Stock Purchase

For me, the scariest part of building a chair, or stool in this case, was choosing the leg stock. Watching you tube, TV, or the internet told me that I was going to have to rive some wood to make sure that I didn’t have weak legs. That’s a challenging prospect for an urban woodworker.  Logs are hard to come by and sourcing appropriate wood to rive is difficult, to say the least.  Where I live there are a couple of hardwood stores in town, but they tend not to stock a lot of material, preferring to order as the customer needs it. Which leaves me combing the small lumber racks at woodcraft most of the time.  Kinda sad.  Even though, I’ve had pretty good success with this approach and was able to score enough stock for a couple of 3-legged stools.

I thought I’d just show a few pictures of what I looked for in the leg stock.   I was following some suggestions made by Brendan Gaffney of burnHeart Made about how he approached choosing stock for his tools.  After I started this post, he posted a fantastic informational video on what he looks for.

I pretty much followed his advice, looking for nearly perfectly flatsawn growth rings on the end as shown below.

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As flatsawn as I could find.  Yes, tassel loafers are admissible shop wear.

Then I went to the side of the board and tried to make sure that the grain didn’t run out. This is about as good as I could get in the 8/4 stock that was available. There is a little run out at the end, but if you put that toward the floor then you should be safe (I know that might seem counter intuitive, but the highest stresses are at the top of the leg).

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So while I couldn’t get riven stock for this build, I was able to get some leg stock that I feel comfortable sitting on. The hardest part was getting a good look at how the grain ran along the length of the board. The rough-sawn texture makes the grain hard to see and so you have to spend a bit of time angling it around in the light before it reveals itself.  The other option I had thought of involved finding 12/4 stock and just trying to rive the oak dry.  I am pretty certain that would be at least moderately successful.

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Laying out the seat

Apparently the stool is on everyone’s list at the moment.  I like it because it is a sorta halfway point between a chair and, well, nothing.  Sitting on the ground?  Maybe.  Plus there are only three legs, so I only have to worry about one drilling angle once I laid out the mortise locations. To locate the leg positions, I played with the wireform model I put up a couple of posts earlier and decided on a 4 inch diameter leg circle on a 12 inch seat.   The next thing to do was to lay out an equilateral triangle on the seat bottom so I could get the legs equidistant from one another.  Just a little bit of simple geometry  construction was all it took.
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I have some pictures of me constructing that triangle that I will post a little later.  Good old high-school geometry reminders from the teacher in me. After laying this out, I drilled the 5/8 in holes with a wood owl bit and an 8 inch brace with a holdall chuck.   On instagram I joked that the leg layout lines looked like the cover of a metal album, it definitely has that archaic magic symbol look to it. For this stool seat, I beveled the underside with a jack plane and then cleaned up the bevel with a new, to me, stanley M151.  I fell in love with the spokeshave almost immediately.  Get the thing sharp and it is a blast to use.  It’s definitely an ongoing lesson in reading grain though.  The spokeshave is like the chisel in that regard.

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After I beveled the underside, I reamed the 5/8 holes with the large veritas reamer, checking my leg angle as I went.  You don’t have to have a fancy sliding bevel like the Blue Spruce Toolworks one below, but man, it makes it nicer.  Everything I have ever picked up from David’s company has been ultra nice and super functional.  You can see my 16 oz Blue Spruce mallet in the background of this photo, which is acrylic infused and indestructible.  After this step, I started in on shaping the legs.
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