joined stool, trimming the feet

joined stool assembled


I assembled this joined stool the other day; it’s a slightly smaller than usual stool – I guess if I keep it I need another. But for now, what I wanted it for was to photograph the steps in trimming the feet. As you see, the rake of the sides results in feet that don’t sit even.

joined stool feet, detail


So the first step is to shim the feet until the sides of the stool are plumb. This is done with some small wooden wedges and a framing square.

shim the stool


Once I am satisfied with the way it sits, I scribe with a compass around the feet. I open the comass up so that I am about 1/2″ above the highest point on the foot; it’s easier to saw off a thicker chunk than a thinner one. So this consideration goes all the way back to when I turned the foot; I try to leave it a little longer than what I want to end up with.

using the compass to scribe the feet


I lean on the stool to keep in wedged in place, then run the compass around all four feet to mark where I want to trim them.

scribing stool feet detail


I then secure the stool to the bench with a holdfast, and saw the feet to the scribed line. If all goes well, it sits just fine off the saw. Sometimes a chisel or spokeshave is used to correct some mis-deed with the saw.

trimming stool feet


Now it sits nice & even, depending on the flat-ness of the bench, and the floor it might go on…but it’s close enough.

feet trimmed on stool

12 thoughts on “joined stool, trimming the feet

  1. Very rad. I was leveling a stool just the other month. Didn’t have this nifty technique in my repertoire so I sat the stool on the bench top, laid a saw flat and leveled the feet one saw-kerf at a time. I thought there must be a better way… and there is!


  2. Are those Dennis in Ipswich turnings? Where is the carving from? You should make an all-90-degrees stool I can upholster for you. In that case, make the seat rails super thick. Q: doesn’t upholstering a stool made with riven stock mean that the tacks would go into the ray plane? Would that matter? I kind of don’t think so. That is, tacls won’t rive the rails longitudinally. I’ve never consulted English upholstered stuff to check that, but maybe they would select plain-sawn stuff for the seat rails.

    • Yes, Trent. it is the turning from the Ipswich chairs, and a Devon-inspired lunette from a photo of a press cupboard sold in the US years ago. You gave me the photo from the St George box…

      I assume the tacks are not enough to split the rails apart…but who knows.

  3. Trent:
    Years ago you upholstered a vertical post stool I had made. You used linen strapping, horsehair, wool fabric and decorative trim. Your upholstering is first rate and has held up well over the years. The stool is made of rived wood oriented throughout in the traditional manner. There are no problems with the strapping or seating tacks. I recall I made the seat rails thicker following your suggestion. Peter has a shot of the stool if he would like to put it up. Unfortunately, it was early days and I do not like my paint job. I like the stool and your work and agree with your suggestion that you and Peter make one.

  4. Well it also depends on whether or not one elects to make stools like the Knole ones, which have a down cushion sewn to the seat. If it’s a regular sat like your piano stool, no problem. Please note that Follansbee is influenced (I think) by the turnings and lower=than-ordinary seat height of the two Searle-Dennis armchairs, which are (complete with feet) something like 16 1/2″ at the seat board, as opposed to many other joined armchairs which are 20″/21″ at seat board. The inventories commonly distinguish between low and high chairs, meaning seat height, although low need not necessarily mean female height. It might mean in some instances dining versus parlor height although this isn’t certain either.

  5. Also I have an agenda which is to upholster a stool or stools for Follansbee in return for a shaved stool with bark seat something like the Jennie Alexander one. Of an intermediate height for upholstery. I use my high joint stool for high and a junky modern tyaped stool for really low but I’d like an intermediate height one too. Passeri used to use an old music chair from the MFA Boston for his medium height. It had a back, which I prefer not to have.

  6. Jennie here. I once again criticize your low-lying stretchers. Upon magnification, it is clear that the tops of the stretcher tenons in the third photograph of your recent stool do not fill the tops of their mortises. I certainly agree there is no structural reason that tenons must fill entire mortise height. However, the simple failure to secure stool stretcher tenons up tight against the top of their mortises when marking the tenons for drawboring results in most unsightly joints. Temporarily wedge the tenons up while marking for drawboring. Or simply turn the stool over and knock the stretcher tenons down snug against their mortise tops. Oh yes a gap will result beneath the stretcher tenons but only Baby Jerome will study them. I seem to recall that there is no gap above the stretcher tenons in the Jacques stool at Winterthur, the impressive stool at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Duxbury stool at the Museum of Fine Art. I love your carving!

    • a tad severe here, JA. “simple failure” and “most unsightly” are perhaps a bit strong…

      remember, when this stool is on the floor, you won’t have this perspective. I doubt we’d even see that gap then – we’re at “Baby Jerome” height in the photos…

      I will scan your upholstered stool when I find the scanner software to reload after the hard drive crash…

  7. It is a real question regarding the decorum for joints. In most upholstered Cromwellian chairs, they seem to devote attention to making neat stretchers that abut on both shoulders, principally, one assumes, because they show. On the other hand, Jennie, the Dennis chair at the Peabody Essex Museum, made by Dennis for himself, has astounding gaposis in its seat rail mortises, ridiculous, in fact. Of course, these are masked somewhat by the overhanging seat board. Still, horrendous. All of this avoids Jennie Protocol #2.8, the only thing that matters in a draw-bore M&T joint is the abutment of the outer shoulder.

  8. Brother Trent:
    Abandon visible mortise stretcher gap-particularly in stools with flared stile ends. Jennie 3.2. Unsightly, yes, but even worse, the stretcher tenon shoulders may not fit snuggly against the stile. See Jennie 3.0. It helps when stool stiles are flared to test assemble with metal pins the two stiles and their end tenoned apron. Then, carefully measure the distance between the TOPS of the facing stile stretcher mortises and, only then, layout and saw the stretcher tenon shoulders. See Jennie 3.0 (b). Otherwise, not only may the resulting joint be unsightly (Jennie 3.2) but even more important, the stretcher shoulders may not seat snugly against the stiles, a clear violation of Jennie 3.0. Of course this also requires that when marking for drawboring, the stretcher tenons be up against the TOPS of their mortises.

  9. Jennie
    Many of the pieces I have made showed no gaps at the mortise after completion but over the months a gap opens on some of the joints. It happens especially when I have used wood that I have recently riven and is still pretty wet. The shoulders in most cases stay tight over time.

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