The Stool Projects #4

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Project by OutPutter posted 10-01-2007 05:56 AM 3249 views 3 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This one is the latest in a what turns out to have been a series of four stools I designed. This one was inspired by a sunny day and extra wood scraps from a raised bed garden for my wife. We also love to garden. We have both been looking at the woodworking shows available on TV like Norm and David. Finally the mystique of the dovetail joint caught up with us. I’ve been able to do a lot more reading recently and I’ve fallen even more in love with the beauty of a dovetail joint. Hand cut, machine cut, template cut, center cut, or what have you… I love them all.

So, that Saturday I laid out the tails and pins or was it the pins then the tails? I can’t remember now. Anyway, we cut them with the jig saw (new blades too). We took turns holding down the wood while the other one cut. We’re going to get some clamps soon. ;-) If my memory serves me, it took several hours of shop time over more than one Saturday to do all the cutting.

When we got close to finished except for a little clean up, I got impatient and dry fit it with a hammer. Well, it fit so good, I just left it like you see it above. If we can work a new router bit into the budget, I think the joint is large enough to cut without a template and I may take a stab at cleaning it up. But, since I don’t have any equipment to take the bow out of the wood, I don’t think that will improve the fit much. I’ve got no finish on this stool but I hope it will darken like the others in this series. I can vouch for the strength of the joint because even without glue or nails it has just this day survived a fall of four feet onto concrete and didn’t budge a bit.

Anyway, this project has already served as inspiration in other ways for us. After we marveled at how we felt a sense of accomplishment out of such an uglyjoint, we couldn’t help ourselves. We bought a real Japanese type dovetail saw for around $30 US. Our next project is a small box. We have some high end oak from the local Home Despot we intend to convert into four sides connected by dovetails. Hmmmm… can’t wait…..

Thanks for your time,

-- Jim

15 comments so far

View snowdog's profile


1181 posts in 5195 days

#1 posted 10-01-2007 01:55 PM

I enjoyed reading your progress. isn’t it great when you and your wife can work together? It makes it much more fun to share in the creation and then the final product.

-- "so much to learn and so little time"..

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5373 days

#2 posted 10-01-2007 02:44 PM

I love this stool—I love the “chunkiness” feel to it.
You are inspiring: side by side partnership; handcut dovetails; the sense of pride… and the excitement of what comes next!! Awesome

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Proclamator's profile


42 posts in 5109 days

#3 posted 10-01-2007 03:12 PM

Jim, This is one stool I wouldn’t be afraid to personally use in my shop. Great job, super functional, and another woodworking technique tried.

-- Dave Idaho

View mot's profile


4928 posts in 5249 days

#4 posted 10-01-2007 03:53 PM

A dovetail away keeps the woodworking blues away! I’ve made much uglier joints than that. That’s a terrific effort. It sounds to me like you might want to get some chisel. If you google “scary sharp,” you’ll find lots of articles on using fine grit sandpapers to sharpen them. Even the most pedestrian chisels do a great job of cleanup on hardwoods…if they are sharp. This is a great start and it was good to read that you guys did it together.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5431 days

#5 posted 10-01-2007 07:32 PM

I’ve been putting off trying to master hand-cut dovetails. Maybe this will inspire me to give it a go!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View mot's profile


4928 posts in 5249 days

#6 posted 10-01-2007 08:08 PM

LOL..I was just re-reading this post… A dovetail a day keeps the blues away….Charlie…go for it, it brings a feeling of humbleness and satisfaction all in one.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View OutPutter's profile


1199 posts in 5203 days

#7 posted 10-01-2007 08:09 PM

snowdog – I think my wife has put a spell on me or something because the longer we’re together, the more we enjoy being together. Making our first woodworking project together was even better than I could have guessed.

MsDebbieP – You really took to heart the addage “If you can’t say something nice…” I don’t know how you do that but thanks again for being so encouraging.

Dave – Thanks for the kind words.

Tom – The medicinal powers of dovetails have been well documented. I did run across the “scary sharp” method and have tried it on the chisels I’ve had since childhood. Unfortunately, I have used them for steel carving or something over the years. The chinks were just too big to overcome. I did get some of the metal a lot sharper than it’s been in a very long time though. That experience did lead me to put down $30 US for a set of Sears chisels. I haven’t had the opportunity to use them on our “box” project yet but, I will.

Thanks again,

-- Jim

View cajunpen's profile


14578 posts in 5278 days

#8 posted 10-01-2007 08:44 PM

Jim I can’t wait until you guys get some tools in your shop – the work should be outstanding. I really like your garden bench and the story.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View clieb91's profile


4264 posts in 5147 days

#9 posted 10-02-2007 03:51 PM

Jim, All the stools look great. I am just starting out with projects myself. Keep it up and look forward to seeing projects in the future.
As to working together it is a great feeling, isn’t it? My wife loves to paint and do some other crafty things so we look forward to me building and her putting the finishing touches on a project. Hope to post the shelves for my daughter’s room soon :).

-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 5389 days

#10 posted 10-03-2007 08:40 AM

There’s just something about this stool – ever so basic, yet complex due to the joinery. Yes, I can see that in my shop. I’ve kept my first (successful) hand cut dovetail in my shop for the past four years – I often look at it and remember the thrill I felt when making it.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View OutPutter's profile


1199 posts in 5203 days

#11 posted 10-06-2007 03:25 AM

Chris – I think one sign of a healthy family is that they do things they like to do together. I’ll be looking for that project of yours soon.

Bill – Thanks for the encouragement. We hope to add a table saw as soon as we can find a good used one. From there I’m thinking we need a good plane or two and then … who knows?

Don – Susan and I are hoping that some day we can turn out a good box that will last a good long time but show the complex and the basic at the same time. Some of your boxes have given us inspiration so your comments are well received. Thanks.

-- Jim

View Karson's profile


35278 posts in 5613 days

#12 posted 10-11-2007 05:33 AM

Jim Congratulations on your stool. A decision was made to make one, And gosh-dang-it it was made. Be it ever so humble it was made by your own 4 hands and all 20 digits are still intack.

Congratulations and good luck on your search for new/used tools.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View OutPutter's profile


1199 posts in 5203 days

#13 posted 10-11-2007 10:11 PM

Thanks Karson for the encouragement.

-- Jim

View Skinna's profile


40 posts in 5149 days

#14 posted 05-10-2010 12:45 AM

I’d be interested to know approx measurements for this stool… not that I want to build one, just that it appears to be quite large, and the dovetails appear to be quite large also, and if I’m correct and this is quite large-ish, I was wondering if the dovetails became any simpler to create being larger, rather than smaller ones that we see used every day in drawers and boxes etc

-- Skinna - Australia... I won't stop at murder if that's what is necessary to get the job done

View OutPutter's profile


1199 posts in 5203 days

#15 posted 05-11-2010 05:12 AM

Hi Skinna. It stands about 12” high and is about 20” long. At the time, the dovetails were hard to do. In hindsight, I can tell you that the larger ones are less difficult because you can leave larger amounts that need to be fine tuned during fitting. Smaller ones don’t allow much for fine tuning. Almost three years later I can report that the joints are still holding up even though it has been outside in the garage in Houston heat and occasional cold. I sometimes look at it and think I should clean up the joint and try to make it better but then I decide to let it be a road marker of a simpler time.


-- Jim

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