Saturday, January 24, 2015

January 2015 Meeting

Our first meeting of the year featured about 34 members eager to start the new year with a talk from Tim Mahoney discussing Sam Maloof Chairs.  Of course, before we get started it was time for the traditional round robin introductions.  I have to agree with Jamie that this is a good part of our meetings.  Having been in other seminars, classes, meetings, etc.  it's kind of nice to know a little bit about the other people around you.  That being said, we had several first time visitors -- welcome to you all!

Formal Business Meeting:

     As Jamie opened up the meeting she announced that next month marks the 6th. year anniversary of the club.  I know there were many who said a collection of woodworkers wouldn't survive here in the transient town of Las Vegas but we have and under her direction have grown to be the group we are today!
     As you know, the group is open to anyone interested in woodworking and we do have an optional yearly dues of $20.00.  We will begin to collect those in March or April.
     At every meeting we have a featured speaker or demonstrator.  Ted is in charge of lining those up for us and needs input from you to find out what you'd like to have at the meetings.  He's always looking for someone to step up to the plate and be the presenter for the month.  Next year's schedule is about half full so don't be shy --- volunteer for one.  As an added incentive, anyone who does a presentation gets an additional chance at the end of the year drawing for cash or gift certificates.  Ted can be reached at 702-269-0682 or his email which is:

     Other business news is the AWFS convention which will be here in July.  This is the largest woodworking show that is hosted by Las Vegas every other year.  Here is a LINK to the show, if you've never been it's a must see as virtually every tool you've ever heard of will be there for you to see in action.  There is an educational component to it as well that features well known woodworkers sharing their work and business oriented seminars as well.  Check that website for listings of the classes, pricing, and dates.  Although the cost is nominal and well worth it, Jamie mentioned that she can get a limited number of people into the fair, contact her if you're interested in that.

Featured Presenter -- Tim Mahoney:

Tim's woodworking journey started out with being a journeyman carpenter in Wisconsin.  Around 2007 he decided it was time to add making a Sam Maloof chair to his repertoire and began to search for a school that offered that.  It occurred to me as I was looking around the room, there may actually have been people at the meeting that have never heard of Sam Maloof.  Here is a LINK to this icon of woodwork and furniture making that most people of my time know about.  Although Tim found a school in Indiana and was all set to attend, the owner had a heart attack which; needless to say, cancelled that plan!  Not to be deterred, Tim contacted the man who was scheduled to teach the class and talked him into spending 2 weeks in Montana to learn the basics of creating the famous Maloof Rocker.  Tim brought albums of his experience in Montana that included fishing, scenery, and lots of good food in addition to the woodwork.

The Maloof chair is an example of sculptural work that Tim has also experienced in other areas.  Another project he told us about was working on a 1965, Chris Craft speedboat.  It ended up being named Cello because as the owner was talking with him during the work Tim mentioned that was was like working on a cello since there wasn't a square surface to be found!  Here's a LINK to that project from his website.
     In keeping with the sculptural, not a square corner to be found theme he has also tried his hand at being a luthier.  He makes and sells guitars and I'm not sure if this is the actual one he entered in the Design In Wood competition sponsored by the San Diego Fine Woodworking Association but being accepted there led to the making of the violin.  Having had several of my own pieces accepted into that competition I can imagine how he felt having his guitar win an award there.  As he and his wife were picking up the guitar after the show she casually mentioned that she'd like to have a violin!  Well, that led to him finding someone willing to teach him the ins and outs of making one that he presented to her six months later as a birthday present.  So, as you can see; Tim has worked in many aspects of our craft, from house construction to violin making.

The Maloof Chair:

    The design concept behind this chair is beauty and function, these chairs are extremely comfortable -- not your Cracker Barrel variety chair to be sure!   Sam created a furniture piece that was a true icon to anyone involved in woodwork during the 60's and 70's.  He, along with a few other notable furniture makers of the time like James Krenov and Art Espenet Carpenter stretched the boundaries of what had been done before them.  Sam was known for his unorthodox way of using a bandsaw that, as a junior high school shop teacher, I would never allow but it was used to turn out some beautiful work.  
The chairs are made with 1 3/4" thick material.  His approach is to do as many of the glue ups possible to get that phase of the work out of the way.  For example the crest rail at the top of the chair consists of 4 pieces that are coopered to achieve the needed curvature.  The same applies to the  4 or 5 pieces that make up the blank for the seat. These aren't coopered but the joinery for the legs and back are cut prior to lamination.  The slats for the back are laminated from 4 layers to achieve a final thickness of 3/8".  Using the form shown here, he can lay up two slats at a time using Titebond brand glue.  

     After as many parts are glued up as possible it's time to start the joinery.  They interlock together as you can see in this picture.  These are accomplished through the use of a router, jig, and specialized bits made by Whiteside.  I did a quick search of the router bits Tim mentioned in his talk that he uses to create this joinery.  Here's a LINK to a set of them available from Highland Woodworking.  As you can see, making this chair requires a great deal of time.  Someone asked him approximately how much time it took to make a chair such as this and he replied a couple hundred hours.  He estimated that 60% of that time is spent on the sculpting and sanding phase.  It's always interesting to ask for or give time estimates for a project.  It seems that with most woodworkers once you get into what you're doing time seems to not matter anymore if you're enjoying the process.

Slat Form

Assorted Files/Rasps

Templates and Carving/Sculpting Tools
After the main assemblies are glued up it's time to begin the more interesting phase of the chair.  According to Tim you need a good bandsaw, router and bits, an assortment of files, and a power grinder system to sculpt the seat.  He was able to make many of the templates to aid him in getting the parts to the basic shape required when he received his instruction from the man in Montana.

The parts will be sculpted/shaped after they are dry fit to see where the sculpted part of the joint comes together.  Tim will work to within about 1/8" of that and then glue the chair up leaving the final forming of the joint until they are assembled. 

     When it comes to fitting the rockers to the bottom of the legs you'll notice there is quite a bit of stock there.  That's achieved by making stack laminations on the runners for the legs to drop down into.  Every thing here needs to be scribed and fitted exactly.  Notice that he's laminated a piece of Maple into the runners on this chair to add a decorative feature -- nice!  After many hours of work it's time for the finish.  I think all of us can relate to that phase, now all the work is complete and when using clear oil finishes the beauty of the wood finally pops out.  He uses the traditional 3 part mixture of pure Tung Oil, Boiled Linseed Oil, and an oil based varnish developed by Sam Maloof.  Since I'm from the same era as him, there were a number of variations of this 3 part mix, one of which I still use today.  This finish can be purchased from Rockler if you don't want to mix up your own.  Here's a LINK to that, it's listed under Sam Maloof's name.

     Tims' presentation ended with many questions and probably half of us gave the chair a "test sit" to see how it fit.  Also the typical question arose: "how much does it cost?" If he gave a current price I missed that but did hear him say that during when the economy took its plunge (2008-2009) he sold some for $3,000 or so.  If you do the ever popular Google search you'll discover a number of sites and examples of this style of chair for sale.  It's a very popular project to build and several in our group mentioned that it was on their "bucket lists".

1 comment:

  1. This is a great share dear. I am also conducting business meeting to expand my small business but I do not have enough space for that and that is why I am thinking of hiring some meeting rooms.