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Is the Weeks Rocker a Copy of the Maloof Rocker?

Sam Maloof was the designer and maker of a famous rocking chair and other furniture.  His work and the trail he blazed were singular.  I can't imagine another woodworker achieving such status.  His reputation for craftsmanship and generosity is impeccable and well deserved.  He inspired woodworkers to higher levels of artistry and educated a large portion of the public to why it was important.  His brilliance cast a bright light.  We are grateful for the illumination.

The Maloof Rocker has become an icon, widely copied, often poorly and stiffly, with versions for sale on many websites and at a large percentage of craft fairs.  This is a hard shadow to get out from under and the reason we get asked the question above.

The answer is no.  The Weeks Rocker is as original as the design of anything with generations of iterations can be.

I don't like Maloof Rockers much.  Granted they have vigor and coherence, but they look like something Darth Vador or, on the light side, Batman would sit in.  For comfort, the crest rails are too flat, the arms are too low, and the seat is scooped deeply all the way to the front, failing to hold you back against the lumbar support.  For construction, there are too many butt joints held by screws.

To design the Weeks Rocker, I started with a "fitting booth" to take the measure of as many people as I could, and I used my particular experience and common sense to get from there to chair.  For a further discussion and illustration of our chair design process, please see Designing the Weeks Rocking Chair and Designing the Heflin Bar Stool.

Comparing the two rocking chairs, looking beyond the obvious and inherent resemblances, there are very different solutions to the problems presented by the requirements of comfort, construction, and decoration.

Maloof rocking chair Weeks rocking chair
Maloof Rocker Weeks Rocker

Consider the arms:

Maloof Rocker Arms: Weeks Rocker Arms:
are the same distance from the seat, front and back or, in some versions, lower at the front. are higher at the front than at the back.
have a flat to concave top surface. have a convex top surface, except for the concave forearm relief.
have narrow, hard edges. have wide, soft edges.
are fastened to back legs with a screw. are mortised into the back legs.
are faired* to the back legs. are faired* to the back legs.
are doweled to the front legs. have the front legs mortised through them and wedged.
have the front legs faired* into them. rest on the shoulder of the front leg tenon.
have a top curve (when viewed from the side) of a gentle arc, or radius. have a top curve (when viewed from the side) more like a section of a sine wave.

[ * "Faired" means: worked so that one part appears to flow out of the other. ]

I could compare and chart every part of the Weeks Rocker and the Maloof Rocker to the same result.  The differences exceed the shared elements, and the differences are fundamental, not superficial.  The differences result from different design criteria, different solutions to the inherent problems, and different aesthetics.

The character, not the furniture, of Sam Maloof I do aspire to copy, but this is more difficult.


Related Pages on this Website
See the titles in the side bar to the left at top of this page
How We Build Rocking Chairs   Our Hand-rubbed Oil Finish

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