Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Four Guys, Seven Days & Four Maloof Inspired Rockers

Four woodworkers came from Canada, Wisconsin, Texas and Alabama to my studio in Columbus, Georgia to build their “bucket list” rocker with me October 25-31.

Day One
They all started with 8/4 and 10/4 prepared walnut stock stacked on their Hoffman and Hammer work benches. They began by crafting coopered seats so their seat could have that “Smile”. They cut the bevels in their seat boards and reinforced them with Festool Dominos. After cutting the seat to width they cut their notches in the seat to begin the signature joinery at the schools new SawStop using a Kreg miter gauge and a cross cut sled. Two other tasks also began. Charles’ assistant Mark McGowan worked with each woodworker individually gluing up sets of laminations to make their reverse curve rocker skids. Charles demonstrated spindle making using a bandsaw, patterns, Auriou Rasps, Microplanes and scrapers of various shapes and sizes. Seven spindles have to be made for each rocker. Learning to carve and reconcile a set of spindles is the primer for carving the entire chair.

The Taste of Columbus Lunch Tour began with all the fix’ns at Country’s Bar-B-Que.

Day Two
The rasps were rasping out spindles while the coffee pot was brewing up another round on day two. Spindle making was at full tilt. I hated to slow spindle making, but progress had to be made on the rabbeting the seat joints. Each woodworker experienced rabbeting the joints on the superb Kreg Router Table. With great care in set up and with everyone understanding how to use the starter pin, the rabbets were just jumping off the table. Next, I demonstrated the process for laying out the seat bowl and removing waste at the band saw before glue-up. While each waited their turn at the shop’s Agazzani and Steel City band saws more spindle carving and skid glue-ups were taking place. Everyone got their first crack at using the set of three Festool RAS 115 grinders w/ Dust Collection we have at the school. They used the grinder to shape and waste some stock from some seat boards that would be hard to band saw unless you were Sam Maloof. Since no one decided to be a hero, they all successfully used the grinders. A long day indeed! Everyone dusted off and got a good nights sleep.

The Taste of Columbus Lunch Tour visited B. Merrell’s today for wings and good American food.

Day Three
Yes we do have glue! But first, we faired the back legs band sawn from the pattern and squared the arm and seat joint stems with a Lie-Nielsen hand plane. I love those hand tools! We cut the front profiles of the back legs at the band saws before gluing on adder blocks at the seat stems. These will be ready by afternoon for some tapering, dadoing, rounding and fitting to the seat joints. We fit the front legs to the seat joints by cutting the dados, rounding them over using router planes, sanding blocks and floats fit them to the rabbeted notch. Then we band sawed the profiles and turned them. Also more spindle making (started making 1/2” tenons) and as our friend from Wisconsin said, “Back to the rasp”! More skids, too! and Oh Yes! We glued up the seats!

The Taste of Columbus Tour wentUptown in Columbus to Minnie’s. Southern food served by ladies that call you honey and sugar and just make you feel welcome. Our woodworking friend from Ottawa really enjoyed the experience.

Day Four
We started grinding the seat bowls into the signature contours that make this a wonderful rocker. We had three going at one time while I worked on details with each woodworker. After drilling holes with the Miller Dowel Bit and driving Spax screws we were all legged up by the end of the day. Time for a major celebration! Yesssssss!

The Taste of Columbus Lunch Tour had a treat at our place to go eat lunch in Columbus for the last 60 years. Dinglewood Pharmacy. This is the home of the “Scrambled Dog”. They took pictures of it, ate them and lived to tell about the experience.
Day Five
I showed the guys how to fit, band saw and sculpt a Maloof Inspired arm. We worked at that for most of the day!
We also worked on seat, and leg refinements, spindle reconciling and gluing transitions. They were happy but tired when they scurried out at the end of the day.

The Taste of Columbus Lunch Tour enjoyed generic Mexican at El Carrizo. This was on my dime!

Day Six
Everybody worked on arms, skids, spindles, and such before starting on headrests. We fit them by mitering them at the table saw. Then cut the front back and bottom profiles before, drilling the seat and headrest mortises. A full catch-up day of woodworking!

The Taste of Columbus Lunch Tour visited Rose Hill Seafood for fried catfish, shrimp, broiled flounder and the like. My parent’s favorite!
Day Seven
Get-A Way Day! Airplanes and automobiles after an all day session on sculpting the chair. I went through every joint and how to sculpt them with several different tools. There is a secret to getting that monolithic flowing look that comes from fairing in the joints. Now they know it! We also worked on finishing sanding and recipes for that Maloof inspired finish. We took pictures, packed chairs for transporting and shared our joy over the project and experiences we have shared together.

We ate in the shop on this busy final day.

Wow! I just love teaching this chair! It is especially good in my new school facility consisting of a 500 square ft. bench room and a 1000 square ft. machine room. All with heat, AC and plenty of good light. I can also sleep in my own bed each night.

-- Charles Brock

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