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Sam Maloof

Spend a day with America’s quintessential chairmaker and learn a few tricks along the way.

  • A Master Craftsman

    Sam Maloof was an icon of American furnituremaking. He crafted over 500 original furniture designs during his career. WOOD Magazine spent time with Sam a few years ago. Here's what we learned. Download the entire article for free at the end of the slide show.

  • Wonderful Wood

    "I don't have to look for lumber, it finds me," Sam Maloof says. As a result, he neeeds four buildings to store his stash. Luckily, southern California offered ideal storage conditions: low humidity and moderate temperatures.

  • Templates to Ensure Success

    You won't find any jigs in Sam's shop, but you can't miss the plywood templates that hang everywhere space allows. Some are decades old, and still see regular use. Many bear the name of the original buyer of that style chair and provide a unique record of his clients.

  • Bandsaw Sculpting with a Master's Touch

    Carefully eyeing his layout lines, Sam begins shaping the blank for a chair arm. He pivots and turns the arm as he works to follow the lines and create compound curves.

  • Bandsaw Sculpting with a Master's Touch

    After about five minutes, Sam has transformed a rough blank into an arm that is ready for installation. He'll create the mirror image from the other blank, deftly matching the shapes as he works.

  • Anatomy of a Maloof Rocker Seat

    Beveling the edges of each seat board creates a contour that yields a more comfortable shape while requiring less shaping. Keeping the edges at 90-degrees simplifies leg joinery.

  • The Dado-and-Rabbet Joint

    This unique joint attaches the front and back legs to the seat. The pieces interlock to form a twist-resistant joint with lots of glue surface.

  • The Dado-and-Rabbet Joint

    A couple of screws, covered by plugs, add strength to withstand long-term use. After assembly, rasps and files blend all the surfaces together.

  • Handwork

    Traditional hand tools get a workout in Sam's shop. Sam and the boys commonly use rasps, files, riflers, sandpaper, and scrapers to refine the rough shapes into finished form.

  • The Boys: Sam's Partners in Furnituremaking Heaven

    David Wade applies Sam's special finish to a decades-old chair sent in for refurbishing.

  • The Boys: Sam's Partners in Furnituremaking Heaven

    Larry White, left, and Mike Johnson shape new chairs still under construction.

  • Free Feature

    Download this free WOOD Magazine article about Sam Maloof.

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