standard or large size. So what is important to a rocking chair?

There are several important considerations when building fine rocking chairs with the above given qualifiers.

The size of the rocking chair must be within the reasonable range of the owner and guests. Size is important as to width of the seat, the armrest placement and design, the seat clearance from the floor and the height of the headrest, etc. Once these dimensions are accurate the builder can calculate the other subtle proportions.

It is also important to consider that the head should have adequate support while relaxing. On an airplane when you want to rest one of the first things you do is ask for a pillow. Why a pillow? To give support to your head and bring it forward a little for more comfort. Many people while rocking come close to sleeping or total relaxing. To get this fully relaxed feeling your head should be supported and not thrown back beyond comfort.

Back supports with contour considerations are paramount objectives. A specially designed Backslat can add much pleasure to the rocking experience.

The arms of a rocking chair allow considerable latitude for design, but if one is realistic it must be considered that a well-designed arm will give comfort rather than adaptation to a style.

Style or appearance of the furniture should be pleasing. The look of the rocking chair is, of necessity, controlled by the function of rocking, but this still leaves room for variation and individual taste.

To my mind, the most critical characteristic of a rocking chair is balance. Balance is why you buy a rocking chair. After all, if we weren’t interested in rocking then a regular chair would do just fine. Rocking should not be tiresome to the occupant even after prolonged periods of rocking. Rocking should be almost effortless. Rocking should be a pleasant and a relaxing experience. To achieve this perfect balance of relaxed rocking the builder woodworker must have mastered certain dynamics about a rocking chair design. The “runner” is the part of a rocking chair that controls the movement of force applied. These “runners” must be made to match the dynamic uniqueness of each rocking chair.

Wood is never of a uniform density. Because the density of different woods varies from species to species, as well as within their own species, the woodworker must consider the balance point of each rocking chair made and shape the “runners” accordingly. A production “runner” manufactured in a high volume plant or one made on a jig in a one-man shop will not give the perfect balance for a quality rocking chair. If a standard “runner” is used the resulting rocking chair will only be of adequate quality, at best, and not the superior balance that a high-end rocking chair owner should demand.

Making chairs is the most challenging of all woodworking projects and making rocking chairs, the correct way, is the supreme challenge in woodworking.

Each of the custom rocking chairs built by Bill Kappel is constructed with this perfect balance or dynamics of the rocking chair in mind. Each rocking chair is balanced for the customer for an almost effortless rocking. No rocking walking or undue effort to annoy and distract from the pleasant experience of a well tuned rocking chair.

The next step in “How to build a rocking chair” is learning—-How to select a rocking chair
First, be sure the back braces are sturdy and do not move. A flexible back brace will fail at the wood-to-wood contact point. If wood moves on wood it will wear away wood at this point and eventually fail. Considering the several methods of the ‘Backslat’ construction the rigid slat is as pleasing to ones back without the complications of extermination and wood failure. I looked into this method of construction and decided if the rigid slat was good enough for Sam Maloof it is good enough for me besides I rejected the movable slat because it is unsound engineering. If you plan on having an heirloom rocking chair a flexible back slat will at some time become a crucial problem.
Next, the headrest or Headcrest is more comfortable if it supports the head. On an airplane if one wants to rest one usually ask for a pillow because our bodies are more relaxed with the head supported a bit and not thrown back in an uncomfortable position. The same holds true for a rocking chair that is why I make my Crown style rockers with this head support. Sometimes I do make a sweeping curve for the headrest (classic) to comply with existing furniture.
Another point to consider is the armrest. The armrest should be shaped in such a way so it will support the arm without cutting the circulation in the forearm. Many armrest styles have a hard inside edge that puts pressure on the forearm and cuts circulation if you rest your hands in your lap. My armrest (Sam Maloof style) is shaped to allow the hands to comfortably rest in the lap while the arms are supported at the elbow without an uncomfortable hard inside edge.
One of the choice features of a quality rocking chair is perfect balance. A rocking chair is a moving entity and special care must be taken to insure comfort at all stages in the rocking action. This balance feature is only achieved by years of experience and sound design modifications on each custom rocking chair made. Each rocking chair must be handmade to adjust for the density of wood used and design features adaptable to each patron. If a new mother and child is a major consideration, be sure the rocking chair has an ample seat size to accommodate mother, baby, pillow, blankets and reading material. Also, if the occupant would like to just curl up with a leg on the seat to read or daydream, as my daughters do, then this larger seat size is more comfortable. My reader rocker is made just for such an occasion. You can view the Reader Rocker on my web site under the gallery button.

With all this propaganda out of the way we can start looking at ‘how to build a custom rocking chair’.

-- Rocking Chair Guy

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Michael Dow

10 posts in 1069 days

#6 posted 10-17-2014 03:33 PM


I briefly looked around on your site for the tutorial to go with this posting… I couldn’t find the link, but it might be because my eyes suck. Can you post the link?



-- -Michael Dow, Houston, TX.

