Yesterday I finished shaping the rockers (with the exception of the back legs). I started by sketching out the parts that would be sculpted into the legs and the ends of the rockers. I did this just by eye, and then cut the patterns using the band saw.
Once cut, I did some sanding and then routed a 1/4” radius on all edges (except where the legs meet the rocker). I found that it took longer to do the tool setup then to actually cut the wood!
At this point, the rockers were finally starting to look like real rockers. I used files and a microplane to shape the ends of the rockers. The maple laminate looks great popping through the walnut. I used the sander to adjust the curves and make sure the figures matched on each rocker. The cyma curves make the rockers look like a pair of snakes.
I took a 1/2" dowel and sanded it to a smaller diameter. The dowel was used to hold the rocker in place so that I could shape the rocker to the front leg. The smaller diameter prevents it from sticking in the hole. I also used a clamp to hold the back leg in place. Again using files, microplane, and sandpaper, I sculpted the front leg transition. There is a hard line that starts on the inside of the leg and then spirals around the front towards the bottom-outside edge. The hard line then softens into the curve of the rocker. This is all a matter of taste and you can make the design however you want. Again, my goal was to make the chair as close to the Maloof design as possible.
I wanted the back legs to be joined before I started the sculpting. That is to ensure that the transitions are in the correct orientation. To install the rockers, I turned the chair upside down on my bench. I used an old towel to pad the bench and avoid scratching the arms. My workmate bench turns out to be the perfect height because the ears of the chair do not touch the floor. I clamped the rockers to the legs, again using the small dowels on the front legs. Then I used an 8 degree jig to properly align the rockers and to make sure they are centered. The jig is simple to make and explained in the Brock instructions. I ran into a problem here because the back legs were not parallel with the rocker transitions. This created gaps in the joint. It’s not an easy thing to correct because the leg is at a compound angle with respect to the transitions, and the transitions have a slight curve. It took quite some time to file and sand the leg to the point where it mated correctly
Once the rockers were correctly oriented, I marked a line along the side of the rocker and back leg to show where the connecting dowel should go. I used my Dowel-It tool to guide the 1/2" drill through the rocker and into the back leg. Note that Maloof did not drill through the rocker. He somehow managed to install the rockers onto dowels even though they are at different angles. The Brock method is easier. The next step was to mix up some epoxy, insert the dowels, and then clamp the rockers into place. The dowels were made from 1/2" oak stock. I fluted and chamfered the front leg dowels. The back leg dowels were not fluted on the ends that stick out of the rockers. I did this because I wanted the dowel to be perfectly flush with the hole where it exits the rocker. The back leg dowels were cut extra-long so they stick out during gluing. After the epoxy dried, I sawed them off flush and sanded.
Now the chair is essentially complete! I brought the chair inside and took it for a test drive. It rocks just fine! No creaks or pops. It feels very nice to the touch. Today I plan to complete the sculpting of the back leg transitions. Next week I will continue to sand the whole chair, and next weekend I hope to start applying the finish.
Lesson Learned: During all my shaping and sanding yesterday, I neglected to wear a mask. This was a big mistake as the walnut dust caused severe irritation of my sinuses. Always wear a mask!