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Sometimes you just want to challenge yourself. Such is the case with my latest project. A Maloof inspired rocking chair. This has been on my "bucket" list for sometime and I finally got a good reason to build one. This will be for a friends son's wedding gift in the spring.

As with just about all my projects, I did a great deal of research. A Maloof rocker was a given, but just who's plans was I going to use? In the end it came down to
A Charles Brock interpretation:
MALOOF INSPIRED ROCKER Instructional DVD, Book and Rocker Patterns - Home
Between the plans, a step by step book and a couple of DVD's I should have all my bases covered as far as the basic construction of the rocker goes. Cost of the plans was about 90 bucks. Not cheap, but considering what all I got, I figure it to be a fair price to pay. I ordered em up and they arrived quickly. First thing I did was open up the paper template guides that came with the purchase. Really kinda rough was my first impression. I guess I was thinking more along the lines of blueprints. This is however a "sculptured" chair. Just about everything gets shaped to some extent. The templates are just a guide, cut em close and go from there. Read over the book and viewed the rocker DVD. All good stuff. Well written, well explained. So should be easy enough, as easy enough goes *L* to follow along with. The 2nd DVD is on shaping the rocker. That part I am really looking forward to. This is where you kinda add your own twist to the project if you like. A couple areas of the construction allow you to do that to some extent, but I"m not sure I wanna fiddle around too much. Especially considering what I paid for the lumber to do this project. 65bf of 10/4 figured cherry. I wanted some really NICE wood for this project. This one is special for a couple of reasons and wood choice was important. When I have to have the right wood for a project, I go to one place: Horizon Wood Products in Kersey Pa.. These boys are a good 3 hr drive away, but I have never been disappointed in anything I've gotten from there. Great guys to deal with. Outstanding facility that is just immaculate. I could walk around this place all day. The wood is just incredible. You'd have to see it to believe it. Pricing is a bit on the high side, however I've never had reason to complain.
Horizon Evolutions: Unique American Hardwood For Sale
After a couple of emails regarding the last chess table I posted, I thought maybe Ill give step by step photo shoot a try. So bear with me. If there is interest I'll keep it going throughout the entire project, if not, I'll let it fade away and just hit ya up with the end result.
Here are a few pictures of the rough cut 10/4 after getting it home. I let it sit a few days to acclimate before I began carving it up. 4 boards, 8-9' long, 10-14"s wide. The last couple pics give you an idea of what you can expect when you go out and buy lumber like this. It may look like alot of wood when you get started, but once you start breaking it down, cutting away checks and sap wood..squaring it up, its amazing sometimes what you got left.
 

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Bill, after seeing the chess table, I am sure the rocker will become a family heirloom in very short time.....
 

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Please keep the posts coming. I'm sure you will attract a large following. I was surprised to see the wood came with bark and I noted quite a curve in one of the pieces. When I buy raw wood it is roughly squared up so it's easier to figure how much is needed and the cost. Is it common to buy wood this rough in your area or is this unique to that mill? Do they factor out the curves in pricing?
I have the same model table saw as you. I quite like it.
 

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I certainly envy your access to wood like that Bill.
 

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Thanks for the link Bill as I am a big fan of Sam Maloof, I will be very happy to watch your progress. Rest in Peace Sam. Neville
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks James... this one ought to be alot of fun...and one heck of a challenge:) as for "very short time..." I dunno...with the holidays coming up, I've got several other irons in the fire sort-to-speak..I guess the good news is that the sawdust will be flying around here for at least the next several months... :)

