Joint stools, carvings and other joinery stuff

Chris wrote about the stool book the other day;  our end of it is winding down now. I made several stools during the course of shooting photos for it. Often I just needed a detail of one process or another; so the last two were a couple of shorter joint stools just to use up some random stock  Here’s one of them:


child's joint stool


This one has carved aprons – I often have carvings laying around, having done them as demos or instruction. I think one rail was just that, then I made the others to match.  Watch this blog for some unexpected uses of carving patterns.

The other night I watched some episodes of Roy Underhill’s show, one of which was the joint stool one we did with Megan Fitzpatrick.

I was reminded that one of the stools I took down to the Woodwright’s School last summer served multi-duty – teaching example/sample, and TV prop, then photo fodder for the book. Finally, I finished building the thing – and photographed it for real the other day.


child's joint stool w scrolled stretchers


The apron has a braid carved in it; I discussed this on the blog when I cut these rails;

There is also a scrolled stretcher; I didn’t discuss this in the book. They are simple enough to do; here is a period example on a joined chair from Plymouth Colony. This chair has long since been restored; rather generically. This pre-restoration photo shows the scrolled profile on the aprons, stretchers and rear rail just above the seat.


Plymouth Colony wainscot chair, pre-restoration

Here, you can see the same stuff on the side rails too.

side view


This pattern works easily if you first cut a rabbet in the rail. Then the scroll work/chisel work is done in a piece of oak that’s half the thickness…makes sense. I bore a hole at one end of the scroll, make some sawcuts here & there, then cut out the details with a chisel and mallet. You can use a bow-saw, turning saw, whatever it’s called, or just shape it with chisels and straight saw cuts. Hmmm. Now that’s another photo essay at some point. Not this week, though…

Meanwhile, here’s a re-assigned carving –

re-assigned carving



9 thoughts on “Joint stools, carvings and other joinery stuff

  1. I love that Plymouth wainscot armchair. I have not seen it published before. Has it been to your knowledge? The half columns at the lower section of the stiles are great!!!

    • HI Erik; you have seen that chair, just not in that shape. Its restoration is mainly conjecture. It’s in St George’s Wrought Covenant. the chair is at the Newport Historical Society. I got the old B&Ws from St. George & Trent. I always wonder, what would that chair look like new? Like the “serrated” chests, with moldings & turnings? Picture the crest with the large moldings from around the drawers…

      Oh, well. we won’t know til another one turns up.

  2. I just saw the Roy Underhill episode on this, which I very much enjoyed. I’ve been wondering how the top is attached. All I can see is what looks like four square pegs, but I can’t be sure. Care to enlighten me?

    • Hi Steve,

      Yep, the top is attached with very dry, square pegs, one into each leg, through the top. Figure about 3/8″ square or so I think, holes drilled just a smidge undersize, and angled to coincide with the legs.

      Another option is to peg the seat to the rails instead of the legs, but that’s a bit more dicey a drilling job.

      Hope this helps.

  3. I like the reassigned carving. I did that not long ago on a box. Of course this tends to work better in historical reproductions when your not making for modern sensibilities.

  4. Hi Peter,

    Very nice work, as usual. Out of curiosity…and since I now have an 11 month old running around the house….how significantly did you downsize the dimensions for the various parts of the stool to accomodate a child’s smaller size? Or did you measure of a particular child for a “custom” fit?


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