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246 posts in 3675 days

#7 posted 10-17-2014 11:38 PM

You can get the Free text which covers a lot of the material I will be posting or you can get the full seminar text for a pittance price of $12 just to keep the slackers away.

The info is on my web site.
Send me an email for the Free text and I will send the text back to you. If you want the full seminar text use PayPal.

-- Rocking Chair Guy

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246 posts in 3675 days

#8 posted 10-18-2014 05:41 PM

Building the Maloof style rocker continued.

With all this propaganda out of the way we can start looking at ‘how to build a custom rocking chair’.

Be sure to read all the instructions for each segment before you do more than rough cut your lumber; especially if you plan to use the upgrade seat and other components.

All aspects of a rocking chair construction will be included in this series with basic and critical elements of each function of a rocking chair manufacturing process. I will give you the secrets of the trade as we go along with short cuts, products and procedures to save time and improve quality with explanations of why I do what I do.

2.Lumber: You will need from 35 board feet to 100 board feet of a good hardwood to make one of these rockers. The board feet will depend on the species and grade of wood used. If you order lumber dimensioned and straight edged in a good grade you can make a rocker with 35 bf. If your lumber is natural edged with a lot of blemished or wasted bad areas you can use up 100 bf easily.
For your first rocker a good wood to use is some walnut variety. Walnut makes an excellent furniture wood. Walnut is forgiving and easy on your tools. A harder wood like Maple or Mesquite is more difficult to work with and requires more exacting abilities than walnut.

3.Generally 8/4 (2 inch) stock in 7” to 8” wide boards about 6’ to 8’ feet long will work well. You can reduce your cost if you can buy 2’ and 4’ end pieces. Sometimes when buying short stock it is difficult to match color and grain figuring. This rocker can be made with two and or four-foot boards. The seat, front legs, arms and headrest are made with two-foot boards. The back legs, the runners, and the backslats can all be cut from the four-foot boards. The backslats will have the most waste because they will seldom be over 30 inches long, If you layout all the parts on your longer lumber before cutting you can reduce waste considerably. I advise you to review the cut list before ordering.

4. Dry:
Make sure your lumber is dry. In most of the U.S.A. 6-8 percent if okay, but if you will be using the rocker in the West such as Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and possibly New Mexico, Wyoming, and Montana be sure to dry the seat and legs boards to about 5% percent. You can dry the lumber, as you like by making a small kiln. The seat and front legs are the critical parts to be dried to the ambient moisture content (MC) where the rocker is to be used. A small-insulated box to hold these parts or a plastic bag to be used in a sunny location will work. Use a small hot plate or an air conditioning unit will work. If you use a hot plate set it to low and let the parts acclimate until the desired MC is achieved. An air conditioner will also reduce the MC in the lumber. A plastic bag with the mentioned part sealed inside then set in a sunny place will draw moisture from the lumber. Do this over and over until the desired MC is reached. If your wood is sensitive to Ultra Violet light be sure to shade the plastic bag.

Note: Most moisture meters need to be calibrated to the density of the wood you will be using. Be sure to appraise yourself of the proper use of your meter.

5. Cut list: Seat: 5 each 2×4.25×21 Front legs: 2 each 2×3.25×24 Back legs: 2 each 2×7 x 48 Runners: 2 each 2×8 x 48 (if laminated) 1each 2×4 x 48 will do both Headrest: 1 each 2×8 x 24 (classic can be 10/4 or 12/4 stock) Backslats: 2 each 2×4 x 48 Arms: 2 each 2×4 x 24

a. The seat is the foundation of our rocking chair. Each seat is custom made to a size appropriate for the patron and guest. Here we start with a dilemma. What is appropriate for one group can be just adequate or poor for another. We must compromise if a general use of the rocker is considered likely.
b. The seat can be sized for women or men which will accommodate both, but will noticeably be preferred by one or the other depending on which gender is chosen. Since women preferred one specific category by about eighty percent of the time, let us begin with this seat dimension. I will explain the differences for other sizes later. (The female seat is about 19 inches square. A male seat is about 20 inches square. My Reader Rocker style is about 24 inches wide and up to 21 inches long in the seating area.) I will explain some subtle variations of these sizes later in the instructions.

7. Seat stock:
a. For the seat we will use 6/4 to 8/4 stock. Over 8/4 the seat begins to look too heavy and under 6/4 may not, to my mind, be durable enough for an heirloom, depending on the wood species. Some woodworkers will use less stock to flirt with delicacy, but I prefer to error with durability. Make up your own minds.

b. Cut five (5) boards 23 + inches long from 8/4 stock to be used for the seat. We will use five boards because in later lessons I will tell you how to upgrade the seat and a five-board seat will allow this procedure. I do make one or two board seats for my inexpensive line of rockers, but here we will deal with the best and, by the way, the easiest. Be sure to leave a little length for final cut. Four of the boards will be four and a half (4.5) inches wide and one will be five and a quarter (5.25) inches. This will give a seat of 23 + inches wide (we may reduce this size some later) and 23 inches long. The five-inch plus board is the centerboard. It is okay to vary these dimensions a bit such as 4.25 to 4.5 inches for the four boards and 4.75 to 5.5 inches for the centerboard. A seat from 21 to 22 inches wide is reasonable as a standard; If your subject is a little on the ample size lean towards the 22 to 24 inch width. If a female is the primary user a setting length of 19 inches may be best. Check the measurement, of the subject user, from the back of the knee to the back of the derriere to be sure of this setting area length.

