Maloof Style Lowback Chair - Walnut

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Project by mnorusis posted 11-27-2010 07:18 PM 7868 views 18 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

While I’ve always been handy, I have not been “truly” woodworking for too long and even though I’ve built quite a few things, I have yet to find something that I really really loved making from start to finish. Sure, it’s great to make things for the house and I take great pride in the projects I’ve done well, but for some reason something has been missing.

This is what I found myself reflecting on when my woodworking anniversary was coming up a few months ago. What I settled on was, while I’ve become quite passionate about woodworking, it was just that, a passion for woodworking. While not a bad thing by any means, I decided I needed to try and find something to build that I was passionate about. I decided only then would I be able to push myself to continue to improve my skills.

So the search for my woodworking anniversary project began. I considered and dismissed a great many projects for one reason or another, and was getting pretty disheartened, when I decided to go through my favorites and my woodworking bookmarks (no small feat) to see if there was a theme. That is how the idea to build a Maloof Style Low back Chair came to the front of my mind. While not a style for everyone, like many woodworkers before me, I had completely fallen in love with Sam Maloof’s style. The problem was, I really wasn’t sure if I was ready for such a project, so I did what I always do, read everything I possibly could about the subject. Finally, never really one to shy away from taking on something I really had no business doing, I settled on Scott Morrison's Maloof Inspired Low Back Chair templates and DVD

Let me just say what a great decision it was to go with those templates and DVD. On their own, they are basically perfect, but when you add in Scott’s willingness to help me through the process, they are invaluable. He’s very kind, patient and clearly passionate about what he does and helping others. Definitely the best decision of the project.

Overall, the chair took me 51 hours to complete. About 10 of those hours were devoted to tasks associated with this being my first time building this chair. Things like watching the DVD, making the templates and building the jigs. I think the next one will take between 30 and 35 hours. I’ve actually already started on a Settee using Scott’s templates (he has a Settee add-on to the low back chair templates).

Most importantly though, I think I found something I am just as passionate about as woodworking. Only time will tell, but building this chair was amazingly enjoyable. So enjoyable actually that I even enjoyed the sanding! As I said, I’m currently working on a Settee, and after that I plan on building other chairs, perhaps another one of Scott’s designs so I can continue to improve as a chair maker, with the eventual hope of designing my own.

Another important discovery, with this project, I’ve finally learned to be happy with the end result, while at the same time seeing the flaws in the finished product. For a lot of my projects, I simply haven’t been able to see past the flaws (not necessarily mistakes, but things that could have been done better). But I think I’ve finally learned that it’s okay for it not to be absolutely perfect, because the next one will be even better. And there most certainly will be a next one.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for taking the time to read through, and please know that any and all comments are welcome.



20 comments so far

View Jeff's profile


116 posts in 4205 days

#1 posted 11-27-2010 07:32 PM

Great post Mike. The chair looks beautiful but it sounds like you got something more important out of the project than a place to sit.

I too want to find some project that really stirs up the motivation to do it again and again, improving the piece each time and honing my skills.

Your experience hits home,


-- Jeff

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 4147 days

#2 posted 11-27-2010 07:33 PM

Great Chair. Looks very inviting.
Great review as well.

Look forward to the two seater

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View KLorts's profile


10 posts in 4100 days

#3 posted 11-27-2010 08:32 PM

Great work! I have a couple questions what tools are absolutely essential in the building of these chairs? (I know some of his other chairs require a lathe) Also what size wood is required and how much? I know the rockers take 8/4 and about 50-60bf so I assume this takes a little less. Thanks. Awesome job.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 5390 days

#4 posted 11-27-2010 08:52 PM

You did an awesome job on the chair! Great choice on the wood and excellent craftsmanship.

I can vouch for Scott’s character. He is a talented woodworker and he is not stingy with his knowledge. He has always been willing to give help and advice.

Great job and I look forward to seeing the next piece.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Clung's profile


98 posts in 4072 days

#5 posted 11-27-2010 09:20 PM

Spectacular chair. I too love Maloof’s style, and thanks for posting the link to Scott Morrison’s site. I’ll be bookmarking his page! Again, beautiful job and looking forward to seeing the next piece.

-- Clarence

View Brit's profile


8458 posts in 4133 days

#6 posted 11-27-2010 10:23 PM

Mike, if I wore a hat, I’d take it off to you sir. Beautiful chair. Can’t wait to see the settee.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Gerry's profile


264 posts in 4531 days

#7 posted 11-27-2010 11:08 PM

Thanks for sharing. What a beautiful result! Woodworking is most definitely a learning experience, and I too am beginning the journey of accepting the results of my work Your experience is inspiring to help propel me in the direction of building a chair, and some more complex projects.

before I do, I definitely want to perfect my efforts in the area of boxes, to learn more about this sometimes( right) exacting discipline called woodworking. I look forward to seeing the result of your efforts on the settee. Thank again!

-- -Gerry, Hereford, AZ ” A really good woodworker knows how the hide his / her mistakes.”

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 4332 days

#8 posted 11-27-2010 11:23 PM

Always love the Maloof chairs. I came out just incredible. Next I presume is the double rocker. Thanks for posting such an incredible piece.

View Marc5's profile


304 posts in 4632 days

#9 posted 11-28-2010 05:22 AM

Man is that nice! Nicely done! I hope to be there one day.

-- Marc

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 4225 days

#10 posted 11-28-2010 07:00 AM

That’s an awsome chair!

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View Sodabowski's profile


2401 posts in 4123 days

#11 posted 11-28-2010 02:51 PM

You made it really well Mike! I also came through that “something is missing” point before starting building my own electric guitars, so I can relate. Passion is a must have.

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View mnorusis's profile


157 posts in 4434 days

#12 posted 11-28-2010 03:56 PM

Thanks everyone for all the kind words. I’ve finished the seat for the Settee and am starting on the legs shortly, so the hardest part of assembly is done.

No lathe is required for this chair, the front legs are cut on the bandsaw instead of turned because of the gentle forward swoop. I used the TS, planer, jointer, rounter and 3 bits (2 roundovers + a straight mallof straight bit), bandsaw, angle grinder + 2 discs (a holy galahad course disc which looks like a bagel sliced in half and a regular 36 grit disc) my random orbit sander and lots of sanding discs and a few rasps. I’m sure there are a few other minor things I’m leaving out that any of us have laying around.

I think it was probably 30-35 BF of walnut, but I would need to go back and double check to be sure.

Sodabowski, you need to post some projects of your electric guitars! :-)

View F Dudak's profile

F Dudak

342 posts in 5101 days

#13 posted 11-28-2010 04:12 PM

Great looking chair Mike!!

-- Fred.... Poconos, PA ---- Chairwright in the making ----

View dfdye's profile


372 posts in 4328 days

#14 posted 11-28-2010 08:33 PM

The finish especially caught my eye. Very nicely done.

-- David from Indiana --

View dakremer's profile


2771 posts in 4382 days

#15 posted 11-29-2010 04:36 AM

thats an awesome looking chair!!! VERY awesome. Especially for the first one. Like you, as of now i still have done woodworking that i am VERY passionate about (too busy with school….too poor….no shop…not enough time…etc…etc) I cant wait for the day I can build what i REALLY love! I’m glad you found it! Looks like you’ll be a pro in no time! Thanks for sharing – can’t wait to see the next one

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

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