Maloof: Then I just cut ________ on the bandsaw

Maloof: Then I just cut ________ on the bandsaw
Ive been watching/studying and rewatching/studying the Fine Woodworking Video Workshop tape Sam Maloof - Woodworking Profile. Its like watching a slight of hand artist up close and in slow motion, as Mr. Maloof goes over the key steps in making one of his rocking chairs, noting important details and reasons for each operation from stock prep through joinery, shaping and finishing. The tape is 55 minutes long and better than half of that is on his chair making methods. If I had to describe the tape in one word it word be Revelations. He reveals the answers to so many of my How the hell does he do THAT?! questions.
Im watching, remote in hand - ready to pause and rewind, taking notes and doing sketches - 3 degrees like this on this piece, 3 degrees but like this on this piece and 3 degrees like this, but only on this edge. And when he sticks them all together hes got a squashed down W - the rough front profile of his chair seat. Ah - so thats how he does it. NOW its obvious. Hell, I could do that.
But its his Then I just cut (fill in the blank) - on the bandsaw. where it starts getting questionable that I can do that. With one of those 3 degree flat edges on the bandsaw table he cuts the side profile shape on the center board. Slicing through walnut like the blades following an unseen template, with his fingers dangerously close to all those fast moving, obviously sharp, TEETH. Flip it over and do it again on this side. he says and it takes him about as long to do it as it took to say it.
Through most of the process he tells you and shows you what he does, why and how. With the exception of some special router bits he has custom made for his 3 degrees (sometimes 4,5 or 6 degrees) joints he uses machines found in even a hobbyists shop - joiner/jointer, planer, table saw, drill press (OK so he uses a horizontal boring machine - and a very old one at that), bandsaw and a hand held router. Hes got plywood patterns for the various components so almost everything is just cutting close to the line.
UNTIL he gets to the arms.
If youve ever tried to bandsaw a piece of stock with a bow, twist or any other deformity that keeps the bottom face of the piece FLAT on the table you probably know what can happen - and sometimes that aint pretty. Im talking 3 foot vertical, 5 foot horizontal jumping, arms waving, vocal cords straining, sphincter clenching, heart pounding, eye popping, pure adrenaline pumping terror. And thats if youre lucky. You could be bleeding profusely and/or looking for body parts to pick up BEFORE rushing to the emergency room. Hes freehanding some pretty complicated cuts - with just the far corner of the stock on the table - a single point of contact - and he makes it look so effortless.
Now he does warn the viewer that YOU should NEVER do what hes about to do and repeats the warning as he makes repeated shaping cuts, revealing to you the shape he has in his mind. Damn - its such a pleasure to watch a master of the high wire perform -without a net. Whats really amazing is that hes only smashed the tip of one finger between the stock and the bandsaw table top and that mustve been fairly early on.
If youve admired Mr. Maloofs rocking chairs or any of his other wood works you really should watch this tape. Youll learn a lot -about how he does things and about the man. Though woodworking is what hes best known for hes got his priorities - family first, friends next and then woodworking.
The ISBN number for this tape is 0-942391-26-8 and its about $20 US, available from Taunton Books & Video or through Rockler, Lee Valley, WoodCraft or maybe (JOAT - you listening?) - your local library..
charliel b
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Great review Charlie and it sounds like a worthy investment. As for his free-handing on the bandsaw, yes it's dangerous but he's also had years of experience too. I've not free-handed anything so large as what he does when making his chairs but I did do some smaller practice pieces using up some scraps.
I'm not telling anyone to do it but of all the tailed machines in the shop, I consider the bandsaw one of the safest to use. There is minimum exposure to the blade if the guard is used and its designed to do exactly as he demonstrates - he's not pushing any limits on the bandsaw machinery. Proof is in the pudding, with safe practices and knowledge of the limitations of the machinery - you can do it as he does.
Just be prepared to say "Chuck it" if the piece binds and just get out of its way. No piece of wood is worth an accident. Practice on reasonably sized pieces so you can get the feel of the operation. To small and its dangerous (note all his pieces were mid-sized to large), to large and its awkward, heavy and can twist if you're not in full control. I have a badly bent blade that can attest to that... And if anything, build up confidence by making a series of dry runs. Power off, push the stock thru (next to the blade) looking for obstructions, awkward positions you may end up in and work the motions out as you would on a practice golf swing - then apply power.
Like doing end grain on a jointer and not having it blow out - learn the tricks of the trade by watching the masters, do it safely and have an exit figured out for the what-if situation.
Again, great review and I wish I had a bandsaw the size he uses - and the room to hold it...
Bob S.