c. Sometimes I use the table saw to make these cuts, but I prefer a bandsaw and joiner. Any other way to get these dimensions will be okay, just make sure that all sides are true and square. A little time spent on dimensioning the lumber correctly will save a lot of grief later.

d. Once you have the boards cut to size Again be sure each board is true and each edge is at right angles or square. Take the time to be sure this is done. It will pay you dividends later. If you have a thickness planer or a thickness sander (a thickness sander is easy to make using an inexpensive hand sander; there are good articles in wood magazines on how to build a thickness sander) true each board to the same thickness. Any size from 6/4 to 8/4 will be fine. The exact dimension is not too relevant because the seat is a unit by itself. Dimensioning can be done on a sanding jig or with a hand plane or an axe if you are capable.

8. NOTE: To upgrade to a contoured seat bottom: We will take each board and make a 3 to 5 degree bevel. (This will reduce the total width of the seat so allow for this. I generally use 4.5” for boards 2 & 4; then 4.75 for boards 1 5; and 5.25 for # 3) Start with number 3 or the center seat board and bevel the right and left sides towards the top of the seat. The top of this board will be less wide than the bottom. This bevel can be from 3 to 5 degrees. Just be sure once you set the bevel that you make the rest of the seat boards the same bevel angle. Mark all the seat boards first so you make no mistakes when you bevel. (above See figure) Take board # 4 and bevel the matching side to board # 3 so that you create a ( V ) shape between the two boards. In other wards bevel the # 3 board matting edge of # 4 board to the
top. Then bevel the other side of # 4 board or the matting edge to # 5 board to the bottom. Your # 4 board will look something like this ( / / ) these bevels are at angles to the seat top and bottom, but parallel to each other. Take # 2 board and make it a reverse of # 4 board so that it also has a ( V ) at interface with # 3 board and a parallel bevel at interface with # 1 board ( ∖ ∖ ) . Take # 1 board and bevel only the inside edge, or interface with # 2 board, so as to make an upside down ^ with # 2 board. Do the same for # 5 board matting surface with # 4 board ^. When you clamp these boards together the gaps will close giving a contoured bottom. (See figure)

e. Once the five boards are ‘true’ we can think about how to secure them together. Sometimes I use biscuits, but most of the time I use dowels. I do use some kind of mechanical help because as I said before “this is the foundation” and I don’t like taking chances. Some woods have a tendency for surprises.

f. Lay all five boards on a flat surface and match the grain of the wood to your liking realizing the topside of the seat will be shaped or carved out so the figure in the wood will vary from what you see. Try to anticipate which side of the board will look best when finished. Identify each board on the front end with a number. I usually begin at the left and mark them 1,2,3,4,5. Number 3 being the centerboard.

-- Rocking Chair Guy

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#9 posted 10-22-2014 11:51 PM

Continuing Maloof style rocker: There are several pictures not shown on this page, but are available in my text.

9. *Seminar alternate seat info. If you plan using the contoured seat bottom the mechanical assist is a little different. For biscuits it is the same except do not be worried that the biscuit machine will not insert flush with the edge of the board. There is enough slop in the biscuit cut to allow the biscuit to seat. If the biscuit does not fully insert during dry clamp-up just re-cut the slot using a larger slot size or slightly offsetting the next plunge, which will enlarge the slot.

a. If you are using dowels you must make sure each board-matting surface to be drilled is perpendicular to the drill bit. If this is done correctly when the boards are clamped the dowel holes will align with the interface surface of the next board. If you make an error and a gap appears in the boards when dry clamped just enlarge the holes until the gat disappears. These larger holes will be filled with epoxy later and not visible. Use ½ x 2 inches dowels. Drill dowel holes using a 13 or 14 mm bit. This will give a little slop to help with alignment. If you try to use a ½ bit you must be perfect with your setup, which will gain you no benefit except a bit of grief. The epoxy used will fill all the air spaces of a loose fit so the seat will be as sturdy as a perfect fit dowel. Also dowels do not come uniform sizes no matter what the manufactures say and they will swell, in some climates, if not protected adequately.
b. (See figure) In the figure below the drill table has been adjusted for the seat board # 3 to a 3 degree bevel so as to be perpendicular to the drill bit.

10. If you have a biscuit joiner set it for the largest size biscuit it will take. Set the depth stop for (½) one-half inch. A note here; when you use the biscuit jointer, be sure to keep it firm to the board when making the slot. A little movement is likely if you get careless. If the tool does move you will have to spend time cleaning up the slot and this is wasted time.

