custom wooden rocking chair blog

Custom wooden rocking chair design & build blog

Helping out a friend - One-of-a-kind Piano Urn

Over the past few weekend I've had a good friend of mine and his wife in the shop designing and building an urn that looks like a grand piano. I told Shawn i'd love to give him a hand to build an urn for his father. Shawn has been a good friend since I was a little boy, although I still feel like a little boy we're both getting older now, don't get me wrong 27 is not exactly close to the end but it's further then the beginning.I made sure he understood I wanted him to brush off his grade 12 woodworking skills because he would be building most of the project. So we put our minds to it, he wanted something to do with planes as his father was a pilot so we looked on google images relating to planes, urns, boxes. Then it popped into our heads why not make a miniature grand piano as the urn, his ashes could rest where the strings would be, with a top that opened on hinges, legs were turned on the lathe.

rough urn mini grand piano

zebrawood mini grand piano urn

mini walnut grand piano urn

mini grand piano urnWe use a mixture of Canadian Black Walnut, Zebrawood and Hollywood.

Custom rocking chair - Back brace bent lamination

In this time lapse video I am gluing up 4 flexible back braces for a custom wooden rocking chair. A back brace is built using 4 layers each layer being about 2.2mm thick, the top or front layer is Birdseye Maple the rest are Walnut. This chair will be Black Canadian Walnut thus the the Birdseye Maple will give a attractive and interesting contrast to the rest of the chair. We make sure to cut the fronts and backs from a single piece and keep everything in order so in the end we have a beautiful grain match.

I start by working close to my clamps, getting everything ready and going to it. I layout my 2 back braces apply glue between the layers and stack them in order. We glue up 2 back braces at a time, making sure there is no glue in between them!

Our technique uses a form, 90 degree up rights, a caul and a bunch of clamps.

The form is constructed from a template and each layer is flush trimmed to our initial piece until we have the thickness required. We use the 90 degree up rights to clamp against with a C clamp to make sure all the pieces are in alignment. The caul is use to distributed the clamping force while removing the issue of clamping marks, protecting our precious birds eye maple.

Custom Chair Design - Wood A Chair

We finished up our mot recent addition to our offerings, rightfully named the A CHAIR. The chair turned out surprisingly comfy, in fact the first reaction from someone sitting in this chair seems to be..... Oh it's comfortable!  The combination of the angled and curved backrest with the hand sculpted seat make you feel like there is no chair at all, although a chair can look beautiful if it is not comfortable then it's a bad chair! In this case really happy that we created a good chair. You can view more pictures in more detail of the custom wood A Chair in our gallery.

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Custom bar stool seat carving

In this video in my time lapse wood working series, I’m carving a Canadian Black Walnut seat.
I have already laid out the seat outline and drilled my depth holes as reference. I first use a kutzall coarse carbide disc to rough grind the seat. I find it best to remove material evenly over the entire seat.
Once I finish with the rough grinding, I switch to a 7’’ 60 grit sanding disc on my much larger and heavier ridgid grinder. This is a work out on the fore arms!
I then flip the seat over and do a little more rough grinding, then touch up the front of the seat where the back of your knees bend, this part of the send need to be a nice fair curve to add style and comfort.
Once I’m happy with the rough sanding I move on to the festool sander using 150grit.

The music provided for this video is from Watasun a band that I friend of mine is in, he plays a cajon and steel drums. I hope you enjoy the tune if you’d like to hear more of there music from WATASUN please visit there myspace page.

If you click on the video you can watch the it in HD on youtube

A-frame chair design and build

With the joints figured out, I can finally have a seat in the chair i've been working on with all my mite, but one can only rest for so long and I'm sure i'll be doing lot's of test sitting along the way.

custom wooden a-frame chair

The joints have been rough ground to shape with an angle grinder and kutzall disc, then I move on to the hand shaping with a nicholson #49 rasp.

hand shaped maloof joint chair seat

custom build a-frame walnut

I was able to do a lot of sanding with the legs off the chair and now is the time to glue and screw the chair together, everything looks good so far.

maloof joint leg glue up a-frame chair

Once the screws were added and plugged I moved on to glueing the two legs together at the top joint. The joint is made with a up spiral flush trim router bit, it leaves a mirror finish even on end grain, which is notorious for having tear out. Tear out is when pieces of the the wood chip off, one thing us woodworkers are always hoping does not happen. Also because this is an end grain joint the surface is very porous so the glue gets sucked away from the joint leaving a less then satisfactory joint. We tackle this issue by priming the joint with a layer of glue then removing it and applying a new skim coat just before clamping. 

