Footstools #3: Looking for some advice

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Blog entry by Mark Gipson posted 03-06-2009 02:40 PM 1119 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: First stool finished! Part 3 of Footstools series Part 4: Progressing nicely »

Salon footstool #2 is well under way and I am looking for some advice from fellow lumberjocks. As I mentioned in my previous blog entries I am using these footstools to try and learn a little about woodworking and try some different techniques on each one.

For this stool I decided to make templates for the curves on the legs and stretcher. I cut a template from plywood after using Sketchup to make a paper template that was printed at actual size. I rough cut with the jigsaw and then used my new flush trim router bit to tidy it all up. This went OK, I found that Thai made double sided sticky tape just isn’t very sticky at all and had a scary moment when the template started to follow the router. Despite this minor worry I found this method much quicker and easier than making the first stool just by jigsaw and rasp.

On the first stool the stretcher was simply butt jointed to the top and legs, dropped into place with some glue and then I drove 2 screws through each leg into the stretcher. This time around I wanted to try my hand at cutting a mortise in the leg for the stretcher to fit into. I wasn’t going to try cutting a through mortise or cutting shoulders on the stretcher as I was expecting it to look butt ugly, but after I finished cutting the mortise it actually looked pretty good. I’m using the past tense here because today I went too far with the roundover bit on the stretcher and rounded the nice square end that fitted perfectly into the nice square mortise, oh well, another lesson learned there.

Mortise cut with router and chisel

Fit before the roundover incident

The legs fit into dados cut into the top but this time the dados are a nicer fit than stool #1. The stretcher and legs need tapping with the mallet to get a nice snug fit, I’m well pleased even though the roundover incident spoils things if you look closely (no picture included :-)

I am unsure if the stretcher fitting into the mortise will provide enough strength in the joint. The mortise is 1/3rd the depth of the leg. Will this be enough or should I still drive one or two screws through the leg into the stretcher? I’m trying to work my way towards not using any screws by the final stool, stool #3 will hopefully have a through M&T joint for the stretcher.

Nice tight fit, needs a gentle tap with the hammer

6 comments so far

View kiwi1969's profile


608 posts in 4217 days

#1 posted 03-06-2009 02:49 PM

If you attach the top to the stretcher as well as the leg then it should be ok. The through mortise and tenon with wedges will be even better.

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View gizmodyne's profile


1784 posts in 4865 days

#2 posted 03-06-2009 04:17 PM

Do you have the entire stretcher end in the mortise?

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View Mark Gipson's profile

Mark Gipson

189 posts in 4155 days

#3 posted 03-06-2009 04:44 PM

Yeah I put the entire stretcher end in the mortise and didn’t cut any shoulders. I am trying to keep the number of new things I try to a minimum on each project so I don’t get too frustrated and can still get the project completed.

View Mark Gipson's profile

Mark Gipson

189 posts in 4155 days

#4 posted 03-06-2009 06:26 PM

Thinking about it more I will put a screw through the leg into the stretcher. The mortise I cut isn’t really deep enough to be called a mortise and will need re-enforcement. It was good practice though at cutting a ‘mortise’ in the right place and still getting everything to fit. Stool 3 is going to have a real through mortise and tenon for the stretcher.

View a1Jim's profile


118066 posts in 4352 days

#5 posted 03-08-2009 02:46 AM

Good Job Mark
So many people want to watch Norm make things but never go out in the shop them self It’s great your trying different alternatives and there execution. another alternative would be a stopped sliding dovetail for your center stretcher and dual mortise and tenons with wedges or loose tenon joinery. Don’t fell like you have to only practice on a project you can use scraps of wood to practice on and after a few attempts on scraps then go to your stool and apply what you’ve learned. One of the best books on joinery and more than one way to make each joint is “joinery” taunton press by Gary Rogowski.


View Mark Gipson's profile

Mark Gipson

189 posts in 4155 days

#6 posted 03-09-2009 05:03 AM

Thanks a1Jim, I like the sound of sliding dovetails and wedged mortise and tenons, that seems like a good thing to aim for on stool number 5. I do a little bit of practise on scrap first but at the same time I don’t want to spend months perfecting my joints without actually making the stools :-) I’ve been promising the boss some new stools for a while now.

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