Bill, after seeing the chess table, I am sure the rocker will become a family heirloom in very short time.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Dennis... good catch on the live edge wood. A good deal of the wood sold up at Horizon is sold live edge. Actually, originally this is what I wanted. My original plan was to use the sapwood on the outside edges of the armrests and headrest, then on both outter edges of the seat. Unfortunately once I started to mill things up, I began to find a good deal of hair line checks in the sapwood. So as it stands right now, I may go with a glueup between halfs with either a maple or walnut to give the rocker a little more flare.
As for the curves, Sometimes ya gotta go with what they got *L*. All four boards had a good curve to em. All four boards were consecutive from the same tree. All of this was factored into the price of the wood when I came to terms with the seller.
There is good and bad to buying wood like this, you can save a bit on bf costs because the mill has spent less time milling the wood square...the bad is you can run into alot of 'hidden' defects if you don't do a proper inspection of the wood. These boards have a very minimal amount of pitch, pith isn't a issue and not a knot to be found. Figure is consistent throughout the set. A good size check on one end *pictured*..and a few checks in the edges that run only a few inches, found one that ran a little under 6"s and I'll be able to work around that.
This mill offers both live edge and milled 4S.. just depends on what you want. Live edge has become quite a popular medium to work with of late. When pricing out the boards, they take into account any defects that might appear, checks, knots, pith etc. and make allowences. Typically milled 4S is the norm. Thats what I go with,, this project was a exception.

The old craftsman hybrid...:) she's been a solid performer over the years. and I do put it to the test quite often. This 10/4 cherry pushes its limits...I"ve done 12/4 maple and thought I was going to burn her up *L*...ya gotta know you limits I suppose..but all in all, for the money, a great saw.


Please keep the posts coming. I'm sure you will attract a large following. I was surprised to see the wood came with bark and I noted quite a curve in one of the pieces. When I buy raw wood it is roughly squared up so it's easier to figure how much is needed and the cost. Is it common to buy wood this rough in your area or is this unique to that mill? Do they factor out the curves in pricing?
I have the same model table saw as you. I quite like it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hey Charles,,, its out there, you just gotta be willing to go after it..this was a good 6+ hour drive round trip.....nice thing was the wife and I both enjoy the fall and love to go and see the leaves changing. I talked her into taking the day off and go with me....so everything kinda worked out just fine...a beautiful drive into central Pa., picked up some great wood and got to see more of the mill and a fine diner to end the day... everybody was happy, happy, happy :)

I certainly envy your access to wood like that Bill.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'll be looking forward to your comments Neville!!! Yes, Maloof set a very high bar during his career. He created some absolutely stunning designs to say least. He was one of those guys who I would have loved to just grab a chair and sit in the back of the room and watch him work.


Thanks for the link Bill as I am a big fan of Sam Maloof, I will be very happy to watch your progress. Rest in Peace Sam. Neville
 

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Bill, thanks for the detailed reply on my wood questions. It's interesting to see how things vary from one place to the next. Looking forward to your progress.
 

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Hey Charles,,, its out there, you just gotta be willing to go after it..this was a good 6+ hour drive round trip.....nice thing was the wife and I both enjoy the fall and love to go and see the leaves changing. I talked her into taking the day off and go with me....so everything kinda worked out just fine...a beautiful drive into central Pa., picked up some great wood and got to see more of the mill and a fine diner to end the day... everybody was happy, happy, happy :)
The closest places for me would be Oregon and maybe Washington, 2 days each way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Seriously, 2 days each way? Ghezzzz, and I thought i had made a trek for just a 6 hr. round tripper.


The closest places for me would be Oregon and maybe Washington, 2 days each way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Let the fun begin :)