Custom Walnut Display Unit

 Built from solid Canadian Black Walnut this will be one awesome custom piece of furniture.

beautiful canadian black walnut grain

On each end there are 3 shelves that get mounted into a tongue and groove joint reinforced with screws that are plugged with Ebony plugs and also a single centre support. Every piece of Walnut we begin with is a rough undressed bland looking piece of lumber, but once we start to dress it the beauty starts to show. Also because we take our time to arrange the grain we can create some very beautiful natural patterns, most people don't like the sanding process but I find that with a beautiful piece of lumber its full of surprises and i'm actually excited to do the sanding process to see the beauty reveal it's self.

walnut disply assembly

This was a large project requiring many pieces, cuts, holes, glue ups and finally were attaching the first piece after an " almost " final sand.

walnut side shelf attached

I've added the glue being careful not to create squeeze out everywhere messing up our beautiful sanding job. The screws then get added from the back side into the piece. Some would prefer not to use any screws in wood working, but a screw is nothing more then a steel dowel used right one will never know it's there and the added strength benefit is a major bonus especially in a piece that will receive as much daily use as a store display.

Walnut Display Unit

This is a  very large unit at 8' long 2' wide and about 54'' tall, built from solid Canadian Black Walnut this will be one beautiful custom piece of furniture which is also very functional.

maloof display

This is half the unit, it is made up of 2 of the exact pieces to make one large cabinet. The top still needs to be attached, the plugs smoothed, mount the drawer face and a bunch more sanding.


The shot above really shows off the unique and beautiful grain patterns in the Canadian Black Walnut, this is before our hand rubbed oil-resin finish is applied, because we sand up to 500grit ( compared to a mass produced piece typically sanded to 180 and some time 220 ).


Close up of the shelf supports, getting mounted for the first time, there are 64 shelf supports!


Here are the shelves still much work to do though.

Solid walnut shelves

shelf support custom walnut


Top attached and plugged

walnut 2 inch thick

Drawer face mounted.


My favourite piece!

beautiful canadian walnut grain

Almost there but still another half to go!

Custom A-Frame Chair Design and Build

I've been spending a few extra hours each day working on a custom A-frame chair that I saw in the book The Furniture of Sam Maloof, I have also talked to someone over at the Lumber Jocks Forum that has built this chair. I have actually wanted to build this chair for a while now but because I wanted to use the Maloof joint which from what I can tell has not been done before. This took some extra figuring before I could proceed.

custom chair design process tools


Here are some of the tools used during the design and build process. We have some templates, a bendable radius tool in the background.



custom a-frame chair build process

a-frame maloof joint custom wood chairHere is the chair so far, i've figured out the basic dimensions I want, height, seat height and width. I proceeded to create a seat, make a few Maloof joints and do some test fitting.

maloof seat joint custom a-frame chair

rough carving wood seat

maloof style rough carved seat

custom wooden a-frame chairHere is a close up of the leg seat joints before the sculpting process.

music chair custom wood







This picture shows the leg to seat joints that allow the strength to use this a-frame design.  This is just half of the Maloof joint the legs have a dado that mates perfectly.

Sanding & Assembling Walnut Frame and Panel

This time around in the time lapse woodworking series I'm sanding a pair of Canadian Black Walnut panels that will be assembled into a frame and panel. The panels have been re-sawed out of a 2'' thick board to allow for a beautiful book match, I showed the process in the previous video Bandsaw resaw - Canadian Black Walnut


I first start out  with 220 sandpaper on our festool RO150, then to 320, 400, 500 and finally a sheep wool pad to burnish and pull out all the remaining saw dust from the pores. By sanding with a special abralon pad ( 500 grit ) we are sanding down into the pores removing the fibres that would typically raise up and create a rough surface once finish is applied. It really amazes me and especially our customers how beautiful and shiny your can make a piece off wood without finish, and because of our sanding process out surface remains silky smooth with a natural look and feel. We will apply our hand rubbed oil-resin finish once the panel is assembled and the outer frame is sanded with the same process. Although our time lapse videos make it seem that custom fine woodworking is a speedy process it is not! I think to make this video was almost 2 hours of total working time.