Thursday, May 26, 2022

Schwarz Three-Leg Stool

A few years ago, the Schwarz wrote about a three-legged stool and he also provided the plans for it (he may have called it the "staked high stool").  I always thought it looked sharp, and I had saved the plans for "someday".  That day finally got here.

It started with gluing up pieces of red alder for the legs and stretchers.  For the seat, I used a piece of a glue-lam table top that someone was giving away.  All recycled wood, as usual.

The parts: legs and stretchers glued up, seat cut to size

Legs and stretchers octagonal and tapered

The legs were straight for the top 3-4", then tapered the rest of their length.  The straight section needed to be shaped into a round taper to fit into the round tapered mortises that will be in the seat.  And the design of the leg was such that I couldn't use a tapered tenon cutter, at least not easily.  So I bored and tapered a hole in some scrap, and put pencil marks all over the inside of the hole.  After giving the top of the leg a rough taper with a drawknife, I inserted the leg in the hole, pulled it out and saw where material needed to be removed.  Several iterations got the taper just right.

Marking inside of a tapered hole with pencil

Testing the fit of the leg tenon, clear triangle used to verify leg is at 90°

With scraper, removing the high spots that are marked with pencil

The holes in the seat were bored with a brace and bit, then tapered with the tapered reamer, using sliding bevel and square to verify the proper angle.

Sliding bevel lining up the angle

Small square (barely visible here - see previous picture)
lines up with the reamer center-line and seat center layout line

Boring holes in the legs was fairly straightforward.  In the next picture, notice the yellow rubber band on the benchtop.  It was wrapped around the two front legs at the marked height of the stretcher and a sliding bevel was used to get the proper angle to bore the holes for the front stretcher: stock of the bevel on the leg, blade along the rubber band.

To form the stretchers' straight cylindrical tenons I sawed shoulders and cheeks, then rounded what was left using a small rasp.  The fit was tested in a scrap piece before committing to the real thing.

Used the chair itself to help align the brace for rear leg mortise.  The back of the
brace's chuck was aligned with the center of the front stretcher.  The
ratcheting feature was absolutely needed when boring this one.

Using a mirror and square to bore the mortise in the front stretcher

Large end of the front-to-back stretcher - cheek cuts done

One more shoulder cut to make, then round the tenon with rasp

I did some things differently from the plans.  One big deviation was the shaping of the seat - his is just flat on top and I wanted to saddle this one.  So I marked out a shape and drilled some holes as depth guides.  It went from 5/8" deep near the back to 3/8" at the front.  In retrospect, I might have gone a little deeper.

Seat saddling laid out

I mainly used a small curved-sole plane and a shoe lath shave to carve out the seat.  This was a LOT of work!!  Man, I've got to get a scorp.  Or maybe a bowl adze or similar tool.  The plane was a Sellers design and was the first plane I ever made, probably about 8 years ago.  But I don't think I ever hardened and tempered the O-1 steel iron.  While using it on this stool seat, it dulled quickly.  So I got out my torches and canola oil and hardened and tempered it.  What a difference that made!  The cutting edge lasted SO MUCH LONGER!

The tools used to shape the seat

Made some tapered plugs to fill the holes in the seat while shaping it
so that I wouldn't blow out the edges of the holes.
Look carefully and you can see them in place in the next pics.

Using the curved sole plane

Right side almost done

Anyway, back to the shoe lath shave.  That thing worked GREAT!  And it was really fun to use.  It didn't take very thick shavings, but it cut nicely and held its edge well.  Can't wait to use it again.  Curtis Buchanan cut off the handles on his so it could get into more tightly radiused areas.  I'd hate to cut the handles off mine - maybe if I had another one I wouldn't feel too bad about it.

After finishing the seat with scrapers and some sandpaper, a dry-fit was done and it was on to glue-up.

Dry-fit - all looks good

Wow - a glue-up with only two clamps!

Another difference from the plan was the angle of the seat - mine angles back about 4°, a few degrees less than the plan.

And here she is was a few coats of shellac.  There are a few things I would change if I was to make another.  First, I have a skinny ass and the saddled seat is wider than I need.  Also, the seat itself could be narrower, and maybe an inch or two deeper.  Fun build, though.  And it's pretty comfortable to sit in, especially with my feet up on the front stretcher.

Glamour shot


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Poto. This one really wasn't too tough. But it would be a lot easier if I did the individual operations on a more frequent basis.

  2. Have you ever come across replacement blades for the shoe lath shave? I have one with a cracked blade and been unable to find a suitable replacement. Gav

    1. Hi Gav. In my post about the shave a few months ago I joked that there's probably 0 chance of ever finding a replacement iron for it. And if you do, would it be the right size? But you never know. Maybe there's a forum for shoemakers, just like the forums for woodworkers, knifemakers, plane restorers, etc. I'm bringing mine to an old tool show today - maybe one of the guys will know about it. Would love to know if you find one. Oh, and maybe a welder could help with the crack.

    2. Gav, I went to a tool show today and the people there recognized my shoe lath shave more as a leather-working tool. They agreed that it might be tough finding a replacement iron. Some mentioned that it's possible that people who make saddles or similar heavy leather items might be some help if you're looking for this type of shave. Who knows - you might get lucky and someone in a leather shop might have a shave like this - or know where to get one. Good luck!