WoodCentral's Book Reviews
Sam Maloof  - Woodworker

Sam Maloof -- Woodworker
by Sam Maloof

Kodansha International: 1983
Paperback, 223 pp., $50
ISBN 0-87001-910-9

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     As an example of a woodworking craftsman building a career, there are few better to look to than Sam Maloof. Jonathan Fairbanks, curator at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, states in his introduction, "Perhaps the general public misunderstands craftsmanship because contemporary society is largely comprised of spectators rather than shapers of the environment….One can only observe that Sam's working process reshapes the craftsman and his perceptions with each piece he makes."
     Sam Maloof is famous for sculpted joinery, for notched, half-lap construction and for freehand cutting of his chair parts on the bandsaw, a process he doesn't recommend to anyone without experience. This beautiful oversize volume presents Sam Maloof's life and philosophy as well as his woodworking techniques, generously shared. His hallmark 'Maloof rocker' is an innovative design that capitalizes on both ergonomics and superior balance. The ambitious reader could build one from the step-by-step photo descriptions in this book.
     The book is also a gallery of Maloof furniture, both in black-and-white and full-color photography. A tour of his home shows off his talent for designing to fill a space, and how he has finished off every hand-hewn door and gateway with a different sculpted latch system.
     The man's life is a phenomenal success story, though he's the first to point out (this was in 1983), "Remember, I have been working hard every day for thirty-five years." Once, when having lunch with a cousin from his father's mountain village in Lebanon, Sam Maloof heard the startling opinion his relatives held of him. Unable to translate his work as a designer/maker of fine furniture, the cousin had told them Maloof was a carpenter. "Ah," they exclaimed, "how sad that our uncle's son has not been successful in the United States and must work with his hands." According to Maloof, that is one of the great blessings of his life. This book is an inspiration.

. . . Barb Siddiqui