3 Legged Milking Stool

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.

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I made 4 of the legs and stretchers knowing that I’d probably screw up somewhere and need an extra.

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Here’s my design. It’s kind of cross between a Windsor Chair seat and some Welsh vernacular.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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And here’s the transition to where the sitter’s legs will rest over the seat.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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