Here’s a few images from my most recent project: a 3-legged milking stool made of Ash and Walnut, very similar to the one I made when I took a stool making class from Fabian Fischer at FFHandcrafts in Wisconsin this past August. I wanted to try to design my own seat from scratch and come up with my own undercarriage construction. I also came across a book by the late John Brown, Welsh Stick Chairs, and while I’m not yet up to the challenge of a piece of that caliber, I wanted to meet somewhere in the middle.
The old style of Welsh furniture making is really one of complexity and understated elegance. There a simplicity to it as well, although the initial rustic appearance belies a deeper understanding of the craft. So in mixing those things together I came up with an idea and am now putting it to the test.
Here’s the initial stock, including the Walnut seat blank I glued up from 8/4 Walnut. I’m using Ash for the legs and maybe White Oak for the stretchers, maybe Walnut. I haven’t decided yet.
I made 4 of the legs and stretchers knowing that I’d probably screw up somewhere and need an extra.
Here’s my design. It’s kind of cross between a Windsor Chair seat and some Welsh vernacular.
Here’s my attempt at hand-drilling the compound angles needed for the legs-I’m using a set-up described by Peter Galbert in his most excellent book, A Chairmaker’s Notebook, from Lost Art Press.
And here I’m using a travisher to hollow out the bowl of the seat. Usually an adze would be used for this part, but I don’t have one so I set the travisher to take a thick cut and rolled up my sleeves for a workout.
And the roughed-out bowl. It’s kinda tricky getting used to grain direction but it’s really enjoyable uncovering the grain pattern, especially when it comes from two pieces glued together. I like to think this one looks a little like a spiral galaxy. Maybe I’ll name this milking stool the Milky Way…
And here’s is the bowl smoothed out with a travisher set to a very fine cut. I gotta say, this is probably the most enjoyable part, carving out the seat. It gives me the chance to try my hand at sculpture which is extraordinarily gratifying. Just you, a blade, and a relatively hard material. Symmetry is challenging here.
And here’s the transition to where the sitter’s legs will rest over the seat.
You’ll notice there’s some Oak in there by that leg mortise. Two plugs of White Oak, in fact. The first hole I drilled was too close to the edge of the seat. And the second one I drilled in the wrong direction so that the rake was directed towards the front of the chair rather than the back. That’s the reward for not paying attention.
And here’s a shot from this morning after a few hours of using the drawknife and spokeshave on the Ash blanks. Those little ribbons of wood will make for some nice kindling this winter.
And here’s the legs dry fit to the seat. It’s kind of a Fred Flintstone type of chair at this point. I now need to design the stretcher set-up to tie it all together. When all is said and done, this will go at the dining room table along with the new Shaker Meetinghouse Bench and the stool I built with Fabian in August.