It’s been quite a while since I made a joined stool with chamfered stiles, instead of turned ones. I think the last time was the early 1990s, when Jennie Alexander & I taught it at Country Workshops. This past season, I taught a class at Roy Underhill’s, and most students (wisely) chose to chamfer their stiles, rather than turn them. So I decided I needed a recent model for next time. Here’s how I do them.
I scribe the layout with an awl & square, defining the ends of the chamfer, just as I would if it were a turning. Then I mark the edges with a marking gauge, eyeballing the breadth of the chamfer. I think I use about ½” setting on the gauge, maybe a little less. This line is struck twice on each face of the stile – once from each edge.
I make one more mark with the square & awl, to define the ends of the “stops.” Then I chop with a chisel & mallet straight down into the chamfer just inside the stop. Bevel towards the waste. It sometimes takes a couple of blows to get to the depth I want.
Then I chisel away the waste, down to the scribed lines. I prefer a chisel for a number of reasons, but you can use a drawknife and/or spokeshave too. I start with a chisel and mallet. One end of the stile is propped up in the corner blocks, or “joiners’ saddles” as they are called in Moxon & Holme. The other is jammed against the bench hook.
I finish paring with a long-bladed chisel and hand pressure. Here’s one grip I use for this:
I like the weight of this chisel for work like this, and the long blade is easier to shave a flat surface with than a shorter chisel. Here’s another way to hold it, with your fingers under the stile, and your thumb pushing down on the blade, as your hand drives it forward. Very steady. It’s a slicing cut too, the tool is skewed to the stock.
Finish the chamfer by taking light cuts right up against the stop. Here I am using a smaller chisel & have flipped it down on its bevel again to get the last shavings off.
Once you have the chamfer itself defined, it’s time to make the stops. Now, using the smaller chisel bevel down, come in at the corner and just scoop a bit off, towards the chamfer. I keep this from cutting all the way down to the depth of the chamfer, which leaves a little demarcation between this scooping and the flat chamfer.