Folding Camp Stool - Osage Orange and Leather

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Blog entry by grfrazee posted 09-06-2014 10:15 PM 7971 reads 9 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I read Chris Schwarz’s book Campaign Furniture when it came out and decided that I wanted to make a Folding Campaign Stool (among other things in the book). The book recommends a straight-grained, very strong wood for the Stool legs since they see a fair amount of load when sat upon.

A few months ago I contacted LJ Dan Krager about acquiring some osage orange (hedge) logs that he had harvested from his friend’s property. These logs made the trip from Dan’s place in Olney, IL to Downers Grove, IL with Dan, who was visiting family. He was kind enough to drop the logs off at my apartment while I was at work. After that, I somehow managed to manhandle the two 180-lb logs (~48” long) and two 50-lb logs (~24” long) into my Honda Civic. They fit in the back seat with about 1/4” to spare.

With my Civic about 100 lbs away from its rated capacity, I made the 70-mile trek to my parents’ house in Wisconsin. Hopefully my suspension wasn’t permanently damaged from all that :-)

The logs sat in my dad’s workshop for a month or so before I had a chance to so anything with them. My brother and I split one of the 24” logs with some axes and a 2-lb sledge. The Sideshow Bob-looking guy in the pictures following is him.

After an hour or so we got the log split down into workable wedges.

After this, my drawknife and I spent some quality time trimming the wedges down into something resembling round. Wish I had a shave horse, but my tail vise worked ok for this.

After the logs were shaved down to “round-ish,” I chucked them up in the lathe and rough turned them to about 2” x 24”.

I sealed the ends with leftover latex primer (and the rest of the splits from the log as well) and stickered them in the shop.

Next I made the templates for the leather seat and lips, as Schwarz calls them. Schwarz also has a video on laying out the seat.

After than it was a simple matter of tracing the patterns and cutting everything out. The leather is vegetable-tanned, but I forget the weight. It was about 3/16” thick.

Then I dyed the leather with a dark brown dye.

After that, I punched the holes for the rivets holding the lips to the corners. There are five per corner. After punching the rivet washers home, I nipped them off and piened them over.

The finished seat:

A month or so later, I came back home and finish-turned the legs. They’re pretty simple 1-1/8” cylinders with a turned foot.

The legs need a hole at the midpoint for the three-way bolt. This is best accomplished on the drill press with a brad-point bit and a V-cradle. Drill until the point just protrudes from the opposite side, then flip and finish the hole.

After that I re-chucked the leg in the lathe and added a couple decorating grooves near the hole. Then I finish sanded, burnished with chips, and finished with a couple coats of paste wax.

With all three legs finished I could then move onto the three-way bolt.

First I curved the washers to more closely match the curve of the legs. I couldn’t quite get them to the exact curve, but good enough.

Next I had to extend the threads of my hex bolts a bit. Putting the bolts through the legs (with the washer, very important), I made a mark with a permanent marker for where to end the threads.

Next it was a simple matter to thread the bolt with a die.

Then, using a nut as a spacer, I cut the excess off with a hacksaw and filed the end to remove the burr.

I misplaced my pictures of making the interior hex nut that creates the three-way action. Basically, you drill holes in every other face and tap them to accept the hex bolts.

With that done, I drilled the tops of the legs for the screws that hold the leather to the legs.

Since the screws I used were brass, I pre-threaded the holes with a steel screw of the same size so as to not ruin the brass screws.

Next I assembled the legs with the three-way bolt. It’s a little squirrely at this point since there’s nothing holding the legs into a regular shape.

The leather seat needed holes to accept the brass screws, so that I did with a leather punch.

All that was left to do then was to attach the lips to the tops of the legs, making sure to put a finish washer under the screw..

That’s it! I made this stool as a thank you to Dan for hand delivering those huge osage logs that he harvested. Dan, I hope you enjoy the stool for many years to come and thank you again for the logs!

Now for the finished product!

Thanks for reading!


11 comments so far

View kenn's profile


813 posts in 4934 days

#1 posted 09-06-2014 11:44 PM

Fabulous, it looks great.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3904 days

#2 posted 09-06-2014 11:56 PM

Those hedge legs will last for several lifetimes! Nice tutorial on the build.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View SteveGaskins's profile


762 posts in 3801 days

#3 posted 09-07-2014 12:26 AM

Nice. I’ve liked this since I saw it on Chris’ blog. Nice build and blog.

-- Steve, South Carolina,

View Dan Krager's profile

Dan Krager

4790 posts in 3448 days

#4 posted 09-07-2014 01:24 AM

Well documented and very clear.
I’d be interested to watch with you how much splitting and checking is prevented with the end treatments.
It’s just a neat stool and well made!

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL All my life I've wanted to be someone. I see now I should have been more specific.

View NormG's profile


6508 posts in 4218 days

#5 posted 09-07-2014 10:27 PM

Chair looks great, you did a fantastic job on this piece. Wonderful job on the leather work also, I bet this will be used or many years to come

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5619 days

#6 posted 09-08-2014 09:17 PM

This was fun to read through. I was stumped until I saw how that three way bolt worked, very ingenious, and shows a mastery of a lot of different skills. Nice work.

Osage Orange is an interesting wood. I have pulled out 100+ year old fence posts out of the ground, and the wood inside was still perfect, an amazing wood. Don’t care much for the thorns, and my last logging experience ended in a painful chip in the eye that stuck to the lower eye lid and refused to wash out easily, must be the sticky sap. Thorn pokes take a long time to heal up, again might be some type of toxin in the thorn point that makes it get infected when poked. Still, I love the wood, bright like neon green when cut, and ages to a gorgeous deep red. I have 4 huge trailer loads of Osage Orange logs, all trees in the 125 year old range, had to be removed for an electrical power line project along a road. Osage Orange was planted here in the Flint Hills as a way to build fences before Barbed Wire, and also to stop the dirt from drifting so bad in the Dirty-Thirties. Farmers are ripping it out now by the mile, getting rid of those darned “moisture users” I’m told. Glad to oblige. I’m also stunned by how dense this wood is, nothing else domestic seems to be as heavy in log form, that poor Honda back seat will never be the same.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5619 days

#7 posted 09-08-2014 09:22 PM

Nice shop and tool collection by the way.
I started to say something about splitting wood in bare feet, and decided against that, they are not my toes, so I’ll be quiet.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View grfrazee's profile


388 posts in 3353 days

#8 posted 09-09-2014 01:09 AM

Thanks for the comments, everyone.

@Mark DeCou – Sounds like you hit the jackpot with those 125 year old osage trees! I’ve heard about the thorn problem with them before, so I don’t envy you that. And, yes, splitting barefoot is pretty dumb, not doubt. Still, I spent an entire summer working barefoot in the shop with nothing worse than small cuts. Again, not saying it’s very smart, just that it can be done :-) By the way, I spent a couple months near you in Emporia, Kansas working at a local nuclear plant, too bad I didn’t know your shop was (somewhat) close by!


View Jeffery Mullen's profile

Jeffery Mullen

355 posts in 4032 days

#9 posted 09-09-2014 04:09 PM

I just couldn’t make sense of how you got the three legs together until I checked in to your tutorial . learned allot and down the road I would like to make one thanks.

-- Jeffery Mullen

View Tesla77's profile


28 posts in 3515 days

#10 posted 06-19-2015 06:34 PM

Where does one find the brass rivets?

View grfrazee's profile


388 posts in 3353 days

#11 posted 06-22-2015 01:04 PM

The rivets are copper, and I think my brother got them from Tandy Leather.


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