Sam Maloof Inspired Walnut Rocking Chair

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Project by Woodbridge posted 07-11-2012 03:00 AM 8514 views 11 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Completing a Maloof inspired rocking chair has been on my to-do list for about 18 months now and I purchased the walnut for it about a year ago. I’m giving this one to my son. I have built two other rockers so far; one based on David Haigs dream rocker and the other based on Charles Rohlfs rocking chair ( a gift for my daughter). Maloof’s rocker is one of a handful of “iconic” chairs and completing a Maloof style rocker seems like a necessary step (a rite of a passage of sorts) as I continue to learn the skills and techniques of chair making.

I must admit I approached this one with a bit of trepidation; it seems like such a challenging chair to build. Seeing all the wonderful Maloof rockers built by many LJers continued to provide the incentive for me to give it a try. Well over a year ago, I started to draw up my own plans, but on one of my many trips to Lee Valley (they have a store about 5 minutes from my home!) I spotted Charles Brock’s Maloof rocker package used his plans for this rocker. I also have acquired Hal Taylor’s package and found his information very helpful during the construction process.

I don’t have the discipline to keep track of how much time I spend on a project, but I know this one took a lot of time. There were so many new techniques to learn and a much higher attention to detail and finish than I have done previously; all part of the learning process. I really pushed myself to have the patience to sand and sand and sand, then polish and polish and polish the wood with polishing pads (that both Charles Brock and Hal Taylor recommend). The wood is silky smooth and burnished and it really makes finishing with several coats of oil a joy. It still needs the second stage of finishing with the oil wax mix, but I couldn’t wait bring it upstairs and also to post. I’ll get to that second stage next week.

I hope to complete seven or eight chairs this first year of my retirement. I’ve just started a reproduction of Rohlfs Tall Back Chair and I am simultaneously working on another Rohlfs 1898 Desk Chair.

After that I hope to attempt another David Haig Dream Rocker and learn about steam bending (the air dried white oak is in the garage waiting for me to get to it. Finally I have some sketches for an updated version of my earlier three legged chair. Building another Maloof inspired rocker is definitely on my list for next year.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

21 comments so far

View MacSteveT's profile


55 posts in 4191 days

#1 posted 07-11-2012 03:24 AM

Outstanding!! I congratulate you on the fruits of your patience and attention to detail – this rocker is really wonderful. I think you did a great job capturing that Maloof feeling that the whole chair was carved from a solid block of walnut.

-- "Do, or do not. There is no try." ~Yoda

View a1Jim's profile


118334 posts in 5075 days

#2 posted 07-11-2012 04:11 AM

View sras's profile


6727 posts in 4628 days

#3 posted 07-11-2012 04:47 AM

Fantastic accomplishment! I agree on the rite of passage – a chair like this is on my list—- someday.

Beautiful work!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View JohnnyMike's profile


34 posts in 3644 days

#4 posted 07-11-2012 05:18 AM

Building a rocking chair for my father is a dream of mine…when the time permits me. One of this caliber would be a dream come true. Thanks for the inspiration. It’s really beautiful.

-- John Michael George,

View Ken90712's profile


18123 posts in 4687 days

#5 posted 07-11-2012 08:03 AM

Amazing, He would be proud!!!!!!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 4735 days

#6 posted 07-11-2012 10:02 AM

You need to make a new sign for your woodshop… It should have your name under the title: “Master Chairmaker” Your chair looks fantastic. I like the other chairs you’ve made, but this one is by far the best one. Chairs like this are not just furniture, they are fine art.

I’ve sawn some beautiful walnut and cherry 2 1/2” thick to use for building chairs and yesterday I got a very ugly maple log next to my sawmill to cut next. It’s so twisted and gnarly that a regular sawmill wouldn’t buy it. But, every ugly log I’ve sawn has made the most beautiful lumber. I can’t wait to see what’s in this one.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View Tom Godfrey's profile

Tom Godfrey

488 posts in 3674 days

#7 posted 07-11-2012 10:56 AM

Beautiful rocker. Just wish I had the ability to make one even close to this. awesome work here on LJ .

-- Tom Godfrey Landrum South Carolina ([email protected])

View MShort's profile


1798 posts in 4917 days

#8 posted 07-11-2012 11:52 AM

Well done !!!

-- Mike, Missouri --- “A positive life can not happen with a negative mind.” ---

View woodworm's profile


14477 posts in 5089 days

#9 posted 07-11-2012 12:01 PM

Absolutely beautiful.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View CooperDBM's profile


34 posts in 3844 days

#10 posted 07-11-2012 12:31 PM

Beautiful work. It’s probably just me but it looks like the Batmobile (1960s) of rocking chairs!

-- Dave, Ottawa, ON

View Canadian Woodworks's profile

Canadian Woodworks

702 posts in 4568 days

#11 posted 07-11-2012 02:23 PM

Another fine chair, keep it up!

-- Paul Lemiski, Ontario Canada, Custom Wooden Rocking chairs and tables

View Gator's profile


383 posts in 5174 days

#12 posted 07-11-2012 06:15 PM

I can’t say any more than has already been said.. well done.. that is a beautiful chair.


-- Master designer of precision sawdust and one of a kind slivers.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 4188 days

#13 posted 07-12-2012 01:21 AM

This is as nice as any Maloof rocker I’ve seen posted here (and I marvel at all of them). The joinery, the proportions, the finish…....I could go on and on about this beautiful rocker. Maybe some day I will have the courage to attempt one. I am in awe of your skills.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View kenn's profile


813 posts in 5218 days

#14 posted 07-12-2012 01:38 AM

I love pic 4! A chair maker appreciates the perfectly parallel nature of those arms and how difficult that can be to accomplish. Great job.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View Woodbridge's profile


3755 posts in 3916 days

#15 posted 07-12-2012 02:24 AM

Thanks everyone for the generous comments.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

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