Sgabello di Fossacesia #4: A Seat with Some Curves

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Blog entry by Woodbridge posted 08-20-2014 09:48 PM 2313 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Stop Dreaming – Start Working! Part 4 of Sgabello di Fossacesia series Part 5: Creating the marquetry panel – version 1 »

The Italian 16th century Sgabello had a flat seat. They were used as hallway chairs. If the patron of the house wanted you to stay you were invited in. If not, they didn’t want you to get too comfortable and stay too long.

For my version of the Sgabello I decided to go with a classic Italian mid-century modern look . My seat would have some curves to it.

The olivewood seat is made from two pieces about 9 inches wide and 18 inches long. The boards were about 1.75 inches thick.

The two pieces had some twist to them so I flattened them with a hand plane and jointed the other edge square. I drilled ½ dowels into each half primarily to ensure alignment when gluing up.
Each half was cut to final width (8.5 inches).

The olive wood gives off a very nice olive scent when it is being worked.

Prior to shaping, I cut the seat portion of the Maloof joint.

I also located and drilled the two angled holes for the front legs. Using a tapered reamer I shaped the holes to fit the tapered tenons on the front legs.

I had a general idea of the shape of the seat I was looking for and marked it on the blank with a sharpie. I drilled some depth holes: ¾” at the back, ½ “ in the centre and about ¼” in the front. I wanted to leave enough meat on the seat and also did not want to grind into the dowels (been there done that!)

The seat was shaped used a grinder and kutzall carving disc wheel followed by 40 grit grinding disk then my random orbital sander. Beyond the general shape outlined by the Sharpie the shaping was done by eye and feel. I was looking for pleasing (to my eye) shape.

I was really pleased with the figure of the olive wood. It really popped when I rubbed the seat with some paint thinner. I’m looking forward to putting a finish on it.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

12 comments so far

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3910 days

#1 posted 08-20-2014 10:03 PM

a very interesting project, and i love this wood of choice, olive wood has always caught my eye, and i know you will do this project justice…can’t wait to see this one…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View shipwright's profile


8453 posts in 3405 days

#2 posted 08-21-2014 12:05 AM

Beautiful figure. The olive wood looks nice too.
Sorry, but somebody was going to say it.
This is going to be gorgeous and I’m sure Ms. Loren would find it a very comfortable place to sit.
Any worry I had previously about the strength of the back joint is gone now. It’s much to pretty for anyone to actually sit on.

Superb work!

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View DocSavage45's profile


8882 posts in 3449 days

#3 posted 08-21-2014 02:00 AM

LOL! Hope your chair ages as well as Sophia did! Your doing your family proud sir!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View George Coles's profile

George Coles

188 posts in 3052 days

#4 posted 08-21-2014 02:11 AM

That Olive wood really makes it. Looking great and cant wait to see The finished product.

-- George Coles,

View Woodbridge's profile


3710 posts in 3025 days

#5 posted 08-21-2014 03:04 AM

thanks once again for reading and your comments.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View johnhutchinson's profile


1243 posts in 2236 days

#6 posted 08-21-2014 02:45 PM


Love it !!!

The only think that I would have changed is the color of the seat. I like the olive theme so much that I would have applied a subtle green dye followed by a clear topcoat.

But hey, that’s just me. :)

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

View Woodbridge's profile


3710 posts in 3025 days

#7 posted 08-21-2014 03:26 PM

Hi John, it not too late to colour the seat. I only applied some paint thinner to highlight the figure and have not yet put any finish on the chair. In fact I’m still thinking about what to do. The oar itself is a pretty bland white oak. Do I try to match the colour. leave the whole thing natural and just put on a oil/varnish mix, etc. You have given me an interesting suggestion and one that I would not have thought of. Thanks.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View johnhutchinson's profile


1243 posts in 2236 days

#8 posted 08-21-2014 03:35 PM

Nothing wrong with an ‘art’ finish on an ‘art’ chair. It’s too bad that woodworkers in general are afraid to experiment with colors other than shades of brown. Maybe it’s not ‘manly’. :)

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 3941 days

#9 posted 08-21-2014 05:13 PM

I love the wavy grain of olive wood. However you finish it with I think it will look great. Your chair (what we can see of it, looks wonderful. I look forward to seeing the whole thing when you post it as a project. Very nice work on this.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View oldnovice's profile


7517 posts in 3974 days

#10 posted 08-21-2014 11:52 PM

The question is, does she fit? If not, send her to me and keep the beautiful chair for yourself … that, to me, is exceptional work with outstanding wood, work, and appearance!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View kiefer's profile


5713 posts in 3274 days

#11 posted 08-22-2014 01:22 PM

I see the model is a great inspiration .
Now that I see the colour combination I have second thoughts but maybe a little experimenting with staining the legs ,perhaps a darker stain would work to give some contrast .
The seat turned out exceptional and once the back leg joint is finished everything should flow together.


-- Kiefer

View johnhutchinson's profile


1243 posts in 2236 days

#12 posted 08-22-2014 01:46 PM

Just remember that there’s nothing wrong with a little color in an accent chair.

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

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