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Thread: Maloof/Morrison walnut bedroom bench

  1. #1
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    Maloof/Morrison walnut bedroom bench

    This project is still in progress at the moment, but I thought I would share my first attempt at this sort of build. Some things went pretty well, others did not (so please be kind

    I started off by seeing a bench that I liked in the Fine Woodworking gallery. I learned that this was considered to be in the spirit of Sam Maloof designs.

    Next, I searched here om SMC and found that Prashun had built some furniture in this style, and having admired his posts over the years I reached out. He pointed me in the direction of Scott Morrison, and after emailing with Scott, I purchased DVD's for his tea chair and figured I would adapt as needed along the way to achieve what I was after.

    My first departures from Scott's plans were that I could not readily find 8/4 walnut nearby (and thus worked with 6/4... which makes my creation a bit daintier overall) and I wanted an evenly scooped seat (instead of a more pronounced carved seat with 'yoke' area). As such, I was able to glue up my seat plank with the boards running the long way (instead of opposite as Scott teaches in the videos), which simultaneously made the glue up easier and the joint cutting more difficult (because I was handling long boards during that process). Here's what we looked like at that point:

    walnut bench seat plank.jpg

    Next, I decided that I might have a steep learning curve using an angle grinder to carve the seat, so I decided to use a router sled to get various zones to my preferred depths as a first step:
    walnut bench prepping for carving.jpg walnut bench routing before carving.jpg

    Then, I used an angle grinder and Kutzall carving disc, followed by 24 grit sanding disc, to contour between the zones and create the subtle shape of the seat:
    walnut bench seat carving complete.jpg

    After this, I forgot to take pictures for awhile unfortunately. Things progressed pretty quickly. I selected a simpler back rest approach, and also changed the arm shape as I went. I found the process of resawing, and regluing the arm blanks to create a curve to be very interesting. By the time I remembered to take another picture, I had the bench basically together, and had done preliminary rough carving using the angle grinder:

    walnut bench rough carved.jpg

    I was very nervous to use the angle grinder much more than what you see above, so I then purchased a Foredom rotary tool and some burrs. I had never used this sort of tool either, so this was a bit stressful at first, but I got the hang of it. Lots of time spent refining the shapes with the rotary tool, and then with hand rasps, has left me at this stage where it's time to sand the piece.

    walnut bench read for sanding 1.jpg walnut bench read for sanding 2.jpg

    I will use a combination of ROS, muscle power, sanding burrs for the rotary tool etc. to get this thing ready for finishing. I have one minor spot that needs some filler too (I ran out of wood and had to use a known-to-be-flawed piece).

    Overall, I feel like I didn't botch this one up too badly, although there are so many steps that could have gone better. I also somewhat worry that the bench is too "thin" overall due to the use of 6/4 lumber - time will tell if it is strong enough (and it will be in our bedroom as a place to put on shoes before work... so only my wife and I will ever use it).

    Any input as I look to take this to the finish line?

    Thanks!!

    Bob R.
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  2. #2
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    Bob, you're doing a really wonderful job on that project! Whatever tool(s) you use for taking off stock and shaping, a light touch and repetition is the way to go. You can always remove more, but, well...you can't really put any back! I'm betting with something like this one has to bounce back and forth between sides to help maintain symmetry, too, but I've not done anything like that to-date.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #3
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    Looks great to me-nice lines and some great wood. I'd only recommend that you don't point out any of the flaws (that likely only you can see) to others

    What are you planning for a finish?

    Best,
    Chris
    "You can observe a lot just by watching."
    --Yogi Berra

  4. #4
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    That looks great! I went to investigate further but the link to Scott Morrison is a dead end for me. Do you have another? A quick google search didn’t help me much either.
    Thanks,
    David

  5. #5
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    Thanks guys! I'm really trying my best (as I always do) but with so many new techniques this has been a bit stressful the entire time.

    Jim - regarding the symmetry remark... All the components are the same prior to carving, but then you're right... it's a game of shave a bit, stand back and look, shave a bit more, and so on. Scott M. makes it look so easy, but it ain't.

    Christopher - I long ago learned to stop pointing out flaws to others that would never notice them. And that's great advice :-) For finishing, I'm going to use the steps outlined by Scott. M which I can't recall perfectly from memory right now... I'll update on this soon.

    David - the link ought to work, but if you google Scott Morrison Fine Woodworker you will get there too. In addition to his great videos (which I have watched and re-watched) he was responsive to my few questions via email as well.

