No Shop Seating? Modify a Stool with Walnut and Maple // How to Build - Woodworking
Welcome to another WoodShaped video. Today we build a shop stool out of Walnut and Hard Maple. I’m definitely all about standing and staying on your feet. It’s healthier and most days I prefer it but sometimes you just want to relax a minute and sit down and do your woodworking. Too much time has gone by in my shop without some kind of shop seating so I felt it was time to start the new year off right and at least get one stool into the shop. Since I have people over regularly for a woodworking night. I’ll probably make a couple more from scratch.
For this build I took an older stool that wasn’t being used as an actual stool and decided to convert it into something shop worthy. The existing stool had a soft black fabric, which sounds great but not very practical for a dusty shop as it would have collected dust. Shop seating must be all wood unless you have some kind of vinyl or leather seat and those are great too. I’ve recently seen Marc Spagnuolo with a Powermatic stool and Jay Bates has a commercial rolling shop stool. Those are wonderful and I’d probably use them if I had them but this worked out good for my situation. I’ll keep an eye out for cool stools in the future. I’d love to have an older rustic shop stool with a Jeep logo or automobile logo on it.
I started by removing the old stool seating which literally took about 10 seconds. There were braces underneath with screws drilled directly into the plywood piece underneath the stool cushion. Once the seat was removed I decided that I wanted to see what was underneath the darker finish. Turned out to be some kind of lighter birch. The stool was originally made in Italy. I think we purchased it at one point from Bed, Bath and Beyond and it’s good to know that they carry quality products. The stool seemed very well made and constructed while being a pretty simple and basic design.
From here it was lots of sanding and it’s not the easiest job to remove an existing finish. It takes a lot of sanding in the same spot to break through the finish and then you have to get around the tight corners and there are a lot of those with this stool design. Once sanding was complete I used mineral spirits to clean the stool up before I moved on to working on a new stool seat.
For the stool seat I started by cutting the pieces I needed right from my lumber rack. First the maple then the walnut. As you would expect I cut slightly over the dimensions that I would need for the seat and it turned out to be very very close and that’s good that I didn’t waste stock! I started preparing the wood by milling it to rough dimensions. I resewed the maple into just under 1 inch for both pieces and only used 1 half. The other will be used for future projects.
After milling both the maple and the walnut I started glue up and decided on a thick striped pattern maple on the outside and a thick walnut stripe in the middle. Looked a lot like a cutting board at first as Peter Capar had pointed out to me on Instagram and he was right! LOL - I may have to get a few cutting boards made from this stock.
Once the glue-up was complete I started working on the mortise and tenons as this is how I would attach the seat to the legs. Once I had the seat marked where I wanted it with respect to the legs, I measured a half inch from the corners to start drilling 1/4 inch holes to start the mortises. I took it over to the drill press and drilled those holes. Took the seat back over to the legs, clamped it and then also drilled the holes into the legs to ensure the seat would line up perfectly with the leg tops. I cut my 1/4 inch tenons using offcuts and trimmed those not he bandsaw. Off camera I cleaned up the tenons using my hand plane to ensure they were completely flat on all sides and measured exactly 1/4 inch.
After getting all the holes drilled and everything lined up i started on the mortises with my 1/4 inch Lie Nielsen chisel. I marked the 1/4 inch with the previously created tenons and then began chiseling out the mortises. This is a delicate process, you want to go slow even though this is sped up in my video. Chisel out just slightly inside the lines on one face of the seat only going half way deep then flip it over and repeat on the other side of the mortise. If you try going all the way through you will tear out the edge of the mortise on the other side. Repeat until the mortise is clean then pare back to the scribed line and test fit the tenon. Repeat this process on all holes until you have a snug fit. Continuing on I also chiseled out about an inch down into the stool legs using the same chiseling process and turning the stool legs upside down several times to remove waste. Once I was satisfied with the leg mortises I moved to attaching the seat.
Upon completion of mortise chiseling and tenon fitting I clamped the seat down threw some glue in the mortises, coated the tenons with glue and started driving them in. I drove them in just slightly proud of the seat top. Since I planned to power carve the seat I didn’t bother being picky about how proud these were.
When the stool seat mortise and tenons were dry, I removed the clamps and checked for how well the glue-up went and it was in great shape. Now it was time to power carve. I started out free handing the shape by sitting on the seat and contemplating the same of my own buns, but not for too long. I also free handed the side seat shape and once I was satisfied I began to power carve. My design included dual seating meaning you could sit from one of two sides of the stool and this matched up with the stool leg braces that you would put your feet on. I felt this would be a nice feature so I would not have to continually flip the stool around to get the correct fit every time I wanted to sit down.
Power carving, power carving and more power carving! I carved until I met with my scribed lines on the seat and until the shape was uniform on all sides. I finally made it to where I was satisfied and then began sanding out the disk marks. I started with 80 grit sand paper. 120, 240 and then finally 320 and stopped there. That was one smooth seat when all was said and done.
I finished off the seat with Real Milk Paint’s Pure Tung Oil I love this stuff. I’ve used it several times and I’m always excited to see the finish while applying it. This time did not disappoint and once it cures it leaves a nice rich color and smooth finish. Once applied I continued to wipe off the excess.
After allowing the seat to cure over a few days I tried it out again for the first time and WOW what a nice comfortable stool. I had tried it out after sanding and I knew I would be happy with it.
Thanks for reading and watching!
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