Sculpted Maloof inspired Rocking Chairs #1: Rough shapes and construction

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Blog entry by Ehren posted 06-06-2012 02:30 PM 5168 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Sculpted Maloof inspired Rocking Chairs series Part 2: Fitting leg joints and slow progress »

For a while now I’ve wanted to build a rocking chair. I was finally tipped into starting the construction after my dad is retired after a thousand years and I found my wife trying to rock my kid to sleep in a folding chair in the nursery and so I’ve finally set aside my other projects and buckled down. In the purest form of logic I decided since I’ve set aside the time for one, might as well build two, just don’t tell the wife or father which one I make all the mistakes on.

I wanted to post a blog to share with friends and open up the floor for any advice from some more experienced craftsmen out there.

I am using instructions and templates from Mr Bill Kappel from I have made some changes for better or worse to fit my tooling or preferences along the way.

I got the walnut locally, plus a little extra for later.

I also developed some concept sketches to help with shaping and planning using Bill’s templates.

I cut all the templates on thin MDF to help with transferring the designs and for use with some jigs during the shaping later on.

For the runners I cut my walnut laminates and book matched the top layer. The bottom of the runners will have one ply of Rock Maple for protection against the floor. I couldn’t find any mesquite and I think a little maple will contrast nicely.
I used the inside curve of the runner to form a template for laminating. I chose to vacuum laminate the runners help with glue penetration and apply even pressure. When I do this again I will modify the mold so I can run some bolts to help clamp the runners to the mold and still get the vacuum pressure. I applied one layer at a time as I roughed out other parts of the project. Then finally split the runners and planed them down to my desired width.

I chose to make a contoured seat and matched the front and back legs to my leg joints on the outside boards.

The front legs make a 90 degree connection 9 inches from where they join the arm rest. I rounded the corners with a 5/8” round over bit and cut a dado 3/8” deep by ~1” wide to match my rabbet bit on the seat joint. For now the boards are 3” wide but will be trimmed and given a slight curve.

The back legs sit at a 5 degree angle from the seat. I used a quick template and router to make a 5 degree surface on the inside of the back leg and then cut a matching 5 degree slot (3/8×1”) using the same template. I then took it to the table saw for a matching slot on the other edge at 5 degrees mitered. I then used the roundover to match the seat rabbets, I did this last to keep more surface area to provide stability for routing the slots.

Once the joints were fit as close as I could manage I glued the seat together outside boards to the middle seat boards. I rough cut the seat contours to help with shaping of the seat later. Never mind what looks like a burned board, I may or may not have busted the correct blade and resorted to using the incorrect blade as I still wait for my replacements to come in.

After sitting in clamps for 48 hours I matched everything up and made final measurements for the headrest, back-slats and arms

I always like projects that involve tools I don’t have. As a result I now have a new grinder, and have the seats roughly shaped using a 40 grit flap disc. I’ll hit the seat once more with the grinder and 120grit then transfer to an orbital and scrapers working up to final finish.

7 comments so far

View elton's profile


13 posts in 4800 days

#1 posted 06-06-2012 02:46 PM

I was just thinking about bloging with the rocker I am making. Looks like you beat me to it, maybe I’ll do it anyway. Looks great so far.

View Ehren's profile


27 posts in 3714 days

#2 posted 06-06-2012 03:05 PM

Elton, sounds great, I’d be interested in seeing your progress.

View RBWoodworker's profile


442 posts in 4811 days

#3 posted 06-06-2012 03:26 PM

Sam was a dead friend of mine and taught me how to make his rockers.. I posted link to one of his chairs I made in case you wanted to see how it looked.. as well as a link to my website to show some of the classes I teach making these rockers.. please feel free to PM me if you have any questions or if I can help..

-- Randall Child

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 4696 days

#4 posted 06-06-2012 05:25 PM

Looks like you’ve got a great start on your chairs. I’m impressed.

RBWoodworker, your chairs look fantastic! I’ve got to make one for my shop, but if I do, I’ll never get out of it an do any work…

-- Hal, Tennessee

View Bsmith's profile


330 posts in 4129 days

#5 posted 06-06-2012 05:32 PM

Great blog. I will be following this. I don’t think I’m quite ready to tackle the rocker yet but will someday. RBWoodworker – sorry about your dead friend. ;-) I too have great respect and admiration for Maloof and his chairs.

-- Bryan

View RBWoodworker's profile


442 posts in 4811 days

#6 posted 06-06-2012 05:43 PM

Oops.. I meant to say “Dear” friend.. wow..I can’t believe I missed that..

-- Randall Child

View krisrimes's profile


111 posts in 3994 days

#7 posted 06-09-2012 04:05 PM

Looks great so far. This is on my bucket list. Keep up the great work.


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