About 20 years ago I saw one of these three-legged stools at a client’s home. I was drawn to its simplicity, but at the same time the complexity of its joinery. I made up my mind right then that I would build one in the future.
It wasn’t until about 12 years later that I set aside the time and figured out the method for building one. I’ve now built eight of these, and I’ve taught workshops at local colleges and at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking, where I’m slated to teach again in the Summer of 2019 during a weekend workshop. I would estimate that over 60 of these stools have been built by students of mine.
I’ve built the stools a few different ways, including 100 percent hand tools, a blend of machine and hand tools, or all machine work. They are enjoyable to build regardless of the approach taken. They are also attractive and very useful in the home or shop.
Here are a few photos of the stools, including an original from the 19th Century, several of my reproductions, and artistic sculptures by the artist Ai Weiwei.
Original 19th Century, three-legged Chinese stool, similar to the one I saw at a client’s home 20 years ago. You can see that it has withstood the test of time extremely well.
Here are three stools I recently finished. The one on the left is made out of walnut and the other two are out of cherry. You’ll notice the center stool has a slightly different joint. It is a three-way lap joint.
Here are the two stretcher joints, side-by-side. The walnut wood joint on the left is a three-way mortise and tenon joint. The cherry wood joint on the right is a three-way lap joint. Both add interest and strength to the stool.
You can see in this close up of the walnut stool how you can have fun trying different woods and nice grain patterns for the top of the stool.
Here is the three-way lap joint from below.
I like this stool sculpture by artist Ai Weiwei. He’s done several of these sculptures.
Here is another stool sculpture by Ai Weiwei. I love thinking about both the skill of the artist and the skill of the artisans who built these stools.