walnut joined stool assembled

It’s been ages and ages since I did any turning on a regular basis. I have a lot of it coming up this fall and winter, and in preparation for that work, I decided to start with some joined stools. The first one is in walnut instead of oak.

My lathe is the last piece in the workshop puzzle; as it is now, it’s been buried under/behind 2 chests, and all sorts of wood, projects, etc. So I shoved all that aside and turned these stiles recently. I started the first session with sharpening the gouges and skews, and turned one stile. So the next morning I did the other three. I’ve covered this stuff in the joined stool book and the wainscot chair video with Lie-Nielsen – but here’s some of it. First off, mark the centers on each end. I scribed the diagonal lines, then set a compass to see what size circle, and how centered it was (or wasn’t). I decided it needed a nudge a bit this way & that – so when I punched the center, I moved a little bit over.

Then rough out the cylindrical bits –

Then I use a story-stick to mark where to cut the various elements of the turnings, here one cove is cut and I’m lining up the stick to locate the other details.


I alternate between a skew chisel and narrow gouges to form the shapes.


Once I was finished with the turnings, time to bore the tenons for the pins, and assemble. Here, roman numerals ID the stretcher-to-stile.


Mark the joint, and bore the peg hole in the tenon.


No one, NO ONE, likes the way I shave pegs. I’ve done thousands this way, and it seems to work for me.


The peg-splitting & shaving tools; cleaver (riving knife) by Peter Ross; tapered reamer by Mark Atchison (for opening holes when the offset for drawboring is too severe), 2″ framing chisel.

Make a bunch of tapered pins and hammer them in one-by-one. I line it up over a hole in the bench so the pin can exit.

After assembling two sections, then knock in the angled side rails, and pin the whole thing.


Frame assembled, wants some walnut for the seat board. I have a wood-shopping trip coming up…I don’t have 11″ wide walnut around.

All the joined stool work is covered in detail in the book I did with Jennie Alexander – I have a few copies left for sale, (leave me a comment if you’d like to order one, $43 shipped in US) or get it from Lost Art Press – https://lostartpress.com/products/make-a-joint-stool-from-a-tree 


13 thoughts on “walnut joined stool assembled

  1. I have tried making pins with the Follansbee method after watching you do it on TV a bunch of times. My experience was too big – too big – too big – too small. Or curved in the middle and too big on the end. You make it look so easy. What I need is one of those giant chisels, I bet.

  2. Peter,

    A wonderful and informative posting, as usual! Great videos of the turning process. I saw that you cut the cylinders first with the gouge and then made the pommels with a skew. I did the pommels first and then wasted away the middle with a gouge. Same result. I have a motorized lathe so it really doesn’t matter the sequence, but I can see why you might have used that sequence with a pole lathe.

    One question and a comment:

    Just curious – have you seen historic examples of turned stiles or other furniture parts showing the scribed circle for centering on the ends?

    When I had to make the 24 pins to assemble my joint stool, I tried your method, I really did, but as others have mentioned, the results were over and undersized. So, I made up a ~10″ long, u-shaped planing guide to hold the riven oak pieces so I could use a scrub plane to surface and then dimension the pins square, and then a second, slightly wider opening guide to hold them to plane away the corners and make octagons. The guides were clamped to the bench top and the thickness of the guides determined the thickness of the finished pins as I could not plane deeper than the guides. Worked well, so when I needed to make lots of larger pins for my Roubo-style bench assembly, I used the same method, but with thicker and wider slots in a new pair of planing guides. No under or over sized pins. I still used your chisel method to put conical ends on the pins.


    • John – I start making the turning round so I can move the cord to a cylindrical section. The lathe then works more smoothly. As for the markings – you won’t find any on period pieces. the feet are worn away, and the tops cut off. so it’s conjecture on my part.

  3. Peter,

    Can I ask what you use the cleaver for? I recently ended up with something that looks very much like yours and had absolutely no idea what it was for. Google just kept coming up with the kitchen version no matter what I did.


  4. I have been making my pegs the same way for over 30 years…. with one exception, I leave the rest of the peg square and have never had one fail. Who ever said that you couldn’t put a square peg in a round hole?

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