Friday, January 3, 2014

Shop Stool Design.

There are things in life we take for granted and maybe we shouldn't. My shop stool is one of those things. It is a rectangular seat high bar stool. We bought a set of 3 on clearance at WalMart for the kitchen of our old apartment. They were on clearance.

I bucked at the idea at the time, but Mrs. Oldwolf wanted some seating today or soon and I admitted it would take a while for me to get around to building three high stools myself. They came home with us. We don't have a kitchen island in the new house and no real place for the stools to live. Two are around here somewhere. One made it out to my shop.


It works, but still, if I think about it, I'm not happy. Not with the stool, not with where it came from, not with the whole idea. But I hadn't really thought about it. . . .until Chris Wong over at Flair Woodworks made me think about it. Now I have to fix it.

You see Chris has introduced the fantastic idea of a community "shop stool build off" to take place on January 25th. He's building himself a new shop stool on that day and plans to live Blog, Tweet, and Tumbler the process. (hashtag #SSBO) But Chris doesn't want to star in the event alone, he wants as many people to join in as possible and stream their build online all in their own way. If you like the idea, head over and register at his blog. There will be some prizes from sponsors too.

http://flairwoodworks.com/shop-stool-build-off/

With the build about a month away I decided I should start thinking and planning my own take on a new stool.

I started by thinking of some of the very cool sculptural chair work I've seen by Andy Chidwick. I met him at a Woodworking Show in Milwaukee a few years ago and watching a couple of his presentations set my brain alight with design ideas for a couple weeks. Nothing has come from those drawings or ideas yet, but something will, and the concepts I picked up have helped me make better decisions in the shop.

This is a quick and terrible shot I took of one of Andy's high seat chairs. 
I didn't have to think about it long to realize a stool like this would not be shop worthy, it would have to join the elevated ranks known as "house furniture" Also, I wouldn't have a ghost of a chance of finishing it in a day. A sculpted stool would not be the answer.

Then I thought I would go with a more traditional design. Well, my kind of traditional.

One of Peter Follansbee's Joined Stools
I've wanted to build a Joined Stool for a while. Peter Follansbee's book on the form is inspiring.  What's slowed me down is the compulsion I have to do it right. I want to rive my stock from an oak log and learn to work it green and watch it dry. Still I considered making some concessions, raising the traditional height and using this form in the shop.

The other "traditional" form I was considering was the Moravian Stool form. Chris Schwarz wrote an article about it for Popular Woodworking Magazine a while back


It's simple and durable in form and function. The kind of simple that means you have to get all the details right. It would have been an excellent one day build. I was even tempted to add a back like so many antique examples have. The prospect of the back made to Moravian Stool especially tempting.


None of these ideas fell into my final plan.

I realized I had been going about this the wrong way. (At least for me) I had been looking at other stools, pages and pages of them on Google Images, for inspiration. I found ideas that were good, but didn't have the right feel I was looking for. The stools were all furniture, takes and ideas on "house furniture." I found fertile ground instead looking to "shop furniture" for inspiration.

I wanted to follow something iconic and recognisable. I think I found it.

Ratione et Passionis
Oldwolf

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