Sam Maloof: 36 Views of a Master Woodworker

A captivating read that has as much to say about the creative process as it does about the master woodworker himself.

Sam Maloof: 36 Views of a Master Woodworker

Sam Maloof: 36 Views of a Master Woodworker

If you've been working wood for even the slightest length of time, you'll have heard of Sam Maloof. Woodworkers know him as one of North America's most renowned contemporary furniture makers. He's probably best known for his chairs, in particular his rocking chairs, along with what has become widely know as the 'Maloof joint'. The chairs are emblematic of the kind of furniture Maloof created during his lifetime –  a simplicity and practicality of design coupled with exquisite craftsmanship. You can't help but look at one of these chairs and not be emotionally (and technically) impressed.

Like so many woodworkers today, Maloof was a self-taught craftsman who worked out of a home workshop. You may have heard the story of how he would cut out furniture parts freehand on a bandsaw – much to the chagrin, I imagine, of the more formally trained in the woodworking community. And, like many of us, he initially struggled to make a go of it. Apparently, he didn't make much of a profit from his woodworking during the first 20 years (we can assume that his wife might have contributed to the family income over these years). Still, by the early 1980's he was 'the man' – an autobiography "Sam Maloof: Woodworker" to his credit, a multimillion-dollar offer to mass-produce his original designs (which he turned down), a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and a MacArthur Foundation 'genius' grant (the first ever awarded to a crafts person). 

A Sam Maloof Rocker

Master furniture maker, innovative woodworker, legendary designer.... easy enough accolades to apply to any of a number of outstanding furniture makers – Krenov, Nakashima, Osgood, Frid, Castle – to name a few. So, what makes Sam so special.

This is, ostensibly, the purpose of "Sam Maloof: 36 Views of a Master Woodworker". It provides an intimate glimpse into the life of this woodworking icon. The book consists of a collection of 36 'reminiscences' from people who knew Maloof better than most – his family, friends, colleagues, and his 'boys' (the lads who worked with Maloof over the duration of his career). Reading their recollections certainly gave me a better sense of who the man was – his character, temperament, and even some of his insecurities and follies. 

A contemplative Sam

So many of us aspire to a creative life – so few of us seem to attain a level where our ideals or our dreams conform to our life's work. Sam did it.

I found this book a very captivating read that has as much to say about the creative process as it does about the woodworker himself. Highly recommended, whether you're a professional or amateur woodworker, or simply revel in the creative life.

AUTHOR:Fred Setterberg
FORMAT:Hardcover, 264 pages

Carl Duguay
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