    -------

    Today I got through the first round of 60 grit sanding on one side of the bench. Lots of work with ROS, blocks and sponges, my hands... but I was able to remove tooling marks, and am excited to see how it progresses as I move through the other grits next.

    walnut bench 60 grit 1.jpg walnut bench 60 grit 2.jpg walnut bench 60 grit 3.jpg walnut bench 60 grit tools.jpg
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  6. #6
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    Thanks Bob! It really is a nice looking bench. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished project and am envious of your obvious skills!
    David

  7. #7
    Bob, that looks like a challenging piece. From what I can see it is turning out real nice.

    BTW, I'm from Delco, been telling people forever that I am not from Philly!

  8. #8
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    Such a beautiful piece of work. Love the gentle curves.
    Best Regards,

    Gordon

  9. #9
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    The curved arms are spectacular. Way to go!
    Rustic? Well, no. That was not my intention!

  10. #10
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    Looks Fantastic

    Your results are looking fantastic. Good for you for trying out a slightly more petite style, and putting your own touch on the design. I am lucky to have sawmills near by. I have to believe there are some good hardware sources near you. Maybe others in the area can provide references.

  11. #11
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    Thanks again guys! Very humbling, and greatly motivating, to receive these votes of confidence from the SMC crew.


    Ron - If you're still Delco (or visit from time to time) we should try to meet up sometime!


    Gordon and Dave - The curves are my favorite part too. For the arms, it started off with an 8" x 20" rectangular board that was about 1.25" thick. A gentle curve was re-sawn, and the cutoff was then glued back onto the other side of the plank. Next, several rounds of "sneak up on it" cutting occurred in order to achieve a compound angle where the arm meets the rear, upper leg connection. Then, shape cutting at the band saw and round over with 1/2" router bit to reduce the amount of carving later. The connection to the front leg is done with a hardwood dowel, so I made a center finder (and have since bought a pack of them) to ensure the dowel would hit the arm in the right spot. Once the glue dried, angle grinder with 24 grit was used to do most of the shaping, followed by rotary tool with burrs, rasps, sandpaper.


    Joe - I rarely follow plans exactly for two reasons... One, I like what I like. Two, I usually screw something up along the way which requires me to change the project to suit my mistakes. ha ha (but serious). I do have a sawmill nearby, but his stock is unpredictable and pricing seems high. There are further-away (but still doable) options that I hear are very good, but my skill level has not warranted the time and $$ investment. Perhaps I'm far enough along the learning curve to make the trip for my next project (entry storage bench with coat/hat hanging options above).
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  12. #12
    Cool project, cool post ...it really looks very nice!

  13. #13
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    Rob, I tend to look at it a little differently. You clearly are producing results that are made to last, and while maybe not all of your results are premiere, master craftsman quality, you likely will be keeping these pieces for decades. For me, the big investment is time, so spending a few more dollars on lumber or even taking a couple of hours to source lumber are relatively small incremental costs of the project, especially compared to the amount of time I spend planning and working the wood. This is not to say I'm indifferent to lumber prices, but I've never regretted building a piece out of more expensive lumber. I am slow and generally only have to satisfy myself and the family members who will most benefit from my work, so again time becomes the biggest investment in nearly everything I make which frees me up to an extent to not worry as much about lumber costs.
    Last edited by Joe A Faulkner; 01-11-2022 at 1:00 PM.

  14. #14
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    All very good points, and I think "I'm there" now... in the past, there was quite a bit of uncertainty as to whether my projects would end up in a campfire, or in our living room. The past year's worth of projects have all been completed without major issues, so going from nice lumber to really nice lumber probably makes more sense now than it did in the past. :-)
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  15. #15
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    Question for the team here if you have a minute to provide opinions...

    I'm nearly finished with the bench now. Here's my finish approach:

    - I wet sanded danish oil with 320 grit wet/dry
    - wait overnight
    - Rubbed out the finish with t-shirt, applied another coat of danish oil
    - wait overnight
    - Applied wipe-on satin poly urethane with a t-shirt
    - wait overnight
    - lightly (very lightly) sanded with 320 grit, applied another coat of poly with t-shirt (this was today)
    - wait overnight (this would be tonight)
    - Rub out the finish with a t-shirt (this would be tomorrow)
    - Done

    My thought is that the danish oil seals and protects somewhat, and the poly coats provide further protection.... So this is about 4 coats. At this point, my surfaces are very smooth to touch and the wife and I love the look of the bench/finish.

    So, my question is... do you think I should do any additional finish coats or steps, or is the outline above sufficient? (reminder that this is a decorative bench in our bedroom that will see about 4 minutes per day of "action" when I put my shoes on each morning, and remove them each evening).

    Thanks!!

    Bob R.
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

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