Chairmaking Diversion: Making a Staked Stool

The first thing I must do in this blog is give kudos to those that have gone before me (and done better posts, too). Specifically here.

So after seeing how staked furniture ought to be made, let’s go into the process I used to make my first piece. What’s the point of the build? Well, not a long time ago, I decided to make a four-sided box using hand-cut dovetails. It was hardly a show piece, but it held together and I was amazed at the idea I could build something strong without nails, screws or glue. This stool build is like that.

I started with a 5/4” piece of what I believe to be hickory. Toughest wood I’ve ever worked with. Drilling four holes in a hickory plank, aside from making the 5/8” auger bit smoke, was all just about all I could muster. Some basic layout was done with a compass, and a sliding bevel set a consistent angle for the holes to be drilled.


Straight holes weren’t the object of the exercise, though. So here’s where the tapered reamer made it’s first appearance. The reamer doesn’t eject shavings, but rather collects them in the bevel near the hooked edge. Tough going, but completed four very inexact reamings in about 10 minutes’ work.


Wait, where did those sticks come from? Well, how about a picture?


To work the legs, I went grabbed a drawknife and headed over to the shaving horse. Yeah, really. I found the horse in a run-down antique mart a couple of years ago and ‘had to have it.’ It’s been taking up space ever since, so there’s no way it was going to stand idly by when there are spokes to shave!

I have a source of very-straight-grained pine that was ripped it to four even sides before heading to the shaving horse. Once clamped in, the drawknife took four sided material and made it more like a leg’d shape; not eight sided, and certainly not anything that could be mistaken for round as that wasn’t the object. Just take them back from square.

From there it was over to the bench, where two separate tools were at the ready: a tenon cutter and a hollow auger cutter. The tennon cutter was set to the 5/8” setting…


And the hollow auger carried that size down about 3/4″…


A picture of the hollow auger cutter:


Then it was back to the shaving horse, this time with drawknife and the #52 Stanley spokeshave. After a bit of tapering (to match the work done by the reamer, duh!), I was ready to drive everything home. The ends were sliced cross-grain to take shims…


then the mallet came out.


Drove in the (ugly)shims then cut off the excess  with the Gent’s saw.

And then I realized something: The stinking system worked! I have a very, very sturdy stick stool!


Like the dovetail box many years before, I’m happy with this build as a proof of concept. I’ve now broken the ice, I’ve made staked furniture. Bigger and better things will certainly follow. That’s all for today, thanks for looking!


6 thoughts on “Chairmaking Diversion: Making a Staked Stool

  1. No, I am not. It’d be nice to use green(-ish) wood for the seat, because that’s supposed to shrink tight to the legs and spindles over time. But too many things competing for attention to have a reasonable exception to get green and finish a build on a timeline (while it’s still green).

  2. And two things I’ll improve on next time re: shims: Take more time to make them uniformly long and equal in taper is the first. Also, driving home the shims will be a two-step process; the material standing ‘proud’ will be trimmed a bit before shimming, to get the wedging action closer to the workpiece right off the bat. Then do a second trim of material. Hope that makes sense.

  3. countercosta1952

    Hey, just thought I’d ask a few more questions. Inquiring minds need to know!

    Is there a scale on the tenon cutter or do you just measure from the lip?

    On the AA Woods, could you post close up pic of the cutter?


  4. hey! nice stool, nice tool (reamer), one little critique (not criticism)(as in a critique is intended to make your work better in the future and a criticism is intended to make you feel bad) it looks like you reamed the leg holes so that they were larger on the top (reamed from the top down). ? in Windsor chair making the hole is reamed wider at the bottom and the leg’s tenon is tapered to match so that if the glue ever gives up, the legs stay wedged tight in their hole. the more you sit the tighter it stays. if you reamed the other way (bottom to top) then I am an ignorant putz who didn’t read everything correctly…. if you did ream as I said it looks like you did, please try another stool done the other way and compare them while you use them. over all I’d say you done good!

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