Windsor style stool - pine

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Project by woodsyman posted 06-27-2013 07:43 PM 2491 views 2 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My curiosity paved the way for this project. I started reading and studying windsor chair building techniques found throughout the internet year ago or so. As I learned more, I realized that the techniques and principles used in the style of windsor chair building are simple and elegant, which make these chairs beautiful, strong, and long-lasting, all traits that I seek in my work. That doesn’t mean that building a stool like this came easy. The list of things I had to learn from scratch were plentiful on this project. Production turning on the legs was new to me. I’d turned bowls and other round objects in the past but no furniture legs. I learned to complete excellent bevel riding cuts with the skew and gouge, to the point that no sanding was required. The legs are joined together to the seat and stretchers to the legs by means of tapered mortise and tenons with wedges driven to hold. The through side of these joints was relieved to allow for expansion when the wedge was driven, also creating a lock, hence no glue required. Tapered tenons are fairly easy to complete using some measurements on the lathe. But the tapered holes that the tenons mate up with are not an easy task to complete. For one, you have to get your hands on a tapered reamer. I did not have one. So I chose to build one using one of the designs found online, I believe Peter Galbert had a good bit of information on his blog ( also, John Alexander’s green woodworking site ( on how to create on of these. Building a tool is an exercise I enjoy and one which builds your skills as a woodworker as well, so I did not hesitate at the opportunity to push my limits. Everything went well on the first attempt and I was reaming tapered holes in no time. Boring the proper angled holes in the legs and seat was one of the more challenging tasks on this project. Getting the holes out of alignment is a sure recipe for disaster. Extra care was given to the holes.
I glued up the seat from a couple of cedar 2×8’s I had laying around. This stool was intended not only as a learning experience but as a shop stool, so I wasn’t too worried about having the nicest materials on it (I know, I know next time it will be maple). I don’t have all of the carving tools required to complete the seat by hand. So I resorted to my angle grinder and sanding head to complete the final shaping of the seat. Eventually, when I have to build 5 barstools for the house I’ll change materials and I’ll try to have purchased all the proper seat shaping tools ie; adze, scorp, travishers, etc.
After the seat was carved and the legs/stretchers were nicely fit, it was time to add the reversed taper at the short end of the tapered holes to allow room for expansion after the wedges were driven. Care was given to orienting the slot for the wedge in their tenons as well as how the wedge was driven according to the grain of the mortised piece. Complete this task out of balance with the grain and you would be liable to split your seat at the tapered holes. I’ve yet to apply a finish to this project, not sure I really want to. If any finish is applied it will probably just be a simple coat of boiled linseed oil to match my workbench.
All in all, this was very engaging project to take on with no other chair building experience to fall back on. I hope to make a lot more pieces using these techniques in the future. Mechanically speaking, this is one of the strongest constructions I’ve ever built. Thanks.

-- Peace be with you!

7 comments so far

View b2rtch's profile


4921 posts in 4060 days

#1 posted 06-27-2013 08:04 PM

This is beautiful work and your talent is great.
Thank you for the description of the work.
I am now tempted to make one .

-- Bert

View woodsyman's profile


31 posts in 2889 days

#2 posted 06-27-2013 08:39 PM

For those interested, here is another great channel to help in your quest to build in the windsor chair style.
Curtis Buchanan’s youtube channel is by far one of my favorite channels, not to mention one of the most informative channels a woodworker can find on youtube. Check it out!

-- Peace be with you!

View Caleb James's profile

Caleb James

149 posts in 3941 days

#3 posted 06-27-2013 10:04 PM


I make windsor furniture as well. Just wanted to say that a good inshave and travisher goes a long way to getting the work done on the seat carving. An adze is not a must if you don’t want to buy tools not absolutely necessary to start with. If you know how to bend and temper O1 tool steel then making a travisher is not to tuff.

Keep it up!


View bondogaposis's profile


5953 posts in 3363 days

#4 posted 06-27-2013 10:08 PM

Nice, some really great information here. Thanks for posting.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View scrollsaw's profile


13030 posts in 4865 days

#5 posted 06-28-2013 05:11 AM

Great work.

-- Todd

View tomd's profile


2222 posts in 4782 days

#6 posted 06-28-2013 05:30 AM

Very nice work stool, quite good for a first time. If you get a chance, try to read Michael Dunbar’s book Winsor Chairs it’s an excellent source for turning Winsor type chairs.

-- Tom D

View Caleb James's profile

Caleb James

149 posts in 3941 days

#7 posted 06-28-2013 10:48 AM

I really wish I could recommend Dunbar’s book but it is just not a great reference. It was the first of its kind so it seems to have more followers than I think it deserves.

For a practical guide, currently, the best is probably The Chairmaker’s Workshop by Drew Langsner. It is packed full of useful material that you can use to make a variety of windsor chairs from.

Everyone interested in windsor chairs should be on the look out for Peter Galberts book that he will be publishing. His blog is top notch. The best on the subject. You could pretty much learn to make a chair from just reading it.


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