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Rocking Chair, Maloof and me

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Project by MUST58GT posted 10-07-2019 12:05 PM 719 views 2 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Finally finished my “Maloof and me” rocking chair. This project I started last spring and worked gradually to completion. Have been intrigued by the elegance and structural integrity of Maloof style joints and the whole concept of building a custom fit, sculptured rocker for a while.

Well, this project actually began at a friend’s ranch in central Texas. He invited me to harvest several native walnut trees that died in a drought several years ago. We took the tree trunks to a local sawmill and converted them into a trailer load of 2-3” thick blanks. After watching the walnut dry for ~2 years (what could be more interesting?), I started using the wood for a variety of projects.

As some of you know, locally harvested and air dried wood has some pro’s and con’s.

First the pro’s … the deep colors and grain are nothing less than stunning. The grain is wild, with bold streaks of purple (from minerals in the ground?) and blonde sap wood. Some of the grain in these slabs actually lended themselves nicely to cutting curved pieces for the chair. It’s definitely a challenge to find that much excitement in the grain of the wood at your local fine lumber supplier.

Now for the con’s … these trees were loaded with knots, scars and a slew of defects that I had to repair and/or feature. One of the trees was apparently struck by lightning, leaving a rather large scar hidden inside several pieces. Rather than throw the damaged wood away, I decided to fill the “defect” with turquoise and black epoxy. That wasn’t part of my original plan but, flexible we woodworkers are … right?

This wood also has a tendency to move a bit over time. Or maybe in some cases, a lot. And, I found some unexplainable tension in the grain. Like, some pieces almost jumped off my table saw and bowed immediately into a dramatic “C” shape.

Like discovering that cute puppy you rescued from the pound has some serious anger issues. Almost lost my religion several times on this project.

Forgot to mention … I bought a clothes steamer (7$ from Goodwill) and built a steam chamber out of scrap wood for bending the rockers and back slats. Don’t know about you but, I’m always happy but a little disappointed at the same time with my laminations. Even after planning ahead, making elaborate molds, working on a couple prototypes, etc., I will likely build even more aggressive patterns in the future to manage spring back. Getting better, although slowly.

Also built a matching side table. The walnut and ash accents will hopefully make them look like they were made for each other.

Anyway, it’s a bit too early to say I’m really happy with it, but that will come with time. Like, after I forget how long I worked on it and all the mistakes/adjustments/features I made along the way. Big shout out to Bill Kappel for talking me off the ledge during some of the really hard parts.

For now, it’s just a super comfortable rocking chair. Can’t wait to start rocker #2, already have a beautiful slab of zebrawood for that project.

The only thing missing with me in the rocker at the moment is grandchildren. Should I nudge my kids to start working more diligently on that project soon also?

No doubt, opinions will vary.

-- Richard, Austin TX - "Every repair job is really just an upgrade oppty in disguise!"





14 comments so far

View tynewman's profile

tynewman

125 posts in 349 days


#1 posted 10-07-2019 12:10 PM

Great job!

-- Ty

View avsmusic1's profile

avsmusic1

577 posts in 1322 days


#2 posted 10-07-2019 12:25 PM

love it

View Ottacat's profile

Ottacat

517 posts in 2488 days


#3 posted 10-07-2019 12:43 PM

Congrats on getting this beautiful chair done despite all the challenges from the wood. I enjoyed your story about its making.

View swirt's profile

swirt

4746 posts in 3609 days


#4 posted 10-07-2019 01:15 PM

That looks fantastic. Congratulations on the accomplishment.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View pottz's profile

pottz

7947 posts in 1621 days


#5 posted 10-07-2019 01:47 PM

in spite of the issues you did an incredible job on this,i really love the head rest with the turquoise.i think sam would give the thumbs up on this one.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View PPK's profile

PPK

1669 posts in 1446 days


#6 posted 10-07-2019 02:05 PM

Beasutiful! Really like how you dealt with what you had. I understand all those challenges…

-- Pete

View BobHall's profile

BobHall

69 posts in 1922 days


#7 posted 10-07-2019 03:07 PM

Stunning! Sam would approve.

-- Bob "jack of all trades, master of none"

View Redoak49's profile

Redoak49

4423 posts in 2625 days


#8 posted 10-07-2019 04:31 PM

Very nice job and I understand what you went thru. I built one based on Bill Kappels plans. He is a great teacher.

Mine was made from Claro Walnut. I had no spring back on my rockers. I laminated it from 3/ 16” pieces and had a very sturdy form.

View cwdance1's profile

cwdance1

1161 posts in 3896 days


#9 posted 10-07-2019 05:01 PM

Beautiful job, I started one 3 years ago and still have not finished it.

Keep up the great work.

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

7225 posts in 3990 days


#10 posted 10-07-2019 10:06 PM

Outstanding! Just love this beautiful work!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View leafherder's profile

leafherder

1899 posts in 2589 days


#11 posted 10-07-2019 11:23 PM

Great job, if you are truly not happy with it I’ll gladly take it off your hands. But seriously,how can you not be in love with this chair? The walnut wood is gorgeous, the turquoise is fantastic and the ash racing stripes give it that fuel injecting boost to put it over the top.

Thanks for sharing.

-- Leafherder

View MUST58GT's profile

MUST58GT

108 posts in 863 days


#12 posted 10-08-2019 02:08 AM



Great job, if you are truly not happy with it I ll gladly take it off your hands. But seriously,how can you not be in love with this chair? The walnut wood is gorgeous, the turquoise is fantastic and the ash racing stripes give it that fuel injecting boost to put it over the top.

Thanks for sharing.

- leafherder

Thanks, I do like it a lot … but I’ll like it a lot more when I can’t remember how long I worked on it. No doubt the second rocker will go faster.

-- Richard, Austin TX - "Every repair job is really just an upgrade oppty in disguise!"

View Ivan's profile

Ivan

15600 posts in 3504 days


#13 posted 10-08-2019 04:34 AM

Work of art….I bet it’s comfortable too!

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Peteybadboy's profile

Peteybadboy

1595 posts in 2586 days


#14 posted 10-08-2019 11:03 AM

I don’t know if I have the patience for this project . I think you did a great job! Nice story too.

-- Petey

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