17th Century Joint Stool

  • Advertise with us
Project by BillG posted 01-02-2014 05:46 PM 3534 views 3 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was inspired on a trip to Plymouth, MA when we visited Plymouth Plantation, a 17th century re-creation of the original settlement. Everything that exists here is done in the style of the late 1600’s using tools and craftsmanship of the period. Peter Follansbee is the joyner in the community and builds furniture from riven (split) log sections to create boards to build furniture from.

I have been working hard to improve my hand tool skills and saw an opportunity for a project at home. Peter Follansbee and Jennie Anderson wrote a book on building a joint stool from a tree. After purchasing the book, I began the process of preparing to build the stool. fortunately, a large oak was taken dow just up the street from where I live. I contacted the owner and procured a piece of the tree 36” long and 33” in diameter.

This was a heavy chunk of wood and gave me a good work-out to split and rive out the necessary sized pieces. Riving wood splits it radially and provides the best ray-fleck to be found in quarter saw wood. Next came further chopping and splitting to eliminate the sap wood and the juvenile wood at the center of the tree. Now it was time for my next work-out, planing the slabs and making boards. This took a couple of days. I stickered the boards and gave them about four to five weeks to dry a bit. Ideally, I would have access to a pole lathe to turn the legs, but I do have an old Delta lathe and compromised here to turn the legs. The rest of the project was done by hand. The stool has mortise and tenon joints and does not use glue to hold it together, rather,it is pegged using the draw bore technique which did an excellent job of pulling all the joints tight.

This was a very rewarding project that challenged me on several fronts. I learned much and I am sure my new skills will inform my work on future projects.

-- Bill G - West Springfield, MA

17 comments so far

View Scott R. Turner's profile

Scott R. Turner

276 posts in 4203 days

#1 posted 01-02-2014 05:56 PM

Wonderful work. It’s satisfying to go from tree to finished work!

View chrisstef's profile


18129 posts in 4021 days

#2 posted 01-02-2014 05:58 PM

I had hoped that this was a Follansbee build. Ive been watching his appearances on Roy’s show recently and his style of work is really cool to watch and learn from. Great build, very period.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View GerardoArg1's profile


1014 posts in 3009 days

#3 posted 01-02-2014 06:32 PM

Awesome!. Like a lot the tradicional work. Congratulations.

-- Disfruta tu trabajo (enjoy your work) (Bandera, Argentina)

View CampD's profile


1818 posts in 4501 days

#4 posted 01-02-2014 07:07 PM

Nicely done.
Its a lot of fun building this way.

-- Doug...

View mcoyfrog's profile


4757 posts in 4609 days

#5 posted 01-02-2014 07:16 PM

Crickey thats a lot of work. Props to you, very well done.

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3705 days

#6 posted 01-03-2014 01:47 AM

VERY impressive build! And you definitely win the “labor intensive project of the week” award.

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

View NormG's profile


6508 posts in 4019 days

#7 posted 01-03-2014 01:48 AM

Very nicely done

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

View Core2's profile


62 posts in 2620 days

#8 posted 01-03-2014 05:35 AM

Great project! I will be helping collect some firewood this weekend. I will have to take a slab from a tree to experiment with. Thanks for the inspiration.

View Core2's profile


62 posts in 2620 days

#9 posted 01-05-2014 07:18 AM

Well, I got some slabs. Thanks again for the inspiration.

Again great build!

View BillG's profile


82 posts in 4565 days

#10 posted 01-05-2014 02:06 PM

Work the wood down with a wooden plane rather than using an iron one of you can. Wet wood and iron do not go together well. I tried to use my #7 as a fore plane. It did not slide well and jammed with shavings. I had rehabilitated and old wooden fore plane which worked far better. The curved blade shave off 1/16” shavings with ease. I then flattened the surfaces with another old transition plane (wood base, iron top) and stickered the slabs to dry for a while.


-- Bill G - West Springfield, MA

View Core2's profile


62 posts in 2620 days

#11 posted 01-05-2014 08:55 PM

Ok, thanks for the information Bill. I currently do not have a wooden plane. I only have a couple old iron ones. I did plan to let the slabs dry first before I started to plane them. Do you see any issue with letting them dry first? I have never done anything like this and any information would be great.

In the picture you can see the iron wood stove I am getting ready to place them under. I left them there for 30 minutes before I started to smell them from an entire floor away. Nasty smell. I took them outside. Now they are in my shop that is probably at 36F. Going to be a slow drying process. I have been thinking about trying to make a small wood drying kiln. Just for fun.


View BillG's profile


82 posts in 4565 days

#12 posted 01-06-2014 01:02 PM

Don’t rush trying to dry the wood, it’s going to take some time so be patient. Give it at least four to six months before you do much with it. Basically you want to work at green and get it together or wait until it is dry. After you get down to about six to eight percent moisture content, it will be ready.

The rule for air drying wood is one year for each inch of thickness. If it is near a heat source small pieces will dry quicker.

-- Bill G - West Springfield, MA

View Core2's profile


62 posts in 2620 days

#13 posted 08-17-2014 03:45 PM

I got a chance to play out in the garage today. I only have two old planes. So I used the longest one I had. I had to sharpen the blade to finally get it to cut with ease. I don’t use them much. I am going to after today’s experience. I got one of the slabs and started working it down. The slab in my picture above. I used a draw knife on the edges, along with an ax. I got one side flat enough to send it through my planer. This is the slab now.
My work area.

View BillG's profile


82 posts in 4565 days

#14 posted 08-17-2014 09:29 PM

It’s amazing what you can make for yourself out of wood from the firewood pile. At it takes is a little time and some creative thinking.

good effort, that slab looks true and square.

-- Bill G - West Springfield, MA

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3882 days

#15 posted 09-18-2017 01:34 PM

That is a magnificent table and it is so nicely done. I would love to visit Plymouth, Mass. and see this type of furniture being made. I would love to see the shop as well. Beautiful work!

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

showing 1 through 15 of 17 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics