I laid the stool legs out on an equilateral triangle.
Each leg has the same splay and rake (which might not make sense here). There are a couple of ways to lay out this pattern, both start with drawing a circle that defines where you want your stool legs to to enter the seat. You can see that circle above in the picture of my stool seat blank. I determined what looked good by following an article from Mike Dunbar in popular woodworking and by making a model.
The simplest way, in my opinion, to lay out the triangle is to drop a diameter through the circle using your compass prick point as a reference, then you set your compass to the radius of the circle and strike an arc using the intersection of the diameter and the circle edge as the pivot point. Then you connect the dots.
The other way is essentially the same approach, but you define the diameter using a right angle construction with your compass. First you use the center point of your circle to set the compass to the radius. Then you strike to intersecting lines from a random point on the circle edge. Next, set your compass to the distance between those two intersections and draw another arc. Connect the dots.
No matter which approach you use, you then draw diameters into the center of the circle to set you sight lines for the legs.
Since I posted my last blog, I’ve actually completed two stools. The one on the left is my first stool and has a “chunkier” edge and no stretchers. It’s also normal seat height at about 18 inches tall. My second attempt is on the right and is a counter height stool with stretchers. It now lives at my bench and serves as a rear support and impromptu sawhorse on occasion.
A couple of observations before I move on to what I really want to talk about.
Both stools have the same thickness seat, but the second one looks visually thinner.
Stretchers make the stool feel much stiffer. Way more than I expected.
Spend the time chamfering and carving the seat. It doesn’t really improve comfort that much, but the visual effect is worth the time. Stretchers are also worth it. While the legs are plenty strong (see this post), there is noticiable flex when my 195 pound rear sits down. Doesn’t really make me worried, but it was disconcerting when I first experienced it. The stretchers were easy and fun to make, plus I think they look way cool. Which brings me to the real point of this post. I want to talk about turning.
I suck at turning.
The image below clearly demonstrates this.
I turned these tapers for the legs using an Easywood tool and was utterly unable to keep the corners from chipping. Need more practice. But you know what, chair still worked. I planed off the chip out, tapered the tenons, and wedged that leg into the seat. The stretchers worked out a little better. I used a sharpened wrench to size the tenons for the 5/8 hole I made in the legs. I suggest you use a metric wrench one size larger than the hole. That made a squeaky tight fit that worked great. I think that wrench is a 16 mm. You can see the sharpened cutting edge on the top. Wrench steel does not make for a really durable edge.
The other thing I took away from this experience is that it’s way easier to turn maple. This should be a ‘doh thing, but nothing matches personal experience. If you are going to turn only one wood in your life, make it maple. It’s great. Oak is a pain in the ass.
This did make me want to turn a lot more. It’s fun. You produce mountains of shavings and there’s lots of toys you could buy. But you don’t really need the toys. I have an ancient and crappy 12 inch craftsman lathe (it’s from the ’90s, so not really ancient), and two turning tools. An easywood rougher and a skew chisel. I can’t use the skew well, but I’m learning. I’m pretty convinced that you don’t really need much more in the way of tools to do turnings for chairs or furniture.