11. Align all five boards with the ends square on a table saw- table or some other flat surface. Mark the bottom of all boards using a straight edge six (6) inches from each end and also at the center of the seat length or about (10 ½ ) inches. This gives you three locations for biscuits, dowels or splines to eventually be placed. Now take each board (using an adjustable square is handy) and mark all the mating surfaces by extending these three lines around the boards. Next; from the bottom side of each board intersect these mating surface lines with a mark (½) one-half of an inch from the bottom side of the board. This is easily done using a sliding square set at ½ inch. As you move the square along the bottom of the board it will give you the desired ½ distance each time it passes one of your three lines. The slot or hole will be cut and the biscuit; dowel or spline will be placed at this ½ location from the bottom at all three locations. Be sure you mark from the bottom.

Double-check your work. Be sure you have marked ½ from the bottom.

12. Go-ahead and make your slots or holes as the case may be. Rest your slot-cutting tool on the bottom of the board and align it with the lines you have drawn. If you use a router for this operation be sure to test your slots in scrap wood before you work on your seat boards. Once the slots are cut check each slot for loose material and clean the slot if necessary. If bits of material are left here the glue joint will not close and the job will look substandard. Take time to be sure these surfaces are true and clean.

13. Place biscuits or dowels in all the cut slots or holes (be sure to check the biscuits for snags) and place all five boards in order with the (number 3) board in the center. Dry clamp all five boards across the width and inspect closely all mating surfaces to be sure the biscuit slots or dowel holes are cut correctly so the biscuit or dowel or loose material will not interfere with a good joint.

14. Once you are convinced the joints will mate properly you are ready to mark the seat for cutout areas.

15. Templates seat area:
a. This may be difficult to explain, but I will try. It is best to make a template if you plan to make more than one rocker. If you can see into the future and plan to make more than one rocker take the time now to make these templates.

b. The first template is used to outline the seat top for coping with the ‘shaped’ sitting area. To make all templates use a stiff substance such as cardboard, plywood or hardboard. First, outline the seat exterior. Next, two inches in from each side draw a line the length of the template. Across the back draw a line three inches in. You now have the working area to draw a pleasing contour for the seating area. It would be best to draw one side of the seating contour then flip the template over to draw the other side of the seat. This keeps the contour symmetrical. You can make the transition from side to back with a sweeping curve or more like some other seats you have seen and prefer. Generally the side will gradually go from 2 inches at the front to about 2 ½ inches about 5 to 6 inches from the back end. A 7 or 8 inch round lid of some kind could make a nice radius for the corner. Once you have completed the seat contour template mark the seat boards while they are still dry clamped. The seat template will look something like this posted picture. This template is square although it may appear to diminish to the horizon line, but don’t let that bother you. Note: the front ends have a bit of a radius, which comes in handy later.

c. Make this front curve on the seat as best appealing to you. Make sure to cut this curve after you mark the edge of each board and before you cut the edge of the seat boards. Mark from center to one side of the seat then flip the template and mark the other side. The depth of the sweep of this cure is about one inch.

16. The two templates for the seat board side cutouts are made one for the centerboard (3) and one for boards (1,2) and (4,5). Board 3 will be made without a center keel. I will explain the keel process later for another style of rocker. Use the same type of template material and cut two pieces 2×21 inches.

-- Rocking Chair Guy

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246 posts in 3675 days

#10 posted 10-25-2014 02:28 PM

Maloof style rocker… continued. you can see the pictures on my seminar text, go to my web site for availability.

17. Take one piece and mark it left end; right end; top and bottom. Now from the left end make a mark 3 inches in. Then at 4 ½ inches from the left end make a mark at 7/8 up from the bottom at this 4-½ location. At 12 and 16 inches from the left end make marks 1 7/8 up from the bottom. From the right end make a mark up from the bottom ¾ of an inch. Starting from the left, draw a straight line to each of these marks. You have now the basic for the side of the number 3 board. To contour these marks, start at the left using a 7 inch radius then connect with a sweeping line to the bottom of the seat cutout which stops at the 4 ½ inch mark. From this 4 ½ inch mark draw a gentle curved line up to intersect with the 12 inch mark. At the 16-inch mark continue a curved line down to the 3/4 mark. Clean up the whole contour by making a nice curved line intersecting with all the marks.

A. Do not be timid when making this personal adaptation. We are making a sculptured work so let your natural creative instinct flourish. If you stay within propriety there are no mistakes. Identify this template as number #3. The template will look something like this.

B. Sometimes I fashion a keel in # 3 board. If you plan to make a keel then while you are tracing the # 3 template be sure to exit, to the top, about 6 or 8 inches before the front end of the template. This will give the extra wood necessary to shape the keel.

18. I show both templates so you know you are on the right track before you make this second one. Take the second piece of material you cut 2×21 and make a mark at the top 4 ½ inches from the left. Make a second mark at 6 ½ inches from the left and 1 1/8 inches from the bottom. Make a mark from the left at 14 ½ inches and up from the bottom 1 7/16. Again draw a line starting at the left connecting all marks. Use the 7-inch radius between the 4 ½ and 6 ½ inch marks. Free hand a nice curved line connecting the rest of the marks. Mark this template with numbers 2&4 and 1&5

19. Use this template to mark the mating sides of seat boards 2&4; 1&5. Note, do not mark the outside of boards 1 and 5 which constitute the outside of the seat. We don’t want the possibility of a mistaken cut here.

