28 March 2015 at 10:18 pm #126042
Hi all, this is a little oak bench my parents have always had and I’d like to make a replica. Any suggestions for how to carve the seat? Also, would a stool like this have had a specific purpose? The maker was based in Shrewsbury, UK.
Cheers 🙂28 March 2015 at 11:12 pm #126045Steve FollisParticipant
Check out the Wood Whisperer on uTube. He has a series on a step stool sitting bench with a similar seat. That may have some good info to start with.
Memphis, Tennessee28 March 2015 at 11:57 pm #126047
Thanks, I just had a look at that series but I don’t have access to a band saw and I’d like to try this using hand tools.29 March 2015 at 2:28 am #126049Matt McGraneParticipant
I’m thinking brute force. Here are a couple possibilities. In either case, make a template to draw the curve on the two sides (or is that front and back?) of the seat.
First, you can make stop-cuts with a handsaw every inch or so, increasing in depth until you get to the deepest point in the center. Then go at it with a chisel, removing the waste. Clean up with a spokeshave and scraper. If you’ve built the little curved plane that was the subject of one of Paul’s videos, that would be great to use.
Another method might be to cut a dado with a router plane at the deepest part of the seat recess. Cut the dado to the full depth. Maybe you could cut more than one dado (just a variation of my saw cut method above – just much wider kerfs). Then go at it with chisel and clean up as above.
Just some thoughts …
Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016: http://tinyshopww.blogspot.com/29 March 2015 at 1:58 pm #126062chemical_cakeParticipant
I’m with Mr McGrane, stop cuts and chisel work should sort out most of the waste quite quickly.
The task of cleaning up the resultant surface to that smooth and consistent curve will be the tricky bit. As it’s not too tight a curve I might try using a normal bench plane with a fairly cambered blade going across the grain (though not all the way through, or the other side will split off) to get most of the clean-up done. The narrower plane the better, i.e. not any of the 4 1/2s, 5 1/2s etc., and a deeper than normal set or the blade probably won’t make contact with the wood.
To finish up with the grain is up to you; you could sand (hand or power), scrape, spokeshave, whatever is most effective and available to you. Experiment.
I do rather like that stool, I’m tempted to try making one myself.
Southampton, UK29 March 2015 at 9:25 pm #126071
Stop cuts are the obvious answer, thanks. I’ve not got the experience to see solutions like that straight away. Glad you both suggested a spokeshave, as I’ve already got a few of those 🙂 Not made the little curved plane yet, but that would be ideal. I’ll try cross grain with a no4 too.
This suddenly seems quite straightforward.29 March 2015 at 9:28 pm #126072
PS next time I visit my parents I’m going to take some better photos and do some sketches with dimensions etc. will post them when complete.31 March 2015 at 4:54 pm #126130Marilyn MorenoParticipant
Thought you might like to look at the Stool made in the series here:
He shows 2 ways to shape the seat: one with the bandsaw and the other by hand.
At around 47:00 Paul carves the seat by hand using a gouge to take out the bulk.
P.S. haven’t done it myself, but spotted it in the video library..
Marilyn - Lehigh Valley, Eastern Pennsylvania - USA3 April 2015 at 10:59 pm #126246
I did think about using a gouge and I’ve watched that series. The gouge makes sense for an ‘enclosed’ area with complex contours. The bench seat I’ve pictured is simpler and allows for stop cuts, which I think will be quicker. I’d like to tackle Paul’s bench stool at some point, I love the way the legs are carved to create the illusion of a curve. Simple and elegant.18 April 2015 at 2:28 pm #126555MaxWheelerParticipant
I would use a draw knife to remove all the material. If you sharpen it properly (much like a firmer chisel) it is a very versatile tool. Almost like a giant spokeshave without a fine adjust.
Swindon, England2 December 2016 at 11:02 pm #143005
This is an old thread, but I wanted to to update it. I finally got round to making a replica of this stool. I followed the advice given and it worked well. Although not pictured, I used stop cuts on the bench seat, then chiselled out the waste and refined with the spokeshave and scraper. I’ve no idea what the black staining is on the seat. There were a few other imperfections on the wood, it wasn’t the best quality but I wanted to use it. Filled a few splits with epoxy. The scraper was invaluable for the shaping. I still need to do some final shaping and cut the mortises for the pegs. Will probably use danish oil to finish.3 December 2016 at 10:11 am #143011FrankMParticipant
That is a beautiful little stool. Very nice workmanship. Could you post the dimensions, length, width, height, thickness, depth of seat at lowest point? I would like to try this project. Also, what wood did you use?3 December 2016 at 10:35 pm #143021
Thanks, it’s been very enjoyable to build. It’s the first thing I’ve made entirely by hand, so I’ve appreciated the simple joinery and the chance to try some shaping. I used a slab of oak I bought locally many years ago, which I’ve found to be of variable quality depending on where I’ve taken the components from. It seems dry and brittle, but still very useable. I tried to stick to heartwood but you can just see the colour change on the stretcher that indicates some sapwood. I’ll probably break from the original design and screw four short lengths of flat bar to the top of the legs with a 3/4 inch overhang towards the front and back edges of the seat, then rout recesses in the underside of the seat to sit over the bar. I can then screw up through the bar into the underside of the seat so the brackets won’t be seen.
I have attached a photo of the very rough plan I worked from. I had to slim down the thickness of the legs as I didn’t have the necessary thickness in my stock. The original is oak, and I used oak, but I think any timber would work. It’s a utilitarian piece, probably thrown together from what they had lying around in the workshop when it was made 🙂
Let me know if you have any questions.3 December 2016 at 10:44 pm #143024
PS centre of seat is only 1/2 inch thick. The curvature of the seat gives it strength though. If I was making it again I’d probably go for 5/8 inch for additional peace of mind.6 December 2016 at 1:28 pm #143102FrankMParticipant
Thank you very much for the drawing and possible modifications. I really like the lines and proportions of this little bench. Now all I need is to find a decent slab of oak. The big box stores have run all of the good old fashioned lumber yards out of business so I will have to drive 50-60 miles to pay through the nose for oak. Thanks again and nice work.
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