a gallery of Jennie Alexander’s joined stools

Well you wouldn’t know it by the blog, but I’ve been pretty busy lately. I just got back from Country Workshops last week, where 9 students made carved boxes in oak. On my way north, I stopped in to see Jennie Alexander. While I was there, I photographed Alexander’s joined stools. I know we’ve never looked at them in detail here, so now’s the time.

 Like the JA ladderback chairs, the joined stools are, in my mind, a modern adaptation of the period form. And just like the chairs, these are more slender than their historic counterparts. But all the construction and stock extraction, etc is following period work. This first one features upholstery by Bob Trent; so a collaboration between Alexander & Trent.

upholstered stool

Here’s a detail showing the supporting webbing underneath. Trent can give us details I’m sure.

linen webbing


All of these stools are red oak if I remember correctly; and date from 1989-1993 or so.  Here’s another one; with a nicely molded seat board; rabbet decoration in aprons; and the Alexander foot turning. Most early stools have lost their feet; we speculate as to what they were originally; and this is JA’s result.

joined stool

The next one is my favorite of the bunch; it has a black-painted crease molding on the aprons.

here’s a turning from one of these stools. I’d have to check my notes, but I think it’s about 10″ long:

turning detail

there’s another version; using a chamfered stile, instead of turned. I am going to copy this idea for the upcoming class at Roy Underhill’s, in case some students don’t want to tackle turning. This one also features two narrow boards butted side by side to make up the seat. These were not glued together. there is a slight gap, but they are still tightly pegged to the frame.

chamfered stiles

One of the stools with turned stiles has its seat pinned to the aprons, not to the stiles. JA drove the pins all the way through the aprons. the pins don’t bottom out that way!

seat pins exiting through aprons

We sometimes use a rabbet planed in the lower face of the aprons on stools. These are then decorated with punches & gouge-cuts. Like this:


and a table with a small drawer in its narrow dimension. Pine top. carved decoration, picked out in 3 colors. A very narrow rail above the drawer.


here it is open. Small half-blind dovetail, nailed through the sides into the end grain of the drawer front. side hung drawer slides on runners nailed to inside framing.


the table has no “rake” – its tenons are all cut with 90-degree shoulders. All the joined stools with wooden seats are raked, or splayed. The upholstered stool is done like the table. Here’s a view from the side of one of the raked stools



So that’s a batch of Alexander’s joined stools. I was glad to catch them all on digital shots, we have a slew of slides of them, but scanning slides can be a bit muddled.


anyone interested in making one of these, there’s still a few spaces in the upcoming class I’m teaching at the Woodwright’s School. Go here:


4 thoughts on “a gallery of Jennie Alexander’s joined stools

  1. Mr Follansbee:-

    My thanks to you and Alexander for sharing these with us, they are lovely. I agree with you, the one with the Black Crease Mouldings is my favourite as well. Thank you both, very much, for all you teach us.

    -Nathan W.

  2. Well the upholstered stool I did for JA is somewhat anomalous. Most period upholstered stools are not only 90-degree joints, but are deeper than the average joint stool with a wooden seat and battered sides. On this one I think I asked JA to make a rabbet at the top to recess the bulk of the covers. The best one to illustrate might be the New Haven one at the Wadsworth Atheneum, which has columnar turnings. I will send Peter pictures of the one I made at joint stool camp 20 years ago. It has chamfers on the posts.

  3. I noticed that the joint stools at Plimoth Plantation were heavier than those we made in the class at Country workshops (as per your comment above) and one done by an English friend is even lighter in weight. Were American stools heavier or are modern stools mostly lighter?

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