Power sculpting/carved furniture


Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Established Member
31 Mar 2015
Reaction score
I like to challenge myself so I am planning to attempt to build a Maloof inspired rocker.
Has anyone attempted anything similar and have any tips regarding power carving, sculpting or sanding?
It looks very challenging to make even without the carving so I could use any advice or help anyone can offer.
No worries Matt, thanks anyway.
Should be a very interesting project when I eventually get started lol
Yeah, you're way braver than I! You may know, but Average Joe is also just starting the same thing and will be taking videos of the progress, so might be worth keeping tabs. Whilst I don't particularly rate his craftsmanship, it may show some tips.

Look forward to seeing how you get on!
I hadn't looked at Maloof before, now you and Google have cost 1/2 hr of my employers time.

Good luck, it'll be worth your efforts and any mistakes along the way.

Looking forward to a WIP!
Adam, yes (see left). I bought Hal Taylor's plans and instructions. Have a look at his website any questions feel free to ask.
I've made a couple of Maloof low backed chairs. Not yet tackled a rocker.

Presume you have seen the three US guys selling plans/videos. I used Charles Brock's for the low back chair and it was extremely helpful. Also Canadian woodworks on youtube has some great videos.

If you have any specific questions you think I can answer then I'm happy to help.
Is it just me or does the only chair design anyone ever make on YouTube the Maloof carved Rocker? Other chairs are available people!

Sent from my MI 3W using Tapatalk
Thanks for the offers of advice, I will certainly be jn need of your experience i'm sure. Its the difficult thing at the moment of not knowing what I don't know, if you see what I mean.
I have watched all the canadian woodworks videos and they are actually the people I will be purchasing the templates and how to guide from. They are in the process of finishing some updates to the plans so I am waiting on them to be ready.
From watching the videos and reading up on it, so far I am fairly comfortable with a chunk of the basic work involved. Im confident I can machine up the timber and cut the joinery accurately (I think!!).
The bit that is the biggest unknown for me is the power carving aspect of it, so this is the area I will no doubt need most help with.

I am planning to buy this angle grinder for doing the carving aspects (I have a cordless angle grinder but doubt the batteries will last long enough):
http://www.screwfix.com/p/bosch-blue-pr ... GwodTzsNLg
Based on your experience, will this angle grinder be suitable or can you recommend a more suitable angle grinder (i.e. more or less powerful, lighter, heavier etc).

I plan to use the angle grinder with the Saburrtooth Flat Faced Shaping Wheel - 4" Sanding Disc with Holes Ref: SD4H - Medium Grit (from classic hand tools). I thought the medium grit would be a good compromise between speed of stock removal and finish. It will mean I will have to do more sanding though I expect.
I would be interested to know what tools you guys used to do the power carving and if you have any comments regarding what I plan to use?

Talking of sanding, what did you guys use to sand your chairs? I currently don't have a decent sander (just cheapo ROS sanders) and I saw that they often use big festool sanders on their chairs. I can't afford to buy a festool sander just now so I'm hoping you can advise me on some more economical options for doing the sanding. I appreciate I could do it by hand for very little cost but it would take an eternity and I want it done quicker than that.

Thats probably enough questions for one post, thanks in advance for any help you can give me.
Hi Adam,

My pleasure. I have also bought the rocker plans from Paul but haven't had the chance to start my own rocker. I would say that just doing it with the plans and not some form of guide would have been pretty hard in my opinion and I'm not sure I would have made it through, or at least would have wanted to do a trial one out of something less expensive than black walnut.

Hal Taylor has a book on Amazon's kindle store that you can buy for not much or you can buy Brock's video/book and plans from Highland Woodworking in the US. Currently on sale. That is definitely the route I would go and the cost is a rounding error compared to messing up with some decent timber.

WRT the angle grinder I bought a very inexpensive one from screw fix, may have been the model you are looking at, and it was fine. The cutting of wood with it is not difficult for the grinder at all so I wouldn't waste any money there. I also used the Saburrtooth wheel and it is great. Also worth getting some 24 grit sanding discs for the angle grinder and a cheap plastic backing pad for some shaping too.

I used an old Festool ROS 150 sander which was definitely needed. You will need some form of decent power sander as there is a hell of a lot of sanding to do, as I'm sure you've seen on Paul's videos.

I think you'd benefit from having some rasps too. I initially bought some inexpensive ones but have since bought a couple of nicer hand cut ones that I wish I had had when I made the chairs.

The other thing that would have been a huge help would have been one of those small hand held power carving machines, a bit like a dentist uses, with a small Saburrtooth cutter on it. I think Foredom make them. I'll try and pick one of those up before I make another chair.

As far as the shaping goes I found it interesting. I found it much easier to get the chair well past the point that I would have been happy with before starting the project, but the problem is as you proceed the standard you set for yourself shifts quite a bit and I was well short of perfection, particularly in the shape of the arms. The seat and the legs were much easier for me for some reason.

