custom wooden rocking chair blog

Custom wooden rocking chair design & build blog

Finished zebrawood back braces

Good day in the shop today, Joel was excited to draw and explain a leg design that he had been thinking about. So he drew it and drew it again but better and we both got excited. You can see the design below a twist on the Maloof style pedestal table. Not only are we going to be desiging this new leg design we are going to re-design the pedestal itself to have 6 legs and maybe even 8 in the future. 

As with almost every day we were working on a chair, this one is a large with the new Inspiration 2.0 headrest design, we resawed another beautiful piece of zebra wood I had collected this time using it as the front lamination and wow will it look good!

zebrawood rockign chair

Thanks for having a look, hope you learned something new just like we do every single day. We really feel great accomplishment in building these custom rocking chairs. We now have experience on how this style of joinery and lines are able to be worked, so keep an eye out for some unique and beautiful designs coming your way.

New design - Maloof side tables

Well we can't be working on fine furniture everyday, today I spent the day out in the sun screwing down deck boards, I used the Kreg jig that put the screws in from the side at an angle, worked well!

I did manage to snap d a few pictures of the side tables we recently designed and built which turned out fantastic, all the sanding time really pays off when it comes to finishing.

I will have some good quality shots up soon..... please stand by

Thanks again everyone for following and the kind e-mails, it's nice to know people appreciate good quality furniture

Threaded inserts

Today we finally decided on a fastening system using a threaded insert and a large head bolt. By using this type of attachment system we allow the top to freely have natural wood movement. Also the top can be removed for transport or storage.

We also worked on our second Inspiration 2.0 rocking chair, this time around were building a large with zebrawood back braces facing the front.

Here you can see the rear legs clamped to the seat where they remain for about 12 hours then the clamps come off.

Also shown carved and rough sanded seat and rough shaped front legs needing some sanding attention before they can get glued to the seat.

Re-sawing back brace laminations

Today was a busy day, we began our second newly designed Inspiration 2.0 rocking chair with zebra wood. This time around were building a large size with the zebrawood as the front laminations. 

We do this by slicing a piece of zebrawood at about 2mm thick with the band saw, it's a nerve racking procedure let me tell you!

zebrawood back braces

walnut rocking chair back braces

Sculpted side table progress

Well now that we've finished the Inspiration 2.0 rocking chair we can focus our attention to finishing our newly designed side tables.

We decided to build the drawers using a reinforced rabbit joint, which means we add 2 screws to the side on the drawers at the joints. We do not frown on using screws in our work, they actually are a great design / style that we love. You also can't deny the strength they add to almost any joint. Pictures show 1.5'' screws plugged with 1/2'' Ebony plugs.

We've now built the drawers, they were built with solid Maple bottoms to match the 3/4'' Maple sides and back, if you have such a beautiful drawer why would you use a plywood bottom, well because it's easy....... well not around here we take the extra time to fine tune the details.

What separates furniture and fine furniture?  Details!

Knobs have not been completed..... one of many details!

maloof pinned drawersreinforced ebony plugged screws

side tables work in progress

small pedestal

maloof side tables

side table drawers

ebony plugs

walnut side tables

Custom wooden rocking chair photo shoot

custom rocking photo shoot

Today we had a photo shoot of our latest chair the Inspiration 2.0 which is built from Walnut and Zebrawood and Ebony.

Here is a picture of where the photo magic happens, with out much photography knowledge but with some common sense we have been able to pull off some nice pictures, hopefully soon we will be able to invest in some better photography lights, but for now the chairs speak for themselves.

If you want more detail pictures of this chair please visit our gallery.

coopered headrest

We designed a more Maloof inspired design on the headrest and legs. 

As you can see the legs extend past the headrest and have hand shaped contours that blend the headrest into the legs.

We still cooper the headrest to allow for a deep comfort curve and a grain direction that matches the legs, seat and ams.

walnut rocking chair

walnut rocking chair maloof

rocking chair back

Here we can see the grain matched Zebra wood back braces, we used a 1'' thick piece of zebra wood sliced it into strips 2.29mm thick, using them at the 4th lamination in the back brace.

Sculpted side table progress

Still working on the pedestal side table, we decided to do a carved drawer pull, so were using 2'' walnut lumber to get a drawer face that is 3/4'' thick and using the extra thickness to create a pull that is sculpted into the drawer face.

This is considered messy around here, clean up..... come on!

walnut pedestal

Test fitting drawer face with the sides, which will be a reinforced rabbit joint screwed and plugged.

Drawer pull partly shaped, much more sanding and scraping to go!

The first maloof style headrest rocking chair is almost complete, the design came out really great

Close up of the famous Maloof joint, we do it a bit different by using a 1/2'' rabbit bit and 3/4'' round over, we add strength and style adding our own unique style.

Headrest close up, thanks to the Veritas bevel up smoother hand plane, we have perfect glue ups yielding a chair that will last for a very very long time!

August 14th 2010

Today early I attached the rockers to the rocking chair which involves pre drilling some holes yadda yadda yadda mount the rockers with screws. Then remove one screw at a time and " fix " the joint, means making it a perfect union where the leg meets the rocker. We do this by passing an abrasive between the leg and rocker many many times until it's perfect! The leg joint is then primed with epoxy, scraped off then epoxy re applied, a little on the screw and voila the chair is done.......right? 

rocking chair sanding joints

Pictured here mounted with clamps to the edge of the assembly table for shaping on the rocker tails, and shaping / sanding leg rocker joint.

zebrawood back braces

Grain matched zebrawood on the back of the back braces, what an interesting grain it has, and the colours complement the walnut. 

rocking chair progress

leg rocker transtion

rocking chair leg

rocking chair rockers

Leg to rocker joints sanded to 150 grit, still left 220,320,400,500,wool burnish.

rocking chair progress

zebrawood rocking chair

Walnut & Zebrawood custom wooden rocking chair progress

Well were almost kinda on the home stretch, there's just so many steps to making a rocking chair. Every step is as important as the one before and after it. There are places in the chair and some steps where you can allow for less wood here a little extra there and then deal with it during the shaping process. Then there's the spots that must be done this exact way perfect the first time......... most steps are like that.