Made some time to get to rippin. Gave the boards a good hard looking over, decided what I wanted to cut from which board and began taking em apart. First was getting the right lengths of roughcut sawn. This was accomplished with a good ole fashioned crappy handsaw. *LOL* I must say however, that since pretty at this point wasn't a real concern, the old Stanley 20" or something multipurpose handyman clearance bin ain't nuttin to brag about handsaw done a fine job!! From there I took the pieces to jointer just to get a straight edge reference on one side. Since the boards were all relatively flat <<and I use the term loosely here>> I felt it was ok to take the wood to the tablesaw and rip the other edge, again just to start getting things in the ball park. At this point I have two relatively parallel sides. Again, just ball parking it to get a reference and to have a better idea as to just how much wood I'd have to work with and from where on the piece I would layout the components to the rocker. Here I'm looking for consistency between parts. I want the arm rests to look similar and close to the headrest. I want the splines to run a consistent grain and figure pattern from one side to the other...Back legs grain runout is a concern and the 5 boards for the seat I'd like to pop a little as well.. I firmly believe that you can make or break just about any project by taking your time to select what wood is gonna go where.
I had mentioned they were relatively flat, but there was still a little rocking when laid down on the tablesaw. So now it's time to go old school. Vised up the wood and got out the old #4 Stanley and LeeValley LA #3. The Stanley is one of the new versions (4 years old new version) and didn't work for crap'ola. Seems someone hadn't sharpened the iron in a while. DUH!!! Fortunately the LA #3 was sharp and ready for action. I won't be telling any hand tool guys anything new here, but for you folks on the fence about using hand planes, after some practice, patience and paying attention to what your doing and learning how to properly tune a hand plane, these things just fly thru the wood. A good plane, winding sticks and a straight edge and your in business!! I bet I"m not spending 5 minutes a side getting things close enough to run thru the planer. Yes, planer, I'm not a true neanderthal yet :) I can't join the club until I get a couple good handsaws *L*. Some of the boards are to wide to run over my 6" jointer so into the planer they went. I like to cross-hatch the boards with a carpenters pencil to get an idea of where the equipment is taking off the wood and to let me know when its a done deal.
From there into the drum sander to give me a better idea of grain and figure. Fact is I got an excellent idea of grain and figure after using the hand plane..Running 80 grit in the drum sander for now, does not give you much of an idea. Kinda close, but no cigar.
Wood is cut for now oversized all the way around. I'll let it sit for a few days to settle in and then make final cuts to size...
 

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Seat assembly

Its been a good week in the shop. As most seem to be :)

I set about getting the seat to the rocker assembled. Not necessarily a difficult part of the project, but one that requires accuracy. Since the seat is pretty much the anchor for the entire rocker, everything has to be well thought out and executed. One of the great aspects of this project is that much of it can be customized as you go. Not missing an opportunity to 'change' things I decided that the seat would be a bit too wide for the intended recipient. Instead of a designed 20" width, I went with 19 1/2". May not seem like much, and perhaps it isn't, but thats what I went with. Placement of the spindles and the width of the headrest are all affected by this change. Again, not by much, but enough that it has to be kept in mind thoughout the build.

Seat blanks were cut and trued 4square and just oversized by 1/4". I let them sit a few days to acclimate prior to final cuts. 3 of the 5 seat planks required that a 3* bevel be sawn into the side. Two of the 3 on one side, and the middle required a bevel on both sides. The options here were to leave the seat square and flat, or include a bevel of anywhere between 0 and 5*'s. I went with the recommended 3* bevel. I thought it just added a nice sweep to the shape of the seat. Blanks were all cut down to just over the suggested width. Leaving around a 1/16" extra. Cutting thick cherry like this tends to want to burn. Leaving a bit extra prior to final passes leaves enough to make the final pass with little or no burning.
Tablesaw was setup to 3*'s and test cuts were made to insure everything was dead on. The rest is easy peezy...
 

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Once all of the seat blanks were cut to size and bevels cut next step was to cut biscuit slots. Here again, you've several options. Biscuits, dowels, Festool tenon's. I went with biscuits. I would have like to have gone with Festool tenons, but,, one of those rigs is a long ways down the road. Dowels would have worked, but I've always found that dowels need to be dead on. Not much in the way of wiggle room. So, I concluded for me, biscuits was the way to go.
Since, I seldom use biscuits, I found most of what I had onhand were already a bit swollen so I went to the local big box store and picked up a jar of #20's for about 8 bucks.
The seat is 22"S deep so I figured that 5 biscuits per side would due just fine. Position of the biscuits was laid out taking into consideration that the seat would be "shaped" later on. I went with leaving a good 5"s prior to the first biscuit from the front of the rocker. All biscuits are placed at 1/2" from the bottom, again, taking into consideration the shaping of the rocker later on.
The inside of boards 1, 2, 4 and 5 were biscuited at 90*, nice, simple and straight forward. The outside edge of boards 2 and 4 as well as both sides of board 3 were biscuited at 3*'s. This is where having a test board handy and making several test cuts were required to zero in placement of the cut. This turned out to be a bit more difficult than I had anticipated. Using a Dewalt biscuit jointer I took my time and got em where I wanted em. I screwed up in the placement of the biscuit on the back of boards 2 and 4. I failed to raise the biscuit joint to compensate for the cutting out of the rear seat tenons. I ended up cutting, shaping and fitting 2 inserts. Glued em up and placed in the improperly located holes. Let em dry and sanded. Not a big deal, just annoying. But hey, it happens to all of us...:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Seat tenons

