REPOST: How to Turn a Shop Stool: Turning and Assembling the Legs, Spindles, and Seat

Posted: January 11, 2013 in Uncategorized
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This feature was contributed by Ernie Conover and provides instructions on how to properly assemble a wooden shop stool. The full article can be read at

Through turning you can create unique stretchers and a nice footrest for your shop stool.
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Palmer Sharpless, a fondly remembered fellow founding member of the American Association of Woodturners, showed this nifty project to me. He originally designed it for the right height and comfort while filing saws, and I still have one of his originals in front of my saw filing vise. It is a standard project in my weeklong turning classes because it teaches so many things. Accurate layout and simple faceplate turning are required to make the seat. Turning of relatively lengthy 27″-long spindles for the legs teaches how to deal with vibration in long work, duplication of pieces and how to accurately size tenon for attachment to the seat. One, or all, of the stretchers can be turned in two axes to allow them to double as a nifty footrest. The drilling scheme to gain maximum strength from the legs and stretchers teaches wood technology. The project is also well within the capacity of most lathes.


Woodturning offers the opportunity to create unique tenons and stretchers for a serviceable wood stool.
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The stool can be turned out of most any wood and can make good use of cutoffs from other woodworking projects. Contrasting woods give the stool a more modern custom look, while like-colored woods make it unobtrusive.

All sizes in the cutting list are dimensions that have worked well over the years, both in terms of lathe capacity and functionality of the finished stool. The height is excellent at a kitchen counter for reading recipes or making shopping lists. Do not be afraid to make the stool taller or shorter to suit your needs. While the seat and legs can be cut before commencing work, the stretchers are best cut and turned after you have a dry assembly and can make actual measurements. The length can vary quite a bit because, unless the hole is drilled on an exact radius of the 4″ diameter layout circle, the distance will not be equal. In practice, no matter how careful the drilling, there is up to 1″ difference in stretcher lengths. The 17″ dimension I have given is significantly longer than normally needed.

For nearly three decades, Laguna Tools has been a premier provider of high-class woodworking machinery. This website provides more information about the company.

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