Hope this helps.
Thanks Noddy, that is exactly the sort of advice I was after. I particularly agree with your sentiment about buying the how to videos or books, because as you say the investment of money and time is substantial, the cost of a book or video pales into insignificance when compared.

Yeah I was thinking of actually building two chairs kind or simultaneously but actually sequentially in terms of each process. My thought was that I would use a cheaper hardwood like ash or beech for chair 1 and then the expensive maple and walnut for chair 2. My idea being that I would carry out each production stage on the cheaper material first, make my mistakes and learn from them, then hopefully get it right when doing that stage in the more expensive material.
I could build one chair in the cheaper material from start to finish and then build the second chair using the more expensive material but it would take a lot longer than using batch production methodology I think.

thanks for the advice about the angle grinder, i'm glad I was on the right track. I will order that now.
I was looking on classic hand tools site and they sell sanding discs for the angle grinder so I think i'll get one of each grit to see how I get on with them. They're inexpensive so I don't mind just trying them out. I'm sure I'll use them up eventually.
Glad the saburrtooth wheel is recommend, its very similar to the ones they used in the videos, so I hoped I was onto the right thing.

When you say a cheap plastic backing pad, what do you mean, do you have a link for one?

I suspected you would confirm that I'd need a decent sander, I might have to put this on the early christmas list then lol

Yeah I tried the Auriou rasps at a show last year and the difference is huge, I have this on my wanted list but again at around £100 each they're going to be an expensive addition. I was hoping to get away without buying them yet but I guess I may get to a point where I can't get by without one.

I've been looking into electric die grinders so yep this is on the must have list as I agree, it would be very useful for the transitions in tight spots.

Its interesting reading your comments about the shaping, as you can tell, its the bit I am most apprehensive about. I was thinking of making a simple 4 legged stool and getting some experience by trying to power carve that. I think it will help me get a better feel for the tool and gain some valuable experience
Hi Adam,

I see Brock's set is currently $89 at Highland. Definitely worth it in my mind.

Here is the line to Hal Taylor's book:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Make-Beaut ... or+rocking

From memory he recommends against making a chair in cheaper wood, although from memory I can't remember why. I think that with the plans / videos etc you will definitely be able to make one that you'll be happy with. I would be surprised if you think it will be perfect but certainly almost everyone you show it to will think it is. I think I remember Paul saying he made 20 chairs before he considered selling one. That said I sold my second, admittedly to a family member, but she loved it nevertheless. I think you're idea of building two, in staggered tandem, has merit though. Maybe decide after you watch the video and see what is involved. Certainly doing test cuts on the joints etc is well worth it.

The pad I was talking about was just this:

http://www.screwfix.com/p/nylon-backing ... 22mm/41534

Cheap as chips and you buy a 10 pack of 24 and 60 grit discs and use those. Not sure what sanding discs you mean from Classic Hand Tools though.

I used Arrant pads on my Festool sander which work well for dust collection. (Dust is a nightmare when shaping so either doing it outside or some form of mask & vacuum is a must.

The Auriou's are lovely but they are expensive. If you don't want to drop that kind of cash at this stage you could look at :




for cheaper options. Not tried them personally.

WRT carving I tried an extension to a drill and also a cheap angle grinder off eBay and they both worked but they were pretty pants to be honest so I'll try to pick up a second hand Foredom at some point.
Hi Noddy,

The price is certainly very reasonable for Brocks set. The main reason I want to go for canadian woodworks plans is I prefer the style of the chair as it does differ slightly.

I don't have a kindle but I will see if I can buy hal taylors book in good old fashioned print. Thanks for the link.

I would imagine he doesn't recommend making it in cheaper wood as the cheaper woods are not as good for carving from what I have read, I strangely saw this as a plus because if you practise on wood that is more difficult then logically it should make it easier when you are working with good woods. thats the theory anyway.

Its also interesting about your point regarding perfection, I fully expect my chairs to be imperfect in my eyes because I am an obsessive perfectionist and I have never made anything I consider perfect. I can always point out errors or parts i'm not happy with. The beauty of this though is that I strive for perfection and therefore even if I get near enough, its much better than most people would ever expect to receive. I have a friend who is very keen on a rocking chair so potentially they will pay for one of the chairs and I will pay for the other, i'm not too worried about that side of it right now though.

Thanks for the link to the backing pad, I had been looking for something like that but not known what it was called. I have ordered it with the sanding discs and the angle grinder so I should have it tomorrow.

I think i'll give the festool rep a ring and ask him to come show me their various sanders, that should help me decide which I would need. I'm keen to extract as much of the dust away as possible so may build a downdraft table for the chair to sit on while I carve it. I will be wearing mask etc so I'll be protected anyway.

Those cheaper rasps look pretty good but I think i'll just have to get one Auriou when I can afford one, I can add to the collection as I need or can afford them.

Yeah I've been looking into the foredom machines, i know everyone raves about how good they are but I don't think I can stretch to one. Considering how simple a thing it is, I'm considering making one myself using a motor with extension.