20. Seat boards 1 & 5: Leg joint area: Take boards 1 and 5 and mark them, on the outside edge, at least 2 or 2 ¼ inches form the front edge of the seat. Mark the front leg joint area 2 3/8 wide and one or 1 &1/4 inches deep. Then make a mark13 ¾ from this last front leg mark or about 4 5/8 from the front of the board. At the 13 ¾ mark be sure you have at least 3 inches or more from the back of the seat. This back leg joint cut will be about 3 inches deep and 3 inches long. (For contoured seat; the front leg joint is to be 1 ¼ deep and the back leg joint is 3 ½ deep and no less than 3 inches long. About ½ of material will be wasted off the outer seat edge later.) Set your table saw blade to 3 inches height if possible; you may use a handsaw, bandsaw, router or you can chisel this wood to complete the job. Start at the 3-inch mark at the back of the board and waste-out at least 3 inches of wood to the back end of the board, which will be for the back leg joint area. Next, set the blade height to one inch (1.00”) or (1 ½ for a contoured seat). Start at the 2 ( or 2 ¼ ) inch mark at the front of the board and waste-out 2 3/8 inches of wood going towards the back of the board. This is for the front leg joint. All this can be done in other ways if necessary. Make both 1 and 5 boards the same. If you feel confident place both boards together to make these cuts. Also, if possible it is handy to waste most of the wood with a bandsaw first. You can true up these cuts with a router and simple jig later (seminar class students; be sure to make a copy of this jig while in my shop). Using a square check these cuts to be sure all surfaces are at right angles to each other. A small error here will multiply into an unwanted visible embarrassment later. The size of cut is not as important as the trueness of the cut. Do not use the front leg cutout dimension of 2.75 rather use 2 3/8.

21. Take boards 1 & 5 and drill a ¼ dowel hole in the front leg joint area. Find the center of the front leg joint and drill a hole about one inch deep. This hole is helpful during glue-up and is worth the extra time to drill. (Seminar class students can make a copy of the shop jig I use to locate this hole. This jig is also useful if you are making the ranch front leg without a tongue and groove.)

21. After you have cut all seat boards for the front contour (see 15 c) you can bandsaw the edge of boards 2,3,&4. (for contoured seat; be sure to only cut the one edge of the seat board which leans toward the bandsaw blade.(see picture) If you try to cut the other edge you will waste too much wood towards the center of the board. Also be sure to start your cut where the seat outline is marked on the top side of the board or again you will cut too much of the seat. The uncut areas or other side of the boards will be ground to their respective lines later.)

23. This next step can best to done with a router although it can be hand chiseled. You can get an inexpensive router form Harbor Freights for about $40 dollars. They have a 1-½ hp plunge router on sale at times, which will do the job just fine and it comes with the attachments such as an edge guide and ¼ and ½ bit collets.

-- Rocking Chair Guy

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246 posts in 3675 days

#11 posted 10-30-2014 12:55 AM

Still working on the Maloof style rocker seat
Can’t seem to post the new text for the seat, will try again soon.

If you want the text go to my web site and see info on how to get same.

-- Rocking Chair Guy

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8 posts in 1414 days

#12 posted 11-06-2014 12:12 AM

I’d also love to get the full text but cannot find it on your web page. Any chance you can link us to it?

Thank you very much for sharing.

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246 posts in 3675 days

#13 posted 11-06-2014 02:37 PM

To JMOTT and all the others who are lost in the maze of my web site at If you are looking for the FREE Maloof style rocking chair text or the full seminar text and full size patterns go to my web site and click on “Supplies” there you will find how to get same.

Sorry about this mix up.

See the following for more of the seat info on building the rocker. ”I got it to post” but no pictures.

24. Use a (half inch) ½ inch rabbit bit and set the cut depth to about (half inch) ½ inch. (Note; if your seat board is less than 2 inches thick you will need to make the appropriate adjustments to this depth of cut so that the combined two rabbit cuts are about equal to the material not cut.) Set the router on top of board #1 and rabbit cut the three-inch back leg cutout you made at the end of the board. Do this on the bottom also. Take board #5 and do the same thing. Make this rabbit cut on the top and bottom of the boards. You will make a right angle turn following this 3 inch cut which will leave a nice ½ inch radius in the corner. Be careful at the corner. If you move the router too fast when the bearing hits the opposing side the router can tip in the direction you are moving just a bit which will increase the radius at the corner. This will be a problem later when you fit the back leg to this joint. Also be sure to move the router fast enough to keep from burning the wood. Experimentation is helpful if you have never tried this before. Now use the same method to rabbit cut the front leg joint area. It is helpful to place boards 1 & 5 facing each other and align the joint areas to match face to face when cutting these rabbit cuts. This will give more surface to support the router base. This procedure will stop router tear-out because the facing board will match and the router will pass from one board to the other without tear-out. (if you are making a contoured seat there is no need to worry about tear-out because you will waste off ½ later which should be enough to catch any tear-out).