Our first chair incorporating Zebra wood in the back braces is turing out to be a very beautiful and unique chair. 

We have even mixed the styles of Hal Taylor and Sam Maloof in the headrest. We examined, watched, and read as much as we could about Sam's chairs not just his rocking chairs but everything he has to offer. First off wow impressive, his work ethic is something else. To produce the # of pieces and studio quality pieces as he did shows you what can be accomplished when you are truly passionate about what your doing.

August 12th 2010

Well we've been hard at work, we have now attached the arms, shaped the back braces, and shaped the rockers. Check out the picture with the Zebra wood!!!

We are almost ready to glue up the headrest, but of course lot's of sanding first all the way to a polish with a wool pad, but how it makes the wood glow!

Attaching arms, via clamp pressure and 4'' screw in the back

rocking chair fitting headrest

Sitting on rockers, back shot showing grain matched Zebra wood back braces

zebrawood grain matched

How do you make wood glow? Spend about 30 minutes sanding and polishing a piece of wood about 6'' by 24''

Sanding steps....... Too many to list!

August 8th 2010

DSC_1392Well about 6 hours of sanding today can you tell?  Did't think so! 

The design looks great, simple flowing trunk design with a single drawer.

maloof style tung and grooveHere is the tung and grove post design, you can see the legs have a center tung that slides into the groove that goes all the way up the post. 

Very strong joint to say the least, you can see how the post is shaped to flow into the center post and onto the next leg.

side table progressEven before finish goes on you can see how beautiful Walnut lumber is, every piece has something new and exciting to look at.

first time zebrawood back bracesFront and back of the newest rocking chair, back braces have been laid out just to show how things will look, and to make sure grain matching was done in proper order. Zebrawood on the back, Walnut on the front.

dry fit back braces

A day of finishing and photography

Today was a slower day, working on this website I finally spent some time taking some pictures of 2 different tables we had finished. We have been using them and there were a few imperfections so I gave them a quick once over before the photo shoot.

DSC_1326Sanded with 1000grit, polished with a wool pad now soaking in our 3 part wipe on wipe off finish, time for a 20 minute break.

I was just resting my eyes, I swear... better get that finish wiped off

rubbed bown walnut tableAhh just in time table fully wiped down, what beautiful grain!

maloof style cherry coffee table

A few shots I took today

cherry coffee table maloof inspiredhand rubbed walnut table

Walnut pedestal detail

Custom Zebrawood inspiration 2.0 rocking chair progress

Today was a long day in the shop put in about 10 hours, but you do get a lot done! Today was almost all working on our newest rocking chair. We decided to do something a little different but the same. We designed this chair to have legs the extend beyond the top of the head rest, also the head rest to curved opposite compared to our other rocker to date.

rocking chair back bracesWe now have our seven back braces cleaned up after coming out of the form we use to bend them with.

They feature 3 layers of Walnut and a back layer on a special piece of Zebrawood I found at Burlington Exotic Woods

The fronts and backs are grain matched, by slicing a single piece of lumber into 8 thin strips, paying close attention to glue up to keep everything in order.

walnut zebra wood

Also pictured are the front legs after a few hours of work on them to shape and sand them to about 90% finished.


work tableHand planing arm adder block before attaching to leg with glue and 4'' screw.

August 5th 2010

Today we focused on the Walnut Inspiration rocking chair we also continued on our Maloof inspired side tables. Routing, sanding and even just gazing at the overall appearance, while adjust the design and fairing the curves we discussed the idea of a coat rack using the same style and joint structure. So look out for a Maloof inspired coat rack in the near future.

Here Joel is hand planing the front leg before a glue up to ensure a strong invisible joint. We use Veritas made in Canada hand planes from Lee Valley both Canadian companies and both with exceptional products.


In this next photo we are test fitting the front leg joint, this demonstrates the Maloof style seat joint which is famous for its strength and good looks.




This shows the rear leg joint that has been fitted to the seat, we now kerf the top and bottom of the leg to allow us to continue shaping the leg. You can see the inside of the joint is cut at an angle of 6 degrees to cant the legs out towards the top. By this time the seat has been roughed out by hand, and the back brace holes have been routed.

August 4th 2010

Today we started a Walnut Inspiration rocking chair, i've included a few pictures. The show how we initially lay out and choose the lumber.


The back braces are built using a technique called bent lamination, where wood is cut into thin strips then placed in a form and glued back together to create a curved piece of wood that is very strong, yet flexible enough to contour to your back. 


Here we chose to use Zebra-wood as the initial layer to create a pleasing and unique contrast from the Walnut.


The next photo shows a set of rockers that have been cut into strips and glued in there form, they will remain under clamp pressure for about 24 hours.  Also the seat has had it's joints notched and rabbited half of the Maloof joint and rough caved.

The arms have been coped on the tables saw an ready for more shaping with the jointer, router, bandsaw and finally an angle grinder.


We have also been in the process of designing some side tables, they are built from Walnut and feature a sculpted pedestal base with a single drawer top that is 22'' x 22'' with a height of 25''