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Sam Maloof dies at 93


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I just read that Sam Maloof has passed away at age 93. He was one of the great furniture designers and woodworkers of our time.

Many of his works have found there way into museums and he built a house in California that included a hand carved spiral staircase. Completely functional, no nails or metal fasteners.

This is a loss.

Jeff

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I just read that Sam Maloof has passed away at age 93. He was one of the great furniture designers and woodworkers of our time.

Many of his works have found there way into museums and he built a house in California that included a hand carved spiral staircase. Completely functional, no nails or metal fasteners.

This is a loss.

Jeff

Jeez, I thought he'd died years ago. He was a national treasure who influenced at least two generations of woodworkers. As a young man, I tried to emulate his work but I quickly learned that my mind was too rectilinear.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I tried to emulate his work but I quickly learned that my mind was too rectilinear.

Ditto, except I never even tried as I knew my limitations. I just don't have the "freehand" artistry needed for carved or "swoopy" pieces. I've only ever seen Maloof's work in magazines and books although I have seen firsthand, and jealously admired, many fine examples from other woodworkers who were obviously influenced by him.

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This was news that made me sit on my favorite stump in the woods and think about the universe..........

I was one of those young woodworkers that was influenced by Sam Maloof. I found him in about '73 or '74 in some furniture book in the stacks of MSU in East Lansing. I saw his shop when it was still in lemon groves outside of San Jose, before Silicon Valley. A more magical place I've never seen.........ever.......scent of lemons and walnut in the air.....never met the man, but soaked up a brief vibe.......

I designed these chairs.

I calculated the crotch (22deg), charted the elliptical sections (largely by eye), made the templates, transferred the lines, built the bending and clamping jigs, band sawed all the curves (based on cabriolet leg 90deg offsets), faired all lines, cut all joinery, fit, shaped, and finished every part. The back splats were bent laminate with the curve hitting about 97% of all folks perfectly in the lumbar, w/the spine comfortably nestled in between the splats. The splats were relatively thin, having gained strength from the bent laminate; they would flex ever so slightly (they weren't glued in the crosspieces), so it was a surprisingly *soft* back rest.

A copy of the walnut chair in vermilion (padouk) w/back splats of book matched bubinga won the 1978 Coconut Grove Arts Festival Best in Wood, seriously pissing off all the old farts from the universities and fancy pants galleries because I was a feisty 25 year old know it all that essentially acted like they were all lame, because they were...........

The walnut rocker back splats are book matched burl; you can't see the figure too well in these admittedly shitty digital takes from matted prints.

Joinery was all mortise and tenon, wedged w/end grain padouk.

The padouk rocker was wedged and pegged with bubinga.

The oak armless rocker has walnut wedged joints. Back spindles were steam bent, set in individually without glue so they flexed with movement. Same as the seat splats; they are slightly flexible and carved to fit the ass. Surprisingly comfy for all wood.

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I felt the same way when Wharton Esherick went to the future........giants among men, the kind that only come along once or twice a generation........

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This was news that made me sit on my favorite stump in the woods and think about the universe..........

I was one of those young woodworkers that was influenced by Sam Maloof. I found him in about '73 or '74 in some furniture book in the stacks of MSU in East Lansing. I saw his shop when it was still in lemon groves outside of San Jose, before Silicon Valley. A more magical place I've never seen.........ever.......scent of lemons and walnut in the air.....never met the man, but soaked up a brief vibe.......

I designed these chairs.

I calculated the crotch (22deg), charted the elliptical sections (largely by eye), made the templates, transferred the lines, built the bending and clamping jigs, band sawed all the curves (based on cabriolet leg 90deg offsets), faired all lines, cut all joinery, fit, shaped, and finished every part. The back splats were bent laminate with the curve hitting about 97% of all folks perfectly in the lumbar, w/the spine comfortably nestled in between the splats. The splats were relatively thin, having gained strength from the bent laminate; they would flex ever so slightly (they weren't glued in the crosspieces), so it was a surprisingly *soft* back rest.

A copy of the walnut chair in vermilion (padouk) w/back splats of book matched bubinga won the 1978 Coconut Grove Arts Festival Best in Wood, seriously pissing off all the old farts from the universities and fancy pants galleries because I was a feisty 25 year old know it all that essentially acted like they were all lame, because they were...........

The walnut rocker back splats are book matched burl; you can't see the figure too well in these admittedly shitty digital takes from matted prints.

Joinery was all mortise and tenon, wedged w/end grain padouk.

The padouk rocker was wedged and pegged with bubinga.

The oak armless rocker has walnut wedged joints. Back spindles were steam bent, set in individually without glue so they flexed with movement. Same as the seat splats; they are slightly flexible and carved to fit the ass. Surprisingly comfy for all wood.

Click to Enlarge
tn_2009525181225_walnutparlorrockerfront.jpg

13 KB

Click to Enlarge
tn_2009525181352_walnutparlorrockerrear.jpg

14.94 KB

Click to Enlarge
tn_200952518148_redoakarmless.jpg

19.2 KB

I felt the same way when Wharton Esherick went to the future........giants among men, the kind that only come along once or twice a generation........

Amazing, actually. You may have settled into the wrong career.

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Whatever I had available. I've built steam chambers out of plywood, foam panels, and in at least one instance, solid oak boards (we had a lot of green oak at the time.....). I've also taken 8" pvc pipe, capped one end, fit the other end with a compression fitting that I attached a flex copper pipe to.

The steam generator is my canning pressure cooker; I drilled and tapped a hole in the lid that accommodated another compression fitting. Flex copper from the cooker to the PVC tube.

Most of the bends are laminate though. Bent laminate is vastly preferrable to steam bending; you can accurately calculate the outcome, it's stronger, etc.

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