Now here is where some of the most enjoyable work starts. I do enjoy joinery work. When doing joinery work, I attempt to get things as close as I possibly can.

Since keeping everything symmetrical is vital in just about any seat construction, I took extra care when measuring out placement of the tenons. Using a scalpel to mark my lines and a micrometer to take measurements. Some folks don't believe in going to those extremes feeling it doesn't make much difference, and they end up with good results. This is the way i go about it to get good results. SO it doesn't matter how ya go about it, just so you get the results you're happy with. If your not happy with the results, perhaps its time to try something else.

Once the lines were laid out, primary cuts were made using one of my TS sleds. Test cuts again made to insure everything was cutting square. Once confirmed square, I cut out the corner blocks for the front tenons and then the dado for the back tenons. Then off to the router table to create the actual tenons.
It is at this point it was made perfectly clear that the seat to leg joint (rabbet and roundover) had to match perfectly. The recommended bits of choice are a matched set of Whiteside bits. Which I broke down and purchased. Figuring that they will come in handy again and again. Highland Woodworking has a set of bits designed specifically for this build:

Rabbet and roundover set:
Whiteside Rabbet Roundover Router Bit Set

Rabbet, roundover and 2" spiral downcut set:
Whiteside Rabbet Roundover Router Bit Set

I went with the later, thinking that the 2" spiral downcut will help make cutting out the templates much smoother and cleaner. A time saver, thus a good investment.

In the video supplied with the plans for this rocker, Charles Brock free hand routes the tenons, I used the table. A little touchy introducing the wood to the bit in a few places, but if you take you time, it all goes rather well. The end results were 4 very nice looking joints. Using new bits sure didn't hurt, with practically tear out free cuts.

After the tenons were cut, it was time for gluing up the seat. Here I decided to glue up boards 1 and 2 then boards 4 and 5 seperately. Let dry overnight, then gluded board 3 to 1 and 2.. dry over night, then glued boards 1,2 and 3 to 4 and 5. Doing it this way gave me a little extra time to make any adjustments necessary to the glue ups. Titebond III is my glue of choice for just about all projects.I've played with Weldbond, but find the open time window just a little to tight.
 

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I screwed up in the placement of the biscuit on the back of boards 2 and 4. I failed to raise the biscuit joint to compensate for the cutting out of the rear seat tenons. I ended up cutting, shaping and fitting 2 inserts. Glued em up and placed in the improperly located holes. Let em dry and sanded. Not a big deal, just annoying. But hey, it happens to all of us...:)
And that's why the first one is always a bit of an adventure into the unknown. It's hard to focus on the job at hand and look forward at the same time. Too often one or the other suffers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
And that's why the first one is always a bit of an adventure into the unknown. It's hard to focus on the job at hand and look forward at the same time. Too often one or the other suffers.

And this is exactly what happened Charles.. thinking ahead, not focused on the task at hand....fortunetely the error was easily remedied. This is however, what I enjoy the most with tackling a new project/skills etc. its all a learning curve. Sometimes we just tend to forget lessons learned :sarcastic:
 

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I keep thinking I should be making notes or keeping journal. But I would either forget to read it or forget where I put it.
 
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