*This is a method for a perfect joint. Make the seat to leg joints as described then using the table saw cut off just made, rabbit protrusions to, no less than 1& ¼ so they are flush with the seat 3” cutout. You will also rout the legs considering this new feature. The legs will accommodate the seat with a perfectly match joint area. This area will be as strong as ever, but much easier to make a perfect fit. On the inside of the joint if one uses epoxy, being a good filler, the joint support is not compromised and can have more room for learning.

The leg joint is the most challenging part of making the Maloof style rocker because all the mating surfaces are visible the way Maloof finished the joint. Using this new method will maintain the strength of the joint while allowing a perfect fit as one advances in using the original look if desired later.

25. Note: I do not recommend the Maloof signature 3 or 5 degree bit sets being advertised and sold to make this joint. They make a sloppy joint and are less than adequate. To use these bit sets, which are expensive, you will have to do some hand chisel work to clean up the radius or use a stand off spacer to stop the applicable bit short of the radius. This can be tricky and time consuming. Anyway I will instruct you with a much easier and better way to do this joint when we get to the back leg construction.

Double check all the joint surfaces to be sure they are parallel, square and true. Make adjustments now if there is a problem.

26. Note: see note 20 and do not use the front leg cutout dimension of 2.75 rather use 2 3/8. The 2.75 cutout is for another type leg than the one I am giving instructions for now.

27. Note: Advance information usually reserved for my seminars. Each front leg joint has 40 mating surfaces and 31 critical touch points, ( if you have also used the rabbit cutter method in the front leg joint area). Each back leg joint has 32 mating surfaces and 16 critical touch points. The touch points are the visible joint areas once the unit is assembled. With this many interface surfaces some kind of aid seems advisable to say the least. Unless one has exceptional eye hand coordination cutting these joints with a chisel would be out of the question. A jig comes to mind, but the very nature of a jig also introduces its own limitations. Because a jig is an outside influence one must be careful of the jig’s own restrictions. That is; if the jig is not made perfect the joint cannot be perfect or if the jig setup is out of index the possibility exist the joint will not match at some critical point or points. This is all assuming your stock is dimensioned properly.

a. Depending on your shop setup and or tool selection a variety of methods using jigs, special tools, or alternate procedures could produce a perfect joint. For instance; one method is to use a guide- plate and pattern router bit to cut the back leg right angle cutout and or rabbit areas top and bottom. As you can see a guide- plate (some material about ¾ thick or so large enough to cut a three inch right angle notch out of one corner and still support the router while making the three inch right angle cut in the seat board) can be helpful as well a exasperating. The dilemma is how do you index the guide plate top and bottom so the rabbit cuts are symmetrical? One answer is to use the guide- plate to cut the back leg seat cutout then use a rabbit bit to make the rabbit cuts. This will eliminate the guide-plate indexing problem for the rabbit cut because the control is now the seat board cutout, not the guide plate.

b. Another method is to use the table saw to cut the seat board both front and back leg areas. Again we introduce an outside element. The table saw blade may not be perpendicular to the saw table or a poorly supported blade could wobble making alignment difficult. Also you will now be moving the stock, which in itself can create a problem. Even with the saw setup properly and a good guide fence, unless you have a dedicated saw, you must index the saw for each cut. With some commercial saws this is easy, but some of you are using hobby equipment, which cannot be expected to produce the results desired. The table saw is a robust aggressive tool and could be considered Overkill unless you are limited in tool selection.

c. An additional plausible solution is to use another variety of simple shop built jig and a rabbit bit to make these leg joint cuts. This jig can be used to make the front leg joint cut in the seat board and the joint cuts in both the front and back legs. You can make this jig in a short time using less than one board foot of shop scrap material. I demonstrate this jig in my seminars.

d. There are several other methods to accomplish this exacting procedure. I have given the basics and enough to make your first rocker.

28. Seat cutout:
29. Cut the seat boards to eliminate as much material as possible before grinding. Being able to remove so much waste material with a bandsaw is one happy reason why we use a five-board seat. (see # 22 for contoured seat) Take board #3 and turn it edgewise and cut it on the band saw to the line you have marked. Take board #2 and #4 and do the same. NOTE: be sure to check that you do not start the cut outside of the seating area as marked on top. The bandsaw cut must be short of the line drawn that designates the seating area. The balance of the wood will be ground out later. If you do not have a bandsaw use a grinder. You can get a very cheap ($9 to $18) 4-inch right angle grinder at Harbor Freights by web order or catalog. They also sell adequate grinding disks. Use a grinding disk as coarse as possible (15,36,60)

Look closely at the front top of the board and you will see the top seat outline is inside or short of the side contour. Be sure to cut the top contour first; this will leave enough material thickness at the leading edge of the seat to be shaped later.
mandrel with a ¼ shank in sizes ¾; 1; and 1 ½ diameter. All these are available from lots of woodworking supply houses. I use this donut grinder on my 4-inch grinder. It will hog out a lot of material so be careful to stay away from final surfaces. You will be leveling with a 7-inch disk sander also with your orbital sander so just shape the areas with this aggressive grinder.

