Examining Stool Samples


Lately, I have been making stools. As I mentioned in a previous post, staked furniture is something I had not done. So I tried it, and as is often the case one thing leads to another and now I have done four of these. With the last three being variations on a theme. So I thought I would take the time to analyze what about these variations works and does not work from a design perspective.


Staked Shop Stool

My first High Stool

I have already written a short article on this stool but here I want to look at the design details and do a bit of analysis.
First, if you compare this stool to the others in this group you will see that the legs are noticeably thicker. What is surprising is how much this is noticeable when you consider that the legs on this stool are at most 3/8″ thicker than the thinnest legs.
This is a 28″ high stool with a “D” shaped seat. The “D” shaped seat is the same on all three stools. The differences all lie in the legs and bracing. But when you compare them side by side they are very different looking and feeling though in their specs they vary only a little.
For example, the difference between the angle on these legs which look almost vertical and those on the stool below is only 2 degrees.
While I don’t dislike the appearance of this stool, it is the least stable of the three due to the fact that the feet are only slightly proud of plumb from the corners of the seat.
stool 3

A wider Stance

This stool is my most recent attempt at the perfect 3 legged stool. (As if there could be such a thing) But I have to say that it is better in almost every respect than the stool above.
It is lighter, more stable, and I think more attractive due to thinner legs and braces. And although only time and abuse can tell for sure. It seems to be every bit as strong in use. Although I would not want to jump up and down on the front cross brace. It is just over an inch thick with 5/8″ tenons and it is made of pine. But in normal use, the stool is very rigid and feels very solid.
The finish is paste wax over Boiled Linseed Oil. It is a nice finish for a chair. The wax gives it a nice sheen and nice combination of smooth but not overly slippery.
From the standpoint of aesthetics, this is my favorite version so far. When you see it in person it is very light and elegant looking. You are almost afraid to sit on it. But it is actually quite strong.
4legged Stool

The winner for stability

I also used the same seat shape with 4 legs just to see the difference. The leg profile is very similar to the other two and the height is only 24 inches instead of the 28 inch high I used on the other stools.
While this design is not going to give anyone chills. This stool is really strong and stable and very comfortable.
The big difference with this design is that assembly is much more challenging. Basically, you have to tease all the pieces together with glue pretty much at the same time. I needed some extra hands on this one. But the finished product was pleasing. The picture shows this stool before the finish was complete, but after a few more coats of oil and a bit of wax, it is a good looking stool.

A summary of what I learned

There are a few things about design that I learned in this process.

  1. I like the thinner legs, but this means more bracing.
  2. Three-legged stools need a lot of rake to be stable. On a long-legged stool, this means either a really thick top and thick legs, or you need to brace them with rungs.
  3. Pine actually works for this kind of project, I was not sure that it would. You can not get away with the kind of design extremes with pine that you can with a harder, stronger wood, but it works. And the end result can be quite light and elegant.

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