Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Adjustable height stool

When I started building my workbench, I promised myself I would avoid the complexity of any height adjusting mechanisms or bench-on-bench contraptions, instead deciding the simpler way to get close to my work was having a good place to sit. I recently decided to get a little fancy and make the stool adjustable. This was also a good opportunity to try out tapered round mortise & tenon joinery, which was extremely simple compared to the usual rectangles.
My newest workbench accessory

Construction details:

  • maple with walnut wedges. I accidentally put the wedges in the wrong direction, but fortunately nothing split)
  • tapered octagonal legs were made by laying out both ends and planing to the lines. A handscrew clamp, itself clamped to the bench, was instrumental in holding the legs after I had tapered the first two sides. A jack plane with a rank setting made short work of it.
  • I used a reamer and tenon cutter from Lee Valley
    • mortises were made by drilling and using a tapered reamer
    • tenons were made by sawing shoulders, whittling approximate tapers, then using a tenon cutter
  • the legs are arranged to sort of "windmill" around the center, because I like the way it looks. If I were to do it again, I would make them splay out more for increased stability. But what I did works OK.
  • The adjustment comes from so-called "piano stool hardware" that I found at Lee Valley. It works really smoothly (and could probably serve as good vise hardware). The overall height is quite low, raning from "I'm sitting at the workbench" down to "My eyes are peeking above the workbench surface".
  • The seat and hub were made from 8/4" maple, laid out as a circle on a board that was just wide enough for the hub. This makes the stool very stout, although a little top-heavy for my taste.
  • The seat was shaped using spokeshaves, drawknives, a jack plane, and probably a few other shaping tools I have lying around. Since the stool lives in the workshop, I'll probably shape it more as time goes on and I learn where the uncomfortable parts are (I've already gone back and done this once).
  • I finished with one coat of danish oil, which is very minimal, but looks nice and is easy to reapply after subsequent seat re-shaping.