Thanks for all your help so far, it really is invaluable being able to bounce ideas around
Agree about the style of Paul's rocker over Charles Brock's one, although it is more the technique and detail that Brock goes into that I found invaluable. That said I'm sure you'll be fine without it.

One thing I forgot to mention is when you get the plans it is well worth popping down to a copy shop and make a copy of them before you start to cut the templates just in case you slip you will still have a back up copy. Might also be worth thinking about whether you want to get a local cnc shop to knock out the templates on some ply for you rather then spend all the time cutting and sanding the templates too. Not a lot of work but it might not cost you much (they buy the ply much cheaper than you probably can) and the process takes them no time at all once they put the plans into their cad program.

Looking forward to seeing how the build goes. Please post pics and best of luck.

Thanks Noddy, yeah i'm all for more information. so often I combine info from different sources to help.

Yes that was my thought regarding the templates, Paul has kindly agreed to sell me the electronic PDF copies so I can get them printed myself (saves on the postage). I run a design, manufacturing and printing company so this should be inexpensive for me to run myself off a few sets.
Its a good suggestion about getting the templates CNC cut, I will get a quote from the local CNC guys once I have received the files. As you say, they would be much easier to use and of course, re-use.

Yes I will certainly be doing a WIP but obviously I've got to wait for the stuff to arrive from canadian woodworks. Although I suppose I could start the WIP off with my experiments and test pieces. Could be amusing for others
Just come across this thread and thought my own experiences might be of interest. I have made two organically inspired pieces.

The first was this table


The legs are steam bent ash but there is still a lot of shaping.

The second is this chair - of which I'm currently making three more, all a little different - to go with the table


Both the table and chairs are completely my own design, but the latter are much more complex. The chair legs and other parts are steam bent two or three part laminations in green ash (much better for bending). The major i.e. front to back curves are steam bent but the side to side curves are formed by having wide components (75mm in the case of the back legs) which are then shaped and carved in all planes.

The difference between what I have done and what you are contemplating is in the shaping techniques used. When I started I too had in mind the sort of techniques you are considering - angle grinders, power carvers etc., but I took a very different route for a number of reasons, the main one being that I wanted to enjoy the process, followed quite closely by the fact that I was all too aware that while modern power carving tools can be used with a lot of delicacy and it would be all too easy to have a major disaster at a point where I already had a big time investment in a piece. I too am a pretty obsessive perfectionist but I also enjoy using hand tools which have the advantage of producing only quiet satisfying noises and minimal dust.

My arsenal includes draw knives - capable of removing a lot of material in a short time, but also offering considerable delicacy. I have a large Ashley Iles version which I have used very little and th small (4” blade length) Veritas carvers draw knife which is a really great little tool which I havew used a lot. Flat and radius soled spoke shaves – I have the aptly named Woodjoy ones from Classic Hand Tools – pricey but worth every penny. Rasps - the hand stitched European ones from Workshop Heaven, a lot cheaper than Auriou but work well, and round Microplanes – much used and excellent. Also a 14" farriers rasp which is great for removing a lot of material quickly. Apart from the absence of noise and all-pervading dust, the big plus of working with hand tools is what it teaches about power and delicacy but also dealing with changing grain direction as it changes in the round and last but not least the pleasure of the process.

However, there is no getting away from the fact that there is an awful lot of sanding involved, particularly in smoothing and refining curves. My experience has been that in shaping and refining organic curves, conventional sanding machines are of little or no use. For shaping I have used a range of different sized drum sanders equipped with 80 grit paper. Some of the basic work can be done with them in a pillar drill. I do this in conjunction with this extractor box which when connected to a shop vac extracts pretty much all the dust. It has reducing insert rings for different size drums – my smallest is about half an inch diameter.


But these drums are at their most versatile used in a small battery drill. And a lot of the work was done in this. But these sanders create a lot of dust and protection is vital. I have a three pronged approach to this. First I have a Microclene filter https://www.classichandtools.com/acatalog/Microclene-Dust-Filters.html
While not quiet these create a powerful draft which with the filter placed a foot or two away on the bench the other side of the work draws a lot of the dust away and captures it. My second and third lines of defence are a powered respirator and a Sundstrom replaceable filter facemask which I swap between depending how I feel! The respirator is more comfortable but a bit weighty on the head and the shield does remove you from the work a bit. The Sundstrom is comfortable and has very sensitive valves so breathing feels very natural and it is not expensive. Lastly, I would urge you to vacuum youself down with the mask or respirator still in place before finishing work – it also helps in relations with ones dearly beloved!

I hope that these comments are, if not helpful, at least food for thought.

Thanks for your input Jim, it's much appreciated.
I don't want to debate the merits of hand tools versus power tools as it'll go off topic and muddy the waters.
I expect there will be lots I do with power tools and some will require hand tools, much like most projects I find.
I have a comprehensive dust extraction setup including suitable Ppe so shouldn't be any issues on that front.
I was reading in a magazine about similar pillar drill based DIY drum sanders and will probably build one.