A. Take boards 1 and 5 and grind out the material from the top to the inside lines. I use the ‘donut coarse Kutzall grinding wheel’ I also use the Kutzall sleeves for the ½ x 2 inch

B. For now set your grinder at an angle that will waste the wood on a straight line from the top of the board to the marked contour line in the center of the board. This will give you the depth of cut when the seat is glued so you can grind the remainder of the seat knowing how deep to go. Stop just short of the lines drawn so you can tune up the contours later.

C. Note: if you can’t use a bandsaw to eliminate most of the wood you can use drilled holes to guide your grinding. From the topside drill guide holes to the contour depth drawn on the side of each seat board. Measure as many locations as you think you will need to guide your grinding then drill holes to the applicable depth. Be sure to calculate the drill depth by including the drill spur. You do not want little holes all over your finished seat.

30. Gluing the seat boards: You can use TiteBond number III or epoxy. I prefer epoxy T88 a System Three product. This particular epoxy (T88) is a great filler as well as a bonding agent. It has a fairly high viscosity somewhat like thick honey. The seat is a good place for this brand of epoxy. It has a slight amber color when cured. You can find it at

31. Place something on your gluing surface to catch any droppings. It is handy to clamp a 4×4x18 long board to this surface for a gluing caddy. (If you are making a contoured seat glue boards 2,3, & 4 only. We will glue boards 1 & 5 to this group of seat boards once these are dry. We do this because clamping all five contoured boards can be exasperating. By gluing 1 & 5 after the first three are dry allows for a more stable platform to glue 1 & 5 too. Only glue 1 & 5 after the leg joints are cut and true. If you are using a rabbit router bit to make a tenon and mortis joint be sure this joint is made first. Also cut 1 & 5 from the back leg joint, leaving about 2 inches of this joint for the leg width to fit into later, to the front leg joint area. This is to contour the seat side. If you forget to do this now it can be done on a bandsaw after all seat boards are glued.) (See figure) * A. Place board 1 against this caddy with the mating surface facing up; the seating area facing out and clamp it edge wise. Epoxy the mating surface with a good amount in the biscuit slots or dowel holes. Be sure the entire mating surface is covered with epoxy (a flat Popsicle stick is a good tool for this procedure. I buy them by the box). Put all three biscuits or dowels in their slots or holes moving them back and forth to insure adequate coating. If you used enough epoxy it should squeeze out when the biscuit is inserted. Use the excess epoxy to coat the exposed portion of the biscuit. Now coat board #2 with epoxy on the mating surface to board #1 only. Be sure to put epoxy in the biscuit slots. Place #2 on to #1 then epoxy the mating surface to receive #3 board. Continue this procedure for all the boards.

B. If your gluing surface is adaptable you can clamp the seat, as it is set-up with the caddy. If your table will not accommodate clamping in this position them lower the seat as a unit onto a protected surface and clamp it using at least three clamps one at each end and one in the middle. The two end clamps should be facing one side with the third clamp on the opposite side. Three clamps would be a minimum, but four would be better. Be sure to keep the clamps away from your leg joint areas so the machined joint will not be damaged.

32. Once the seat is glued and dry we will give the seat a little class by shaping the front edge. If you have not already done this before. (Look at the picture of the seat to orientate yourself for this procedure # 15) This job is best done with a bandsaw, but a coping saw, chisel, grinder, jigsaw or a good set of teeth will do. Make yourself a simple template by drawing a curved line from one front edge of the seat to the center of the front of the seat. This curve can go about 7/8 to one inch towards the back of the seat at its maximum. A pleasing curve is all that is necessary. There is no right or wrong here only appealing. If you transfer this curve to a template material you can mark the other side of the seat symmetrically. Now cut, grind, saw or chew out the unwanted wood.

33. Seat grinding & sanding:
A. With your seat glued-up and the front contoured you are now ready to do the final shaping. Find a flat table, bench or something stable to support the seat while you work on it. Some kind of material (rug, foam rubber or whatever) that will protect the seat is advisable. I use rug padding and commercial rug scraps for this purpose. I use my table saw table with a 6’ x 6’ rug scrap to cushion my rocker parts while I work on them. I also have other smaller pieces used at other location that I work at in the shop. Sears has an inexpensive; (about $40 dollars) 7 inch right angle grinder that will do an excellent job at shaping and leveling. This tool will remove a lot of material quickly while somewhat leveling the surface when using their coarse disk. We will use this tool on the seat; arms and headrest so I suggest you invest in one. Harbor Freights may also have a similar tool. The Sears grinder has two speeds each of which are helpful and the tool comes with a year guarantee. You can also use a hand plane, ax, scrapers, or hand rasps for some of this work. If you have wasted most of the seat board material with the bandsaw life will be much happier doing this chore.

