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.


Shannon said...

So the 120 hour question is: how does it feel when you sit down? Have you picked out a place of honor in the house yet? Congrats for knocking this icon off your bucket list.

chuck said...

Just a beautiful job of building your rocker. I like your all walnut theme. The more you add to it the further you get away from what brings most fine woodworkers to this iconic rocker and that's the lines. I'm looking forward to seeing the finished chair. Have you rocked in it yet? You deserve a major celebration.

Vic Hubbard said...

Same question as Shannon's - how's the fit? Beautifully done Brad!!!

Tico said...

Thanks for the tip about the Rockler jig. I can use it, for sure.

Congratulations an great project carried through successfully.

It's funny about Sam Maloof's chairs. He was such a busy man, it seems, that, other than for photo set-ups, he probably didn't sit around very much.