Sam Maloof Inspired Rocking Chair Kansas Black Walnut Sculpted Rocker Custom Sized Hand Shaped

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Project by Mark A. DeCou posted 03-01-2011 07:36 PM 12737 views 7 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This project posting is of a Maloof-Inspired rocking chair that I shipped recently to the Washington DC area.

If you would like to commission a custom built Rocker specifically sized to fit you, you can start the process by checking the base pricing by clicking here to go to my Etsy Store

Mark DeCou


Project Story:
I’m a Maloof-a-hollic, if there is such a thing. I feel in love with his rockers the first time I saw one in a magazine back in the early 1990’s. Then I rushed out to buy his book, and after reading it, I fell in love with the “man”, (in the right way).

Sam’s autobiography tells such a wonderful story of man with a vision, a dedicated and supportive wife/partner, faithful employees, some self-taught talent, and how God used his hands to create beautiful works of sculptural art. If you’ve not read his book, it’s on my list of the most inspirational woodworker stories that are in print, and so I recommend it. Not the book “about” Sam, but the one he wrote himself.

It’s sort of a sad testimony on our culture. I go around speaking about “Sam Maloof” quite often, using quotes from his book of wisdom, and telling people about his work. I seldom find anyone that can say they’ve ever heard of him. However, if I give the last name of any NASCAR driver, they often can quickly tell me the number of the Car that he drives, and how many victories, and what sponsers he has, etc. Now, there is nothing wrong with NASCAR, I only wish that more people appreciated the quiet little men, like Sam, that spend a lifetime creating and working with wood. Sam is as famous of a woodworker as a woodworker can get, and still he’s rarely heard about outside of the woodworking world, and that’s a real shame.

I only met Sam one time in person, a quick meeting. I had a whole bunch of stuff I wanted to tell him and thank him for. But, when I bumped into him sitting on the back steps of the lecture hall at the Western Design Conference in 2006, I was just dumb-founded, and speechless. All, I could muster was, “Thank you Mr. Maloof for your inspiration.” and shook his hand. I walked away wanting to say so much more, but couldn’t. After that moment, I understood how 14 year old girls stand by a stage and scream at a rock star. Suffice it to say, that I’m a big fan of his “life”, and also the work he completed.

If you would like to read more about his lecture at that Conference, click here for my summary

This rocking chair Features:
  1. Custom Sized for customer, based on 21 body measurements taken
  2. Figured Burl Walnut Seat
  3. Burled Walnut Veneer Inlayed Lumbar Spindles
  4. Sculpted back side of Crest Rail
  5. Laminated Strip Rocker Runners
  6. Kansas Black Walnut Wood
Here are postings of other rockers I’ve built:
  1. Click Here to See another Rocking Chair
  2. Click Here to See another Rocking Chair
  3. Click Here to See another Rocking Chair


Thanks for looking,
Mark DeCou
email: [email protected]

(Notice: All photos, project story, and unique design elements are copyrighted by the Author M.A. DeCou. No unauthorized use in whole, or part is allowed without expressed written permission.)

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

25 comments so far

View Woodwrecker's profile


4240 posts in 4698 days

#1 posted 03-01-2011 07:42 PM

That is almost too pretty to sit in.

View BTKS's profile


1989 posts in 4587 days

#2 posted 03-01-2011 07:48 PM

Simply, AMAZING!

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View scott shangraw's profile

scott shangraw

514 posts in 5192 days

#3 posted 03-01-2011 07:53 PM

Nice job Mark !!! Boy that some nice Walnut you have up there I need to come up some time and trade you some Juniper or Mesquite for some!!!

-- Scott NM,

View Greg's profile


335 posts in 3996 days

#4 posted 03-01-2011 07:54 PM

Wow Mark, I really like the figured seat and the burled walnut veneer inlayed lumbar spindles. I especially like the sculpted back of the head rest. Exquisite work. That is a lot of hand shaping gone into it!
I had the pleasure of meeting Sam several years ago at his shop. He was the nicest guy you could ever meet. He’s a true American icon, and your inspired piece really pays him homage.
Congrats on another beautiful piece.

