Three Legged

The seat of my camp stool has been done for some time and needing legs. Three legs. As such, I spent an inordinate amount of time making three different legs because I wanted to see what I could do without a lathe. This was something of a blank space in the internet. No clear directions on how to hand carve curves that taper in and out. Or end abruptly in the middle of the piece.

Legs in pine, sapele, and oak

Three legs – tapered and rounded sapele in the middle; rounded and tapered down then back out on the right in oak; and a rounded leg tapering to the flat top of a rounded foot in pine.

I didn’t bother keeping track of how I went about the rounded taper. I forgot with the taper in-and-out in oak.

So, on with the pine leg that tapers down to a flat topped foot. image-17

The process was draw lines, taper, draw more lines (as shown in this post on cabriole legs), chamfer and then round. I used a combination of chisel, plane, and rasps.

Initially  I’d set out some guide lines using a method for drawing an octagon from Chris Schwarz as seen here. Also, finding the centre at both the top and bottom and using a compass to draw circles provides other reference points.



The foot was a completely experimental. It rounds horizontally and vertically. Basically whittling a ball. Finally I sawed the bottom off to flatten it and arrived roughly at the point I had intended. image-21




Functionally useless

Immediately defunct is not something I try for. But, that’s what I got today.


I made this 3′ straight edge on Monday. Chosen from a kiln-dried board of jequitiba that sat in my workshop for months. I had eyed it for a few things, and each time I’ve checked to make sure it was flat.

I should have listened to the voice in my head (voice, not voices) when, as I was planing it to size,  it bowed on me. However, my indomitable spirit persevered. Or I was thickheaded. With no little amount of effort, I re-flattened it. And checked it as I went. Seemed ok.

Two coats of oil and two days later I checked it. Way not flat. It bowed, again.

Now I have a shiny curved stick.

Camp stool seat

Just a few pics of the seat I made for the camp stool from Chris Schwarz’s Campaign Furniture.

One thing to point out, Chris mentions that quick rivets can be used instead of brass rivets. I was tempted into that, especially since they are a lot cheaper. There’s a reason. They are thin, flimsy, hard to set right and, for a 6’1″ 200 lb meat bag like me, they don’t inspire confidence.

I got fed up with them and ordered brass rivets. Much different, much better. Thicker, easy to set, appear like they’ll hold up, and more importantly, hold me up.

Cutting the leather out goes pretty quickly once you have the templates. I was going to post some pictures of the veg tan leather cut outs. Little too reminiscent of Silence of the Lambs.

Templates and veg tan leather.


Dyed leather with first corner done up.


The seat all riveted. It needs a bit of cleaning up around the edges and burnishing, but otherwise good to go. With a punch set, dividers, and rivets the whole seat took about half an hour to put together.


PS Book Case

The bookcase is done except for final clean up and a coat of paint. This is going into my daughter’s room, which needs some color – thinking light blue. This was done entirely, step for step, off of Paul Seller’s design from his Working Wood: The Artisan Course book/DVD. As such, I’m not going to get into details of how it was done.

Starting point - big boards
Starting point – big boards
Step 2 - Smaller boards
Step 2 – Smaller boards
Step 3 - Boards with holes and stuff
Step 3 – Boards with holes and stuff

Hotwash-light on the bookcase:

  • Need to improve QC throughout. Too many dings, dents and scratches on boards. Doesn’t help that the jequitiba I used has a fair amount of reversing grain and water/sweat spots oxidise. All avoidable with a modicum of care.
  • I might try purposely undersizing the dadoes and then shaving edges to get a fit to eliminate some of the trial and error.
  • Leave well enough alone. I find myself cleaning up edges and faces after I’ve prepped the stock, which gets things out of square, out of parallel and matching size.
  • Make every cut with the same level of attention. Mid-project blahs made me speed through some important cuts resulting in gaps. Should’ve backed off, warmed up and gone at them slowly and carefully.
  • Otherwise I was happy with the results. First 10 dadoes I’ve cut, first mortises and tenons. Not perfect, but considerable learning experience. Paul Seller’s book/DVD combo is great for someone new to hand tools like me. A thorough level of detailed instruction that I feel makes it possible to go out and replicate the techniques.

Record 44 – Quiet Saturday

Cleaning up the new (to me) Record 44. Just got this from Patrick Leach, one of the few people I like giving money to.


Must be a symptom of terminal adulthood when I look forward to cleaning up tools while watching the kiddo play in the yard.

What is flat? (More boards!)

What is flat? Seriously.

Since I’ve been making a lot of boards recently with the hope of one day making something out of them, that question has stuck in the back of my head.

I have an answer, but my going about it to get to what I consider flat took me 80 minutes the other day. For a 2 foot board, 6 inches thick, taking about 5/16″ off of it. I have no idea where that time puts me on the track, but my guess is towards the back of the pack.

So I went  and did some reading. Ever notice how many woodworkers-cum-instructors say things like “flatten a board, then check it with a straight edge.” Check for what? That one edge of the straight edge isn’t floating a 1/4 inch off above one end and flat on the other? Or that you’ve created a flat surface so perfect no light can get through. A flatness so complete that it pulls light in like a black hole. I fell into that black hole.

Finally I watched an hour-long video on Paul Seller’s Woodworking Masterclasses. God. Bless. Him. It’s an excellent overview, and it made me realise how completely anal retentive I’ve been and how entirely unnecessary that is. Yes, I’m aware that watching someone with his level of craft can be deceiving – the difficult looks so simple! But with only winding sticks and a square he prepped wood for a project from rough lumber.

I’d been looking at everything too closely. Checking too often, trying to get rid of every single mm of imperfection.

Today I had to prep some more pieces. With the Paul Seller’s attitude in mind I spent a lot less time getting a board to very flat and very square. I think I saved 20 minutes alone in not incessantly checking it with a straight edge and square. Seriously.

Stop. Just stop.

Just stop. Walk away. Put down the tools, grab a broom. Put down the tools.

I am in the mid-project doldrums. I can seek all the f**kups, but I can also see it coming together.

Today I was clearly thinking about something else. Because I transferred the lines from the sides of the book case to the top piece. Then added the other lines for the dados on the wrong side. You’d think that would have made me pay more attention.

And then I got through the first few layers of one dado and realised it was off. Way off. As in the board is toast and I’ll need to make a new one tomorrow.

It was at that point that I put the tools down. Wiped everything down. Moved everything to sweep. Reorganized my collection of “maybe these will be useful someday” waste cuts.