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Sam is a true master. See my sig... DD "It's easy when you know how..." Johnny Shines
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There is a special advantage to those of us woodworkers living in Southern California and that is we all live within driving distance of Sam Maloofs shop and can attend his workshops without to much trouble. I have had the opportunity to met Sam on several occasions and have taken one of his workshops. He is a delightful man is more than willing to tell you his "secrets". I have also made several Maloof style rockers (have one half way finished right now) and only use the bandsaw for shaping on the bottom of the arms. The rest of the shaping I do with a body grinder and a 36 grit disk. Sure it takes a little longer and makes a little more dust but I am very fond of all ten of my fingers. I made 1 seat using the three degree technique but soon discovered it had a really high PITA (Pain in the Ass) factor. For the rest I just glued up a flat seat and did some shaping with the grinder and came up with basically the same result. If you have any questions on any of the other procedures please let me know and I'll try to explain it, As far as the video goes, he doesn't really go into the most confusing part which is the joinery on the rear legs. Good Luck on your chair, Elton
"It's not the thing you fling. It's the fling itself."
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Elton,
Here in Texas, we have guy that went to some of Maloof's workshops and now is making Maloof style rocking chairs out of Mesquite. I saw him using a curved, tungsten carbide, grinding disc on a small angle grinder to get a lot of the curved joints and seat on his "Maloof" rockers. It worked great. In fact, I am going to buy one next week. Check out the "A" series - http://shop.woodcraft.com/Woodcraft/product_family.asp?family%5Fid 6&giftlse&mscssid=620F4E143D43F4A74A97F94A5F3BC7
Sorry, watch the wrap.
Preston

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Hello there,

I love the idea of doing Fine Woodworking with an angle grinder and a 36 grit disk!
:).
Thanks,
David.
Every neighbourhood has one, in mine, I'm him.
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haven't seen any updates in awhile, how's your bench going?
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The base unit with the through drawers is still sitting on the shop floor waiting for the top to get built. The apron stock has been milled and cut to lengths and the vise jaws are cut and almost ready to use. Still having a mental block about cutting the dovetails in the apron parts. Kid projects are also a good excuse to put off the dovetails.
But I did get a PAX dovetail saw that can cut deep enough for the 2 inch (aka 8/4) apron parts - the dozuki and the "what was I thinking when I blew that much on a LN DT saw" saw couldn't make the depth. Thought about the bandsaw but opted for handcutting (read: used that as an excuse to procrastinate some more).
And I have been practicing with the PAX DT - cut the pencil line, leave the pencil line on the left side of the kerf, leave the pencil line on the right side of the kerf and cutting to the scribe lines - front and back. I've got 'til February to finish the bench - in less than a year!
And I made a nice saw till for the two PAXs, the LN, a Disston dovetail saw, the dozuki and a japanese DT saw.
When I finish helping a kid make oak and ipe handles for his plywood sword I promise I'll get right on the bench top, aprons and vise installation - honest.
charlie b
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I knew you'd been keeping busy, I was just curious. The detailed descriptions you've gone into are very good reading, so I guess I'm just hungry for the "next chapter" hehe. I'm sure you're more anxious than anyone else, though.
I am hopefully going to tackle and complete the installation of the Vertias twin-screw vise on my Sam Allen joiner's bench today. Now that it is mostly complete, I can't help feeling a little unsatisfied that it isn't massive hard maple, etc. etc. But, you have to make do, I suppose. Functionality wins this round in bench building for me. Maybe in 10 years I'll be ready to go whole hog and make a "real" woodworking bench hehe.
Mike

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...

Yeah, so what's so hard about that?
The ability to "just cut it" is what separates the talented craftsman from the rest of us hacks.
It is why some people turn out works of are on cheap tools and some of us struggle to get two boars the same size on the top of the line equipment.
I know how to make fine furniture as well as many craftsman. My brain knows exactly what cuts to make and what tools to use. My brain can read plans also. I just can't get the damned hands to go along with it though. It's all in the hands.
Thanks for the post Charlie. Rather thought provoking. Ed snipped-for-privacy@snet.net http://pages.cthome.net/edhome
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:
<snipped>

Now that sounds kinky.
-- Jack Novak Buffalo, NY - USA (Remove "SPAM" from email address to reply)
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Damn. I'm glad I'm not the only one who's had that thought.
And the worst part is, even if others admire it, the brain knows that the hands haven't lived up to its standards.
wrote:

-- jc Published e-mail address is strictly for spam collection. If e-mailing me, please use jc631 at optonline dot net
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wrote:

I like the part where he picks up a stick in one hand and a router in the other and just starts grinding away the wood _freehanded._
(And on a totally unrelated note: How's that mother of a bench coming along?)
Michael
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