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Woodwork 

Winter 2013-2014

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Kitchen Stool

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Kitchen Stool

Round Legs Without a Lathe

By Seth Keller

Few stools are as clean and elegant as this one. I built it with splayed legs to provide a stable footing. The multi-level rungs offer a variety of foot perches to satisfy just about anybody, no matter how short or tall they are. I topped it off with a gently scooped seat that’s comfortable enough to permit lingering over a satisfying meal. I used contrasting wood for visual interest. I really like how the light-colored legs peek up through the dark seat. The legs and stretchers are made from strong, durable beech. The seat is made from cherry and reminds me of old, soft leather.

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This project will keep your router humming and uses some very clever jigs to simplify and speed up construction. It’s almost as easy to make half a dozen stools as it is to make one. Our stool is sized for a 36-in. counter height.

There will be a lot of parts floating around your shop as you build this stool and a lot of mortises to keep track of. So take my advice and mark your parts clearly as you go to avoid mix-ups.


Begin building the stool by laying out mortises on the legs. The mortises are offset with one set higher than the other. Clamp the legs together and lay out all the high mortises first. I like to shade each mortise to avoid mistakes.

Click any image to view a larger version.

 

To lay out the lower mortises, rotate the two outside legs 90-degrees away from the center. Then roll the two center legs away from the center as well. This automatically positions the correct face of each leg.

 

Cut the angled mortises with a jig and a plunge router. To position the leg, line up the top of the mortise with the top of the index notch on the jig.

 

Round over all four corners on the legs. When you’re done, they’ll almost look like they were turned. A featherboard maintains consistent pressure against the fence.

 

Round over the ends of each leg. Hold the leg tight against a stop block as you feed it into the bit. When the leg contacts the bearing, rotate it slowly to complete the roundover.

 

Mill roundovers on long lengths of rung stock. Cut the rungs and seat stretchers to length afterward.  This is more efficient and safer than shaping short lengths. Featherboards produce a clean, consistent cut.

 

Shape the seat stretchers on the bandsaw.  It’s best to make two cuts. Cut the short angle first, then make the long straight cut.

 

Cut the round tenons on the seat stretchers. When the cut hits the wide part of the stretcher, let it ride on the bearing until it contacts the fence on the outfeed side.

 

Glue up the base in sections.  Have all of your parts labeled and laid out in sequence. Glue up the two halves with the three mortises first. When they’re dry, glue the whole stool together with the seat stretcher and remaining rungs.

 

Clamp up the base on a flat surface. Angled blocks will prevent the clamps from slipping. Use a straightedge to make sure the wide section on the seat stretchers lies flat.

 

Bore leg holes through the seat blank. Clamp the blank to a sacrificial table to prevent blow out. Cut the curved sides on the bandsaw after drilling the holes.

 

Scoop the seat with a router and a simple jig. Slide your router across the curved ramp. Rotate the seat a router bit’s worth after each pass. Keep the cuts shallow.

 

It’s best to pre-finish the seat and base before final assembly. Then simply attach the seat to the stretchers with screws.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This story originally appeared in 
American Woodworker April/May 2007, issue #128.

 

April/May 2007, issue #128

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