Taunton Press - Sam Maloof: Fine Woodworking DVD Proflie by Taunton (Rating: 5)

Wow, want to feel overwhelmed, and very inadequate?

Sort of like being the last kid to get underarm hair in gym class.

I am in the process of building three more Maloof-Inspired Rocking Chairs. Two for a commission, the third as a piece for speculation sale.

I have been working through my notes from the last one and preparing wood, and I ran across the Sam Maloof DVD as a recommended Amazon item. You know, those annoying multi-week advertisments from Amazon that keeps track of everything you have ever ordered from them, and they try to entice you into another purchase of something similar?

You're right, it worked on me this time. Well, actually, it works a lot. This week I also bought the new Terry Winchell "Molesworth" book, and Theo Marx's "Contemporary Western Design", and Jim Steven's new book "Scrimshaw Techniques." Book buying is sort of a bad habit for me. There are many bad habits I have though, so I'm not prejudiced.

So, I watched the DVD with my wife last night, a good way to spend a Friday night after the kids have gone to bed. Hey, I'm 44 now, and have other priorities than I used to. Ok, ok, to be honest, my wife has other priorities now.

Sam made this video in 1989, and he walks through some of the basics of making his chairs, what he thinks about when he designs furniture, how his shop works, his philosophies, his home, his life, etc.

I was quite impressed with the entire video, but most of all Sam.

I was thinking, you could have gotten me to buy a video from a phone camera of Sam working. I am just in love with this guy, in a safe, normal, admiration sort of way.

The forearms on Sam are pretty intimidating to a guy that drinks too much diet soda pop and eats too many M&M's. His chairs are a lot of work, and his arms and hands demonstrate those years of hard work.

I was so amazed at his team of workers. Sam would be talking to the camera man, and a guy would walk by, and he'd say, "Hey you, go ahead and spread this glue, and put on those clamps I want to tell the camera man something."

"Oh, you please Buddy, come here, take this rocking chair seat blank, and finish up all of the carving and grinding work."

"Hey you two guys come here, I want you to take this seat back over to the upholstery shop and I want you to know what to tell him."

"Hello, my lovely wife, please catch these boards as they come through the planer….don't get a splinter."

"Oh, you fellow, come take this chair and finish all of the hand sculpting and sanding, I have something else to do."

"oh, this is a lovely Lemon Tree, too bad those nasty guys at City Hall want to bulldozer you for a highway"

"Here is my house, all built by me."

Of course, those quotes are either exaggerations, or pharaphrases.

I was having a "discussion" with my wife this week about her free time during the day when the kids are in school. I made the suggestion that she could come out to the shop and help me. She replied, "Oh yea, you just want me to cook, clean house, do laundry, and all of the work that is beneath you in the Shop."

So, I'm still working alone.

But, it was nice to see Sam and his team and wife all work together to fill customer orders.

So, if you have an evening to spend watching a Modern Master make something, you won't be dissappointed in this DVD, despite it's age. Sam is great in the video, and his late-wife Alfreda is also in the video, and their relationship is an inspiration to all of us long-married folks.

BUT, here is the warning:
I was so severely overwhelmed at how much better Sam is than I am as a woodworker, that it critically hurt my ego last night. I sort of recovered this morning, but he is so impressive, you can't help but applaud after the DVD is finished. Even my wife, the born skeptic, said, "wow, he's good."

My hats (all of them), and my Ego, is off to you Sam-the-Man, and for Taunton for having the foresight to take a camera to Sam's shop, which has now been moved off of the site.

Mark DeCou

This writing is protected by copyright M.A. DeCou 1-19-2008, all rights reserved. I stole the picture of the dvd cover from the internet. Sorry.