Bill Kappel starting Maloof style rocking chair class #1: Sam Maloof style rocking chair Class

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Blog entry by bkap posted 12-21-2013 02:01 PM 4887 reads 4 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Bill Kappel starting Maloof style rocking chair class series Part 2: Not sure!!!! »

How to build a Custom Sculptured rocking chair

Lesson # 1
Here is the free class text you wanted. It is complete and you can build a rocker using it. If you are following along with the Web Class and are anxious to upload the new text before I am able to post it to the Web Class site you can send me an email [email protected] and request the next lesson.
You now have three choices:
(1) Send me an email for the Free text in which case this Free text will give you all you need to know to build a rocker, but missing the pictures and seminar upgrades.
(2) Send me an email for the next Web Class lesson you are ready for by giving me the text item number you have advanced to which will let me know what material I should send next. I do it this way because I will often make changes for clarification as I once again read this material.
(3) On my web site at the ‘Supplies’ page click on PayPal, at the bottom, button for the entire, with pictures & upgrades, manual and or patterns with jigs.
Using case (3) will enable you to advance at your own pace. Also I will send you all future revisions to the Web Class as I make them. Send me your email address and I will email your choice selection to you. [email protected]

Seminar on Sam Maloof style rocking chair.

If you find you would like all the pictures and the upgrade text as well as the daily ‘Story line’ then the full detailed manual is available on my ‘supplies’ page at It comes in a ‘word’ document in two emails because the file is too large for one email. . I do ask a $10.95 donation for it.

The seminar text has a lot of pictures and some advance techniques or the latest changes I have made in making rocking chairs. It is the text I give to all my students when we make a rocker together.

You may like the full size patterns and jigs as well that are available on the same web page. These patterns are full size and you print them off on your printer. They are marked, in full size, so you can tape or glue the pages together to make your permanent wood patterns. These patterns & jigs are $10.95 for both

The ‘story line’ is used in my classes for the seminar students to easily follow the daily procedure of making a rocking chair. These students also have the full text to study.

For the most part this material is taken from the FREE text available on my web site at with some added text changes.

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, but little effort has been given to dress up the presentation with expensive fancy foot work like blue print drawings or commercial printing and pictures. Everything you need is here to make custom rocking chair even pictures are included.
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. Please view the gallery on this web site ( for some of the styles I make to determine if this is what you are looking for. 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.

I have posted a few announcements to bulletin board forums, so as soon as we get a reasonable interest, I will add to this paper. If you like what you see feel free to post announcements about this offer to other woodworking forums. Be sure to tell them to do a search for “Kappel rockers”. Or go to When on my web site click on the left bar marked “code” and select the code # for the FREE or upgraded info. you want.

If an email for the FREE text is sent to me, it must have the code number in the subject line so I can sort out the serious woodworker from the rubbish mail I get. When the code changes you will know I have changed text.

As we go along I may make adjustments to this text as seems proper upgraded text. 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 in the world today, 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.

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

We will go through the same construction procedure I use for one of my rockers in the same sequence of manufacturing. I will, at a later date, add details on how to upgrade or modify a particular unit of the rocker to what I think is an improvement or enhancement for attractiveness or functionally. This new material has been used to publish my student manual or full instructional manual now available on my web site along with full size ‘patterns & jigs’.

-- Rocking Chair Guy

8 comments so far

View DocSavage45's profile


9071 posts in 4338 days

#1 posted 12-21-2013 05:40 PM


I have had you listed as a buddy for awhile. Your projects are well crafted and an homage to Maloof. My next project of consequence will be a rocking horse for a brand new nephew.” If” I get that accomplished I will be looking to build a mini rocking chair? But I am working full time and I am in your age group.
Looking at part time as life is too short? Just really need the money? LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View a1Jim's profile


118334 posts in 5073 days

#2 posted 12-21-2013 05:51 PM

Hi Bill
Thanks for taking this on this should be very interesting and informative ,I can already tell from your description of what your going to do that your blog will be very detailed and complete, like Tom I have added you to my buddy list to make sure I don’t miss a thing.


View bkap's profile


343 posts in 5753 days

#3 posted 12-21-2013 06:57 PM

Thanks guys your interest makes me feel good about taking on the project. When I get started one of the items I will show you is a ‘petite’ rocker I made using through-away wood. Making a small rocker one can use the same procedures as a full size rocker.

First I have to find out how to post to the ‘class’ page.

-- Rocking Chair Guy

View MrFid's profile


910 posts in 3400 days

#4 posted 12-21-2013 06:58 PM

Same as the above two comments Bill! Your work is beautiful can’t wait to read. I have loved the Maloof style rockers for a long time, and it was a rocking chair that inspired me to become a woodworker in the first place! If you don’t mind I’ll add you as a buddy as well.

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View DocSavage45's profile


9071 posts in 4338 days

#5 posted 12-22-2013 01:03 AM

check out your second blog section I found something that might help and postd it there as it was the first email I read.

I’d like this to be a success for you.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View bkap's profile


343 posts in 5753 days

#6 posted 12-23-2013 02:19 PM

I don’t understand. What is the ‘second blog section’? I have a new class post ready, so where do I post it?

-- Rocking Chair Guy

View bkap's profile


343 posts in 5753 days

#7 posted 12-23-2013 02:20 PM

Class Lesson #2
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 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.

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, 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 let’s 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 at least three important considerations when building fine rocking chairs with the above given qualifiers.

First, 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 give the head 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.

Second, the 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 adaptation and individual taste.

Third, and 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 densities of different woods vary 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.

-- Rocking Chair Guy

View bkap's profile


343 posts in 5753 days

#8 posted 01-15-2014 05:01 PM

I have posted to the following title subject about building the Maloof style rocker. Sorry, but I have been learning this Forum posting business so now I will post all the rest of the instructions on number 2 below.

1 “FREE web class Maloof rocker #1: Lesson #2”
2 “Anyone interested in making the Sam Maloof style rocker?”
3 “Bill Kappel starting Maloof style rocking chair class #1: Sam Maloof style rocking chair Class”
4 “Bill Kappel starting Maloof style rocking chair class #2: Not sure!!!!”

-- Rocking Chair Guy

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