B. You can start on the back of the seat using whichever tool you prefer to clean up the residue epoxy and leveling the five boards. I use the 7-inch grinder with a coarse disk. You are likely to see a slight miss match in the height of the seat board. This is normal so don’t worry. It you use the grinder carefully use it here being watchful not to leave deep grind marks beyond leveling the boards. Be particularly sensitive about the leg joint cutout areas.

C. Once you are satisfied the bottom is level and the leg joint areas are undamaged you can start removing the tool and grind marks by using a 5 inch orbital sander. I usually have half a dozen of these sanders handy with varying grades of sandpaper, but one sander will do. Again the Sears tool is adequate for a couple rockers. It is the least expensive initially that I have seen and does carry a year guarantee. It does vibrate more than some of the more expensive brands and will wear out sooner. I use the Makita brand because it is a smooth running sander, but most of all it has the lowest profile. I do use an air sander, but prefer the electric models because of mobility. I do a lot of sculpturing with this sander, sometime in very tight spots. It is the single most used tool in my shop.

D. Grinding creates lots of dust so beeee sure to have breathing protection. A surgical mask from a dental supply house is what I use for a modicum of protection with some comfort. They come with a bendable wire that can be shaped over the bridge of the nose to help keep your glasses from fogging. They are inexpensive and, to my mind, the best thing going. If you have a vacuum and filter system to clear the dust from the air it could to put to good use. A downdraft table would be a plus. Any and everything to keep the air clean is worth considering. Some woods are noxious to some people. I have a reaction to Myrtle wood. I can only make one rocker at a time using this wood before my forearms start to show signs of irritation. There are woods in this old world that are very toxic or even deadly to some people.

E. Using the orbital sander to do several jobs will be a reality as we go along. Place coarse grit, such as 36, 60 or 80, sanding pad on your sander. Sand with a continuous movement until you think the surface is level. There are two ways to be satisfied with your work. One is by sight and the other is by feel. Notice I said feel not touch. You must use both to arrive at a satisfying conclusion. If sight and feel are pleased the work is correct. These rockers are not just a matter of mathematics they are a work of inspiration.

F. With the bottom rough sanded and level turn the seat over and begin the imagination process to sculpture out the seating area. At first this may seem baffling. Just like eating an elephant we take one part at a time. Board # 3 will have the contoured cutout defining the bottom of the sanding area. Boards # 2 & 4 will have excess wood at the mating surface to # 3 that is obvious it should be removed. Start removing this wood being careful to stay above all previously contoured surfaces. (See pictures) I sometimes start at the back of the seating area. It is much easer to identify the contour starting here. When you get to # 1 & 5 boards stop at the defined cutout line until you have finished wasting boards 2,3,&4. Once the center portion of the seating area is defined you will be able to visualize a pleasing contour for boards 1 & 5. I have posted two pictures to help with this mental image. Note: the front curved area I wrote about earlier. Forget the center keel and the different style front leg notches for now. Note: the back curve on these seats is not identical. It is not necessary to have a cookie cutter style if you are not making several matching chairs. I have never made identical rockers, similar yes, but never an attempt at identical.

G. You may have a question about the curved front edges as shown in this picture. If you can visualize this corner that is best, but if not take a look at these next pictures and try to duplicate the contour until you are satisfied. Again there is no right or wrong here.

H. We still have work to do on this seat so don’t worry about the details in these pictures not addressed in any of the above text. Remember you are shaping and leveling now with the sanding and finishing to come later. Also the pictures I use are of rockers I am making now and not necessarily the one I am explaining in this beginning text. These alternatives will be explained later (go to the contoured seat info.).

J. The seat is ready, with a lot of work to come, to set aside and work on the legs.

K. Note: when shaping and leveling the seating area, in the top of the seat, be sure to workout all the machine marks by using your orbital sander in a continuous motion. Do not attempt to sand-out marks by undue pressure at the location of the mark. This will leave a cupped area, which will become a problem later. Resist the temptation to hurriedly remove these marks. Take it slow and gradually sand in a larger area to bring all the material to a level with the deepest mark. Sight is often not a reliable barometer because lighting can be inadequate so also use feel to guide your work. Once the final finish is applied and the lighting is varied any problems will jump out necessitating a rework, which can be time consuming and annoying. Take the time now and do it right at this point. This is another place that ‘good enough’ is not good enough.

-- Rocking Chair Guy

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246 posts in 3675 days

#14 posted 11-06-2014 02:53 PM

Here are some images that should have been posted in the proceeding post. My falt, I am just a woodworker and not a computer guy.

-- Rocking Chair Guy

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246 posts in 3675 days

#15 posted 11-08-2014 04:06 PM

To JMOTT if you are still having trouble finding my Free Text just send me an email and I will send it to you. My email is
Any other woodworker how want this text send me an email requesting same.

-- Rocking Chair Guy

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