A good friend commissioned me to make a stool. He wanted it to fit in a small space under a desk and he wanted it made from oak. I happened to have some green oak logs for the legs and stretchers but nothing suitable for the seat. So I asked Richard Charles, our Chiltern APT organiser if he had any bits left over from when he made his beautiful green oak framed workshop.
Richard happens to be a font of knowledge and experience when it comes to making chairs and seats. He not only offered to donate a perfect piece of well seasoned oak for the stool seat, but also kindly offered to work on the project with me. As I’d never made a stool before I jumped at the opportunity. We met at his lovely workshop, heated by a woodburning stove.
My first task was to split the green oak log with wedges in to four quarters. Next I used an axe to rough shape the legs and stretchers then moved on to the shave horse and draw knife to get almost to the finished shape and size. The parts were then left near the woodburner for a few weeks to dry fully before being further refined. I discussed with Andy the choice of turned or drawknife finished legs. I prefer the look of the tooled finish from the knife and the rough-hewn appearance of legs that are not turned. Andy Agreed so that’s the way we went.
There was a fair bit of calculation of angles involved. We used one of Richards award winning stools as a template to get the splay of the legs which we then used on the oak stool.
In the picture below Richard is starting to rough out the shape of the seat with a carving gouge and wooden mallet.
Pretty soon we had the componet parts roughed out.
It was interesting to me to learn how Richard measures the length required for the stretchers. He takes two bits of wood, fits them in to the drilled holes on the legs then forces them apart, until the legs are put under sufficient tension. At this point a pencil line is drawn across the middle of the two bits of wood where they overlap. When the two pieces are laid on the table and positioned with the pencil line in place a measurment can be taken for the stretcher. Simple but very clever. I never would have thought of that myself!
Then the components were refined to fit perfectly together and it was just a case of assembly.
Here you can see the oak stool, just oiled in front, with the stool behind that we used as a guide, and the lovely beams in Richard’s workshop which he made himself and which is made from the same oak as the seat of the stool.
Glistening oak seat after first oiling…
I learned a great deal and had a lot of fun making this with Richard. I’m deeply grateful to him for sharing his experience with me and his kind offer to guide me through the process. I’m also graterful to my good friend Andy who suggested the idea and had faith enough in me to commission the stool, knowing full well that I’d never made one before. I take off my hat and my head to both of you.
The finished stool in the winter sunlight.