-- You don't have a custom made heirloom fly fishing Net?

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 4163 days

#5 posted 03-01-2011 07:57 PM

Very Cool !! Gotta love the Walnut!!

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5528 days

#6 posted 03-01-2011 08:04 PM

These photos really stink, wish they were better. Old maple floors, with long fluorescent lights really messed with the look and color of the wood, no matter how I set up my camera. I was in a hurry to get the chair to the shipping place in Kansas City, and I should have taken longer to take the photos.

thanks for your comments,

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Bsmith's profile


330 posts in 3793 days

#7 posted 03-01-2011 08:32 PM

Great looking rocker. Anytime you have too much of the Black Walnut I would be glad to take it off your hands. ;-) I’m just a stones throw south of you in Wichita. Thanks for the pic’s.

-- Bryan

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5528 days

#8 posted 03-01-2011 08:46 PM

Sorry Bsmith, never too much walnut here. However, when I’m gone, you can check with my wife, she’ll be auctioning the barn full of wood and shop full of tools, until then, I’m going to need it all!

thanks for the note, always good to hear from fellow Kansans.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 4057 days

#9 posted 03-01-2011 08:59 PM

Mark: This is a beautifull chair.

I was watching the videos from Hall Taylor Last night and boy that’s a lot of work!

I won’t be attempting this anytime soon.

Great work.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5528 days

#10 posted 03-01-2011 09:13 PM

thanks Lanwater. It is a lot of work for me. I average about 250-300 hours per chair, and that doesn’t include the 50 hours or so it takes in customer communication, packing/delivery, etc. One reason my rockers have been time consuming is that I’ve built all new templates/fixtures/jigs each time, as each chair is built to the customer’s measurements. I’ve also learned not to count the hours anymore, it takes away about 95% of the fun, when I’m worried over the clock. Other guys tell me they complete the chairs in 75-100 hours after they’ve built quite a few of them, which is still a lot of work. Hal’s chairs are sort of a simplified version of Sam’s chairs, with the hard-line/soft-line sculpting removed, the spindles simplified, the rocker arms simplified, and some other changes. Hal has really helped a lot of people create a sculpted rocker, with his full plans, and videos, and classes, and all the help a guy would need to build a chair of his design. I’ve never looked at Hal’s plans in detail, but many folks have successfully completed a beautiful rocker using them.

For my training, I went to Marc Adams’ Sculpted Rocking Chair Class in Indianapolis, IN back in 2000. Without Marc helping me to figure it out the first time, I wouldn’t have ever started, nor ever finished a rocker, so I can highly recommend his teaching class. However, sign up early, it fills up quickly each session.


-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View tdv's profile


1203 posts in 4193 days

#11 posted 03-01-2011 09:28 PM

Mark I take my hat off to you sir that is a work of art, I think at 300 hours you didn’t stop for coffee. That’s a lot of sculpting & real craftsmanship

-- God created wood that we may create. Trevor East Yorkshire UK

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 4057 days

#12 posted 03-01-2011 09:37 PM

Thanks Mark.

I appreciate your detailed input.
Indianapolis is accross the country fore me. Maybe I should take a vacation without the family :)

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5528 days

#13 posted 03-01-2011 10:07 PM

I took the trip alone that year in 2000 to attend Marc Adams’ class, as we couldn’t afford for me to go at the time, and haven’t since. I drove my old 1972 GMC Sierra pickup, and slept in a sleeping bag in the back of the pickup at the State Park. They didn’t have hot showers at the campground, got rained on one night by a bad storm, but I was much younger, and really wanted the teaching, and I have nothing but fond memories of the time. I’m teaching a class at the John Cambell Folk School in June this year, and it will be interesting to meet and learn the stories of those that attend the class. Who knows, there maybe another sojourner that sleeps in a truck and takes cold showers each morning.


-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Christopher's profile


576 posts in 5043 days

#14 posted 03-01-2011 11:03 PM

Another work of art from a true artisan of wood.

View mtnwild's profile


4157 posts in 4650 days

#15 posted 03-01-2011 11:35 PM

Always a treat to see a master craftsman”s work.

I like the head rest detail too. Great touch.

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

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