Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Saddle Stool ready!

After vacation and some tool rehab side projects, back to the stool build.

Where did I stop last time? Oh yes, legs have been done, seat was shaped and I was asking if I should saddle the stool.
To make it short, I have decided to not doing it. It's a prototype and I will build another one from better material. Then I will care about the seat plank a bit more.
That said the next step was to glue in the legs and to wedge them.

I've sawed a slot in every leg end tenon.

Sawing the slots for the wedges

Then I have made some wedges....

A wedge for every leg

....and wedged every leg.

Finally I have glued in the legs and drove home the wedges.

After the glue was cured I sawed the ends flush. Now I could see that all of the joints were a bit patchy.

Flush cut joint (and gaps)

The last action was to cut the legs to length. That for I have made a very special jig ;-)
I have clamped a piece of wood into my vise and clamped a pencil at the desired height. Then I have flipped the stool over so that the seat was laying flat on my bench and scribed a line at every leg.

Incredible height jig ;-)

The legs were cut to length by sawing along the pencil line. If you will saw along the pencil line you will have a nice cut at the end and just a little point in the middle to plane of.

Sawing along the pencil line

All this done I gave the stool a finishing. The seat was painted with some lacquer varnish in black (which is somehow translucent so you can see the grain structure) and the legs received my typical wax varnish.

More or less finished

Here I am - Stool done!

And here is what I was aiming for: Ercol Saddle Stool example

Not too bad, or? But wait....

What can I say? I am pretty unsatisfied and unhappy with the result of the project.
From a design point of view the stool is looking like what I was aiming for (without being a copy cat).
From a technical point of view the stool is full of issues.

What Have I Learned?

This is my first experience in making a seating. Even this simple stool is full of little quirks.

It started with figuring out how splay and rake of the legs is working and how it has to be laid out.
That alone costs me hours of thinking. Finally I found out how to layout both angles and  it looked liked a piece of cake since this moment.

Drilling the holes into the seat plank is easy. Just make a little jig which helps you to hold your brace at the right angles.
Even at this point it was found, that the chosen wood for the seat plank is not ideal. At latest when reaming, it was much more obvious. I had chip and tear out at every hole which made them dead ugly.

Shaping the legs was easy to do. A plane, a spoke shave and a scraper are sufficient to do this task.
Nevertheless, it requires some practice to get the desired shape.
Tapering the legs ends requires some attention. I have tapered the first leg from the wrong end. Not the end of the world, but it was not really to fix. Apart from tapering all legs on the wrong end too.
And this is the second serious issue I have. The tapered tenons did not fit the reamed holes properly. All leg ends have got a little gap if the they were inserted into their holes.
So that has to be improved and I have to make some more tests. Either the tenon cutter is not properly adjusted or the reamer. My guess is, it is the tenon cutter.

To shape the seat plank seemed to be an easy task. But once again - I have chosen the wrong material for the seat. The second point is that I think it would have been better to chose another grain direction.
In any direction you have to shape end grain. I have chosen to run the grain from front to back, which means that I had to shape end grain at the most awkward location - at the back of the seat where I have got that nice cut out. I think it would have been much easier to handle if that would have been long grain.

And last but not least, have I mentioned that I have chosen the wrong seat material with the wrong grain direction?
I think the problem is not the wood species (it's Spruce). The problem is the board I have used.
It is one of these laminated softwood boards you can buy at a big box store. The material they are using for these type of boards is really crappy. It is brittle so that I had chip and tear out all the time. The end grain is not really to handle because they don't care about the grain direction when these boards are laminated. I think that is because they were made for machining them.
I haven't thought about it enough as I have chosen the grain direction. Now, the stool ready, I'm recognizing that the board is flexing. I guess that will end in a break. My assumption is, that it would have been better to have the grain running from left to right.


Anyway, the reason for building a prototype is to figure out all such issues and to learn from.
I have learned a lot of new things, but I have to deepen and to solidify these skills.

I won't give up. I like these little stools a lot and I would like to have a self made version. Furthermore I've got another chair design in mind.
For new tries I need some new material. On Monday I have ordered it.
Next I will try Ash for the seat plank.

Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. Thank You for sharing your reflections on how you have made the stool. It really looks professionally made and easy to make. A good use of worn out saddle.