Campaigning for completed stools

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Shellacked, waxed, and ready for drilling.

I don’t often have two projects on the bench at the same time – I find it easier to concentrate on seeing a build all the way through to completion before thinking about the next project. That being said, moving between the Campaign Stools and the Apprentice’s Stick Chair has been straight forward, and allowed me to continue to get productive bench time during natural breaks in each project. Yesterday I finished the campaign stools, so over the next couple of weeks I will be able to focus solely on the Aprentice’s Stick Chair.

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A simple cradle holds the legs in position when drilling.

On Tuesday the tribolts arrived for the campaign stools, which meant I was now in a position to complete that project (with the exception of ordering another pair of leather seats from Jason). Chris’ book suggests that you apply your finish of choice before drilling holes for the hardware, presumably to avoid clogging the holes with traces of finish. The ash and maple legs each received two coats of a 2lb cut of blonde shellac, while the sapele legs had a 2lb cut of garnet shellac, all of which were applied with a rubber. After leaving the shellac for several days to harden I lightly rubbed the legs down with 320 grit abranet to de-nib it and get a smooth texture. The ash and sapele legs were then treated with a coat of Liberon “Tudor Oak” Black Bison wax, while the maple legs had a coat of Osmo. These are my favourite finishes for those specifes of wood – the black wax enhances the grain and character of porous wood, and stops the garnet shellac in particular from becoming too orange. For lighter tones timber such as the ash and maple, the blonde shellac adds a gentle lustre and enhancement of character but without yellowing the paler colour of the wood. Both colours of shellac were mixed using Tiger Flakes from Tools for Working Wood.

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Positioning the leg before drilling – when the story stick and the laser lines up, you’re good to go

After the wax had been buffed out it was time to drill the holes. Cylindrical workpieces can be difficult to hold in place, so I first made a simple cradle by drilling a 1 1/4″ diameter hole through some scrap sapele, and then cutting the scrap in half on the band saw, giving a semi-circular cradle the same diameter as the legs. This supported the workpiece and made positioning it on the drill press very easy. All of the hardware holes need to be in exactly the same position on each leg, so instead of measuring the location I used my story stick to ensure that I was drilling in the right place. Lining up the leg and story stick with the lasers of the drill press identified the location which needed to be drilled, and sighting down the length of the leg while the drill bit was lowered verified that the drill bit was passing through the very centre of the leg and not off to the side. I then drilled each leg, stopping once the tip of the spur had broken through to the other side of the leg, and flipping the leg over to drill from the return side, to avoid any ragged exit holes.

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Drilling the traditional way

The leather seat is attached to the legs by way of a 35mm long No10 screw through the end of each leg. While the holes for the tribolts successfully drilled, I then placed each leg in the vise and drilled the pilot hole for the screws, using my gandfather’s old egg beater drill, and following the mark left by the lathe’s drive centre. All three sets of legs were then fitted with the tribolts.

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The Apprentice loved sitting on the completed stool

Although I had originally planned to use the burgandy leather seat with the sapele legs, the combination of ash and burgandy leather was too good to resist, so I assembled the ash stool, and took it out to the garden for some rigorous testing. The Apprentice loved the stool, and it’s a good job I made enough legs for three stools as I doubt I’ll be getting this one back any time soon! When I did manage to evict her from the stool, I found it very comfortable and a pleasant height for garden lounging. So, soon I will order a pair of seats from Jason to finish off the other two stools – tan leather for the sapele legs and black leather for the maple. Having a couple of campaign stools to hand will be perfect for enjoying good weather in our garden, especially when we have guests. This project has been a lot of fun, and making a set of matching Roorkee chairs is definitely on my to do list!

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One completed campaign stool in ash and burgandy leather

2 thoughts on “Campaigning for completed stools

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