Maloof-Inspired Black Walnut Sculpted Glider

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Project by Harriman posted 04-04-2014 03:06 AM 3237 views 12 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I just put the final coat of Danish oil on this rocker/glider I built for my sister and brother-in-law to celebrate the newest member of the family, born last December. The Black Walnut came from a tree that was struck by lightning in my parents’ neighbor’s back yard in West Virginia. The back splats are laminated with a piece of Black Walnut sandwiched between two pieces of lightly spalted Maple. The Maple plugs and wedges for the tenons holding the arms in place serve to tie the piece together.

This was my first attempt at the sculpted style developed by Sam Maloof and imitated/replicated/renovated by a host of fellow woodworkers. As far as I can tell by a good ol’ fashioned Google search, this may be the first ever gliding chair built in the sculpted style. If you know of one (or have built one yourself), please let me know.

Anyone who has taken a stab at the “Maloof rocker” could appreciate the headaches I ran into when I adapted the design to a glider base. Where the typical sculpted rocking chair has a seat that narrows in the back and back legs that are canted 5 degrees to achieve an attractive splay, these options weren’t there for this design. I needed the back legs to be parallel in the back and the same distance apart as the front legs in order for the gliding mechanism to work. I tried to accomplish a bit of splay by pivoting the legs outward by 10 degrees rather than leaning them out. If I build another one, I hope to fine tune this aspect of the design. Any suggestions are welcome!

-- Lucas, Davie, FL –

16 comments so far

View RibsBrisket4me's profile


1554 posts in 3511 days

#1 posted 04-04-2014 03:07 AM

That is fantastic…wow!

View Gixxerjoe04's profile


850 posts in 2582 days

#2 posted 04-04-2014 03:16 AM

Really nice, too nice to sit on haha

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30597 posts in 3344 days

#3 posted 04-04-2014 08:43 AM

Very beautiful.

Welcome to Lumberjocks

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 2830 days

#4 posted 04-04-2014 10:41 AM

Very nice chair and you can definitely see the Maloof influence in the design. Excellent job.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View jdmaher's profile


472 posts in 3585 days

#5 posted 04-04-2014 11:57 AM


I have a daughter who wants a glider . . .

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View Bobsboxes's profile


1543 posts in 3670 days

#6 posted 04-04-2014 12:15 PM

Very well done, love the finish.

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

View Albert's profile


544 posts in 4595 days

#7 posted 04-04-2014 12:48 PM

What a challenge! Congratulations, it is very nice.

View EzJack's profile


457 posts in 4176 days

#8 posted 04-04-2014 02:44 PM

GOOD job!

-- Ain't better or worse than any other woodpecker in the woods.

View cbehnke's profile


89 posts in 3622 days

#9 posted 04-04-2014 03:41 PM

very nice extension of a style…taking inspiration from Maloof and then adding your own touch with the glider. i love it when people pay homage to a master or a style and then extend the original, adapt it, personalize it, etc. excellent, excellent piece Harriman. love it.

View leafherder's profile


1975 posts in 2958 days

#10 posted 04-04-2014 06:25 PM

Great Job! I have always preferred gliders to traditional rockers – they are safer for pets and easier on the carpets. Could you share a few more photos of the glider part? Beautiful choice of woods, I am currently growing two black walnuts that should be big enough to cut down for a rocker right about the time I retire – which gives me time to plan my chair and develop the skills to craft it. :)

-- Leafherder

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3696 days

#11 posted 04-05-2014 12:42 AM

Great job on this beautiful chair. This is the first Maloof style glider I’ve seen.

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

View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 3799 days

#12 posted 04-05-2014 12:49 AM

Awesome job.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

View Harriman's profile


13 posts in 2521 days

#13 posted 04-05-2014 03:43 AM

Thanks everyone for all the encouragement. I had a great time building this chair (except for nearly cutting a couple of fingers off halfway through; 22 stitches later, I’m still working with the full set). Cbehnke, I’m glad you see the piece as an homage to Maloof. That was definitely the intent. He has meant a lot to me as a self-taught woodworker. I wish I could have met him …

Leafherder (great name, by the way), I’d be happy to post some more pics, but being new to the group, I’m not sure where to put them. Should I put the images in a blog entry? Delete some of these and replace them? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

-- Lucas, Davie, FL –

View Harriman's profile


13 posts in 2521 days

#14 posted 04-05-2014 11:57 AM

Okay, I guess I can put pictures right in this comment box. For anyone interested, here are a couple of close-ups of the glider portion of the chair. Sorry about the quality of the images. (I really need to find a good photographer!)

-- Lucas, Davie, FL –

View leafherder's profile


1975 posts in 2958 days

#15 posted 04-05-2014 10:40 PM

Thanks for the photos of the mechanism! Looks rather complicated for my current skill level – maybe by the time my trees are ready to be cut down – in about 15 years. :)

Keep up the great work!

-- Leafherder

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