Maloof Style Lounge Rocker

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Introduction: Maloof Style Lounge Rocker

About: Amateur woodworker and student

This project may look intimidating at first, but there isn’t much to it because in the end, you’re just cutting a few pieces and assembling them together: no complicated joinery but a rewarding feeling of accomplishment in the end !

Step 1: Materials

The first you’ll need is wood. You could use a lot of different kinds of wood for this project, but l recommend you use a hard wood like white oak to make this piece stronger. This being my first lounge rocker, I didn’t want to go fancy on the wood, so I used pine, which ( although being a soft wood ) worked really well.
I got my wood off the French equivalent of Craigslist and it ended up costing me ten bucks for two 1 and a half inch thick 30 by 280cm boards, which is plenty enough for this project.
You can also get your wood at any big box store, but it’ll end up probably costing you a lot more.
You’ll also need some plywood, which was the most expensive part of the build for me, given I hadn’t some scrap piece laying around !
You’re also going to need some fabric and some foam. I got mine at a specialized store, but you can also find some on the internet.

Step 2: The Tools

For this entire project, I used only a drill, a jigsaw and a few hand tools, like a spokeshave and some files. If you have a bandsaw, it would speed things up a bit, but a jigsaw works just as well. You could use any tool you have for shaping, but I find a spokeshave and a drawknife to be the best combination.

Step 3: The Templates


The first thing I did before starting, was going to the internet to look at pictures of some of Sam Maloof’s lounge rockers to get an idea of the general shape and of the overall lines of the piece.
Then I got to desk and started drawing to get an even preciser idea of what I was going for. When I had it all worked out, I made a sketch showing some views of the piece 10 times smaller than it was going to be, as reference for the templates.
I then simply scaled it up to place it on some thick paper and cut it out, I could then transfer my templates onto some plywood and cut it out using a jigsaw. This way, you could work on your template with some rasps, files and sandpaper, to make it the exact shape you want, and it is going to last longer.

Step 4: Cutting the Pieces

Once you’ve got your templates, you simply trace the outside of it onto the wood you want to make your piece out of and then cut it out using a jigsaw. It would be ideal to use a bandsaw for this if you own one, but a lot of people ( including me ) don’t have one.
When you cut, don’t cut directly to your line, but one or two mm next to it, so there’s room for error.
There are 17 pieces to cut :
the front legs ( x2 )
The back legs ( x2 )
The leg supports ( x2 )
The back supports ( x2 )
The armrests ( x2 )
The rockers ( x2 )
The cross supports ( x3 )
The headrest
The front cross support

Step 5: Shaping the Pieces


To me, this is the most fun part of the whole build. You just need to take either rasps, files, a drawknife, a spokeschave or any tool you like to go ahead and shape your pieces the way you want them to. This is the moment, when the extra mm or two you left on your pieces pays off, because it leaves you with some more room to work with if you make a mistake.

Step 6: Assembly

To assemble my pieces, I mostly used some dowels and some glue, because to me, it is the easiest way to join two pieces of wood together, but still having a strong joint, because in this build, strength is really important, given you don’t want to fall trough your work... As I said earlier, dowels are also really easy to install : you just need to make an aligned hole in the top and bottom piece, place the correct sized dowel in that hole and pound the other piece on it. I used two dowels in each joint for strength.

The other joint I used is a cross halving joint, but I’m not going to go into much detail on this one, because you can find some great videos on the internet, showing to do it much better than I would.

Step 7: The Cushions

Once everything is assembled, you’ll need to cut some plywood to fit into the openings left inside the wood structure of the piece.
When their are cut to size and fit into the openings, you can start to work on the cushions. You’re first going to have to cut your foam to size, so it fits over the plywood. I put some 45 degree angles on them to make them come together nicely, but it’s completely up to you.
To finish them, you’ll just need to cut your fabric to size and put some over the foam. You can then use a staple gun to secure it tightly from the back because you staple into the plywood.

Step 8:

Now comes everybody’s favorite part of the build: sanding ! I started off at an 80 grit sandpaper and went up to 500.
After sanding, I applied three coats of danish oil and waxed the whole rocker. I find this combination to work best for me, but again, the finishing process depends on what you want.

Step 9: Lay Back and Enjoy !

That’s it ! Your Maloof style lounge rocker is done !
Thank’s for reading this instructable, and if you liked it, don’t forget to vote for it in the “first time author” contest, since this is the first time I wrote an Instructable and in the “homemade gifts” contest since this was a present for my father.

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    3 Discussions

    I love this instructable, I want to make gifts for my sons and their wives. These will be great, Thank you !

    Really nice!

    That looks really nice. My dad would love to have one of these. I might have to try to make one.