Saturday, June 26, 2010

Maloof Inspired Rocker, Finale

Well friends and neighbors, here it is, the complete and finished rocker. After many weekends of work, some re-work, lots of shaping and lots and lots of sanding it's finally finished. Quite a few of you have asked, and yes, it is very comfortable. The seat feels great, the back slats curve just right to support my back, the arm rests are just the right curve to fit, well at least to fit me. Last but not least, it looks great in my living room.

The rockers came out great, and with the chair upside down I was able to run sandpaper along the whole underside creating a smooth gentle curve to rock on. One of my favorite details is the transition from the back legs to the rockers, take a second to enlarge the picture and take a look at it, but pictures don't do it justice, come over and run your fingers along the curves.

The organic shape of this style of rocker is what draws people to it, and it's true, they just can't help but touch it.

I tried very hard to make the arms match and to edge each one with a nice sharp hard line. The smooth transition from the front legs into the arm is something people that have seen it coment on, it really wasn't that difficult thanks to the instruction on the DVD and book.

Shaping the front leg into the seat smoothly was challenging but the joint itself was easy and it fit perfectly with the two matching router bits that Mr. Brock recommends.

The crestrail is the most visible part of the chair and therefore the part I wanted the most srtiking grain on, when I unpacked my walnut the very first day I set this piece aside for the crestrail. I think I made the right choice.

I have commented on Mr. Brock's DVD/Book throughout the process of building this rocking chair only in a positive way, please be assured that I have no connections with Mr. Brock other than a nice Email he sent me after my first blog post. I was given the DVD/Book as a Christmas gift. I found the instruction and plans to be spot on, the templates and jigs described in the book are not overly complicated and very useful, I would not attempt a rocker of this complexity without them. I do have one criticism of the DVD though, there is alot of time spent watching Mr. Brock work with accompaning guitar music, while the music is good, I feel that I would have been better served by voice over description of the process. I do realize that this is Mr. Brock's first DVD and I haven't viewd his DVD on building a Maloof low back dining chair, maybe you won't agree with me, it is after all just my opinion, but yeah, less music, more naration please. Mr. Brock is a professional woodworker and instructor, I could not have even attempted this project without his product, thank you Charles, you helped push this woodworker to a new level.

"Little by little, one travels far." - J.R.R. Tolkien

Monday, June 14, 2010

Maloof Inspired Rocker, Charles Brock Plans, part 7

Last weekend I started work on one of the most elegant, and probably the most important part of the Maloof inspired rocker, the rockers. This part of the build is a departure from the rest of the chair, it requires some bent lamination. Mr. Brock adds a strip of maple and ebony to his rockers for emphasis, but I decided that I wanted to stick with my total walnut theme.
The book and DVD shows Mr. Brock slicing the laminations of the band saw with jointing the stock in between each cut and cleaning up the cut with a drum sander. I decided to use the thin strip cutting accessory from Rockler, this in combination with my glue line rip blade on my tablesaw makes for easily repeatable strip cutting without having to clean up the stock between each cut and cleaning up the bandsaw on the sander. You may say that the loss of 1/8th of an inch with each cut is unacceptable, but since I'm cutting along the width, not the thickness of the stock this is less of an issue. I marked a triangle on the stock so that I could keep the laminates in order after cutting.
I had previously created the bending form using the template included in the book using the cut off of the curve for a caul. The stock for the rockers is roughed to 1 1/2 inch thick so I made the form out of 2 thicknesses 3/4 inch of MDF attached to a backer board. I covered all the contact surfaces with packing tape to keep the glue from sticking to the form. Using Titebond II glue for the extended open time I coated the top side of all but the top laminate. After laying the laminates in order on the form I used the top caul to pull in the bend at the center, applying pressure with F style clamps. Adding a few clamps lets you work back and forth to bring the laminates into contact with the bending form. The most difficult part is to create the back bend on the end of the rocker, this again is done by pulling the laminates into the form using a series of clamps. I used a deadblow hammer to knock the laminates flat into the form as I went. The set up was left to sit overnight.
Using left over stock from the laminates adder blocks 6 inches long are attached to the rocker after it is removed from the form. This allow the sweeping transition to be created from the leg to the rockers. Using a posterboard template for the curves I rough cut the transition of the legs to the rockers on the bandsaw after aligning the attachment points. I used a round over bit in my small router to shape the outside of each rocker and a smaller round over bit on the inside edges. Once both rockers are roughed out I cut the legs so that they would sit on the transition blocks using the technique Mr. Brock shows in the DVD. After a little trimming and fitting the rockers are attached to the rockers using 1/2 inch oak dowels.
I let the rocker attachment dry for a week, hey I had things to do, I started shaping the rockers and the transitions. Again I used my new favorite carving tool, the microplane, to form the rocker to leg transitions and the shape the taper on the back curves of the rockers. After the microplane I stepped down to rasps and files to smooth out the transitions, following this I started hand sanding starting at 120 grit, progressing to 150, 180, 220, 320, and 400, I followed this with 3M pads, maroon, grey and finally white.
With this, the construction of the rocker is complete! It has been a long road, I started the first weekend in April and here it is, the middle of June, I estimate around 120 hours into this build already, what with remaking the back legs once and the front legs twice and taking my time. I've learned a lot about making chairs and rockers, and more shaping wood. I've watched the DVD over and over and poured through the book. I want to say that I would not have been able to do this if it wasn't for Charles Brock's efforts with his DVD/book and website.
The next and final post will go over finishing the rocker and lessons learned while building it. I'll share with you more of my thoughts on the DVD/book and lots of pics of the finished rocker.

"To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it." - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.