I recently attended the Greenwood Wrights Fest 2022 and took the “Stool Making with Terry Ratliff” class where we made a Hickory Bark and Ash Stool. This was a very informative and fun class and Terry was an excellent instructor. I ended up finishing my stool at home by weaving the hickory bark seat. Thankfully, I had exactly enough bark to seat my stool ( my stool was a fair bit larger than the example stool). These are made with a very few and basic tools (Axe, Maul, Wedge, Draw knife, Shaving Horse, and sloyd knife) but the design is highly evolved.
We started by splitting and then riving out the billets for our legs. We shaped the legs with and axe and then on the shaving horse with the drawknife. You start by making a square leg a little larger that an 1 1/2″ on a side. The you make the square an octagon and your done. You make the rungs about 3/4″ from smaller stock and make the ends 11/16 round. The top rungs (where the seat is woven) you make in a wing like shape.
After getting all the pieces done, it’s time to drill the holes and assemble the frame. Finally, I wetted the hickory bark and wove the seat. Hickory bark is very supple when wet, but tough as leather when it dries. It makes a beautiful seat and only gets better with age.
In an effort to expand my experience with building larger woodworking projects, I am starting this new year making some furniture pieces. I do not want to go totally crazy, so I am starting on two Shaker end tables featured in the September 2004 Issue of Woodworking Magazine. This article goes into great detail on building this popular and timeless design. The Shaker style has an appeal to woodworkers, as it is functional, very stylish and pretty strait forward to build. I decided to build two end tables so that I could maximize my wood use and match the pair using the same wood for the whole project.
My first step was to procure a beautiful piece of cherry from the local lumber yard, Capital City Lumber, here in Raleigh. I did score a choice board 8/4″x12″x8′. This was a thing of beauty and I have to give credit to my friend, Bob, who saw this board and called it to my attention.
The next step after getting it home was board layout. In order to get the most use out of a board and avoid waste, it is important to plan the usage of each section of a board and how to cut it out . I worked this around in my head for a couple of days to avoid making a mistake on this expensive and precious lumber. This is part of any woodworking project takes time to learn and gain experience. Fortunately I have been doing board layout for some time now, so I felt confident in my layout decisions. I have done numerous projects with less expensive lumber that have really added to my knowledge and skill level.
One of the big challenges for this project is the stock thickness. It is 8/4 or roughly 2″ thick. Most of the boards called for in this project (except the legs) are 3/4″. In a conventional shop you would “re-saw” these pieces in half on a band saw and have two pieces about 7/8″ thick. My band saw is currently down for repairs so I have to do it the old fashion way, with a rip saw. That’s right the following will have to be cut in this manner: 2 tops 9×18, 2 drawer fronts 4×12 and 6 aprons or stretchers 5 1/2×13. I have about 2 full days of sawing ahead of me, but it will be worth it. Below is a picture of my rough sawn stock cut to the length and width.