Sam Maloof’s Sculpted-base Table
If you’re concerned about copying another person’s design, keep in mind what Maloof said in his book “Sam Maloof, Woodworker” when asked about those who copy his furniture: “This reminds me of an anecdote about Hamada, the Japanese potter. When someone asked Hamada if imitations of his work bothered him, he replied, ‘When I’m dead, people will think that all of my bad things were made by the other potter, and they will think that all of his good things were made by me.’ ”
1. Starting at the Post. The first step is roughing out and shaping the base’s center post. The post measures 3″ x 3″ x 23″, and unless you’re very lucky you’ll have to glue up a couple boards to achieve this dimension. Using 1 3/4″ thick material, I was able to glue up two 3″-wide pieces with room to spare.
If you’ve ever tried to glue two flat pieces together you know that glue works like butter, and the wood wants to slip apart. Drill two dowel holes on the matching faces and use dowels as guide pins during gluing so you won’t fight with your pieces.
Next run the post down to 3″ x 3″. You should leave the post longer than the finished 23″ for now to allow for fitting. The first milling procedure is to use a dado stack to cut grooves the length of the post on all four faces.
2. Forming the Inside Curve. With the post grooved to accept the leg tenons, make cove cuts on the four corners so that the shape flows into the legs. I accomplished this with a 3/4″ cove bit. This bit is a $50 necessity. There is no other tooling that provides the control given by a router and bit set up in a router table.
As shown in the photo, the location of the cove cut is critical to how easy it will be to assemble the base and how good it will look. Use two passes of increasing depth to put less stress on your router.