Pick Your Seat.

I'd decided to participate in Chris Wong's online, community based. Shop Stool Build Off. I find the concept of a group generating individual ideas on a simple form and collectively sharing the process of design and building gives me warm and fuzzy feelings. It's a fantastic idea.

In the days leading up to and surrounding the holidays, I started to focus my thinking and daydreaming on the design for my new shop stool. I cast a wide net and pulled in several ideas. I tried to explain the process of elimination in my post HERE. Until I realized I was looking for inspiration inside the "box" labeled Stool . . .

____________(insert your own fecal matter joke here) ___________!

. . . . and I find good design comes from (cliche) outside the box thinking.

I have developed a small but obsessive idea about designing a piece of furniture made precisely for the environment it's going to occupy. Not just in ergonomic terms of use, and not just in the simple height/width/depth numbers. But something that "belongs" in the space and is as organic and natural a feel as finding a lichen covered rock along a forest trail. David Mathias and his great book "Poems of Wood and Light' planted this seed in my mind. (I wrote about it HERE) and I have been slowly exploring the concept in drawings and beginning to apply the concept to my home.

So after looking at hundreds of Google Search images of stools, I backed off and rethought my approach. I was trying to cram a stool design I liked into my shop, but why not take a shop design I like and cram it into a stool instead. . . .

I wanted something iconic and recognisable. Of late, especially on the internet, there is nothing more iconic and recognisable that the Roubo Workbench. Slab built, laminated split top, leg vise or plane stop, whatever flavor you like 'em, they are the hot, must have shop accessory for the new generation. To be honest, there are times I'd like to upgrade my bench to one too.

Even more than all the choices of top and work holding, there is one thing I think of that seems to consistently have that "Roubo" feel for me when it comes to looking at Roubo benches. The iconic touch is the through double tenon.

This picture was borrowed from Chris Schwarz's blog at Lost Art Press, The original post is found HERE

The outer tenon is flush with the outside edge and dovetailed. To me, this joint is what says, "I'm a Roubo workbench" This joint was the jumping off point for my sketchbook.

I'm still playing with details, so there are some things about the sketch that will make it into the final product and some that won't. The real refinement of an idea comes at the bench. I realize there will be some issues with grain direction and the through dovetailed tenons, but I plan to work that out based on what the stock gives me when I cut for the seat.

Most likely the stool will be built from white oak. There is an off chance I will make the seat and the lower stretchers from walnut.

What I like about the design on paper. I like the through tenons in the top and in the legs. I like the idea of drawbore pining those tenons with an accent wood. And I like the idea that the design says I was built for a woodworking studio, (at least to me).

What I have to work on. I don't care for the cross-junction I sketched for the lower stretchers, and I think these will need to be finessed well to look correct. Both in their height versus the thickness of the seat and legs and in their proportional placement between the floor and the seat top. Not too high, not too low, definitely not in the middle.

There's a snapshot of my process. Now I can only hope that January 25th will be a mild enough winter day that my little kerosene heater can make the shop comfortable to work in.


I would really, really like to see as many people as possible join in on this project. big numbers will only make it better. As I build on the 25th I will be posting regular updates throughout the day on my Facebook page (which counter posts on twitter) and less frequently throughout the day, here on the blog. (I'm going to try and keep it to no more than four posts here that day.)

I'd like to find a way to live stream video from in the shop. Mostly because that's new and uncharted tech territory for me. I wouldn't hold your breath on that one though.

But, please consider joining in on the fun, and make sure you head over to Chris Wong's event page and register.



Ratione et Passionis


  1. This group build/contest definitely sounds fun. I had the impression that the stools were supposed to be built in a day, but maybe not. All those double tenons are going to take a while and be a challenge, but will definitely look nice.

    1. Hi Andy, Thanks for the comment and the kind words.

      My plan is to build this stool in one day though some stock preparation may have to take place before hand. I have to double check the stock I have available, I think I'll have to laminate some pieces to get the thickness of leg I'm looking for and I don't want to spend the 25th waiting for the glue to dry.

      I think cutting the mortise and tenons will be a challenge, that's what I like about the idea, but I believe it's doable. If I can dovetail join four corners of a chest in a day then cutting 12 through M&T joints should be in the realm of realistic.

      I could be wrong, but I won't know if I don't try and the key I have on my side is planning. I may try to build the stool in one day, but I can plan the attack for weeks and I'll come into the shop with a step by step "order of operations" to keep me organized and on track.

      That will be my secret weapon. :)

      Are you planning on playing along with the build?


  2. Derek I'm more at the 2x4 and nails sawhorse end of the workshop project business right now, but I will be following your progress.
    The stool looks ambitious. Your plan sounds feasible though and stretching helps you grow.
    Dave N.
    aka Old Sneelock

  3. One thought I had for the idea of imitating a Roubo bench - what if the legs were far bulkier (and not tapered) than you would "normally" see on a stool of this height? Might at least be an interesting paper experiment.

  4. Hi derek

    Your original design of the Roubo Bench shop stool. Really blow me up.
    I didn't ask your permission, but I decided to follow your original design. Of the Roubo shop stool , and make me one , well almost.. I didn't have the wood stock width, needed for the legs. So I alter it to what i has in stock. I made my stretchers with two loss tenones each, to stay with the design. The wood I used was pine. And I made it tall . So when I sit my legs will stay on the floor. like half standing . So I can still continue woorking on the bench top.
    I would like to post some pictures on this page so you can see it done. But I can not find the way to do it.
    Instead, I post a link to a page of a hebrew site for woodworking, where I posted my work. I know most of the write will look like Gebrish to you. But The title of the post is in english. just look at the pictures of the Work process. I hope U enjoy it' the way I did

    Dolev meir

    here is the link


    1. Dolev,

      I am humbled by your excellent work. Looking at your work I wish I'd had the courage to stay with that original drawing design instead of wimping out and changing the seat shape to rectangular which I'm less happy with.

      I'm going to have to revisit this in the future when I've got a touch of time. Again fantastic work and thank you for sharing with me.



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