A Joint Stool, Ruhlmann Style

For your viewing pleasure: Steve Schafer sent along this photo of a joint stool that he built after asking himself the following question: “What would Ruhlmann do had he lived during the American Federal Period?”

The stool is made from curly cherry, holly and Texas ebony. The checkerboard inlay design was inserted using a technique from Rutager West. Rutager’s method will be shown in an upcoming article in Popular Woodworking Magazine.

It will be interesting to see how the authors of “Make a Joint Stool from a Tree” will react to this piece. Horror? Amusement? Something that involves a hatchet?

Steve asked me to point out one thing about the project:  “Boys and girls, this is NOT how you make a joint stool.”

I think it looks kinda cool.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Chris Schwarz

Publisher of woodworking books and DVDs specializing in hand tool techniques.
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13 Responses to A Joint Stool, Ruhlmann Style

  1. John Callaway says:

    I love it ! I had thought to myself after finishing the boom that I would do it with more ” modern ” hand tools and with stuff that I didn’t hew out myself….. I like my lumber to be four sided when I get it , not round. Logs are great, if you can process them in to lumber yourself. My current tool selection does not accommodate such a task.

  2. Jay Oyster says:

    I like it. Playful. Fun. But they did have treadle-powered lathes during that period, and I can’t see Ruhlmann not putting *something* round in there someplace.

  3. Ron Dennis says:

    Half Wit here – What is Texas ebony?

    Steve – Did you build your own banding? This is a particular interest of mine. At $30 a run, I would like to build my own.

    Does anyone have published references other that Fine Woodworking?

    Respectfully,

    Ron D.

    • Megan says:

      Diamond banding here: http://www.popularwoodworking.com/oct11/diamond-banding

      And you’ll find some info on the checkerboard in Rutager’s story in the Dec 2012 PWM.

    • steveschafer says:

      Texas ebony: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_ebony

      The use of Texas ebony is a bit of an inside joke; go to the Popular Woodworking website and do a search on Texas ebony.

      I did make the banding. (While I copied Rutager’s design, I actually worked out the process myself.) Basically, I bandsawed the lumber to approximate thickness, handplaned it to final thickness (which, with Texas ebony, means lots of sharpening practice), then glued the pieces up into sandwiches of appropriate colors. I then jointed both edges of the sandwich flat (via handplane), then again used the bandsaw to slice off two slices of banding, one from each jointed face, nominally 1/16″ thick (a little thicker for the seat pieces, where the ends are visible). I rejointed the stock and sawed off two more pieces, etc. until I had enough. The banding was inlaid into grooves about 3/64″ deep, jointed side down, and then handplaned flush.

      The crosscuts were made using a Bridge City Jointmaster SW, which I trust to make accurate cuts more than my innate hand-eye coordination (or lack thereof). But you could certainly make the cuts “manually” with a fine-tooth saw; in general I use a Zona saw for that kind of thing. The checkerboard patterns were built up in situ, from crosscut segments that were the full width of the grooves.

      The drawbore hole cover plugs are end grain. I made up a “log” of four square-section pieces, being careful to be sure that the pieces were aligned on both ends of the log. I then cut the log into six shorter lengths so that I could do one full face of the stool at a time. (And at the end almost lost one of the pieces in the shavings pile on the floor…)

      After having worked with Texas ebony here, my recommendation is that if you want to create similar banding, use African blackwood instead. ;-)

    • mitchwilson says:

      Try the Wood Database. (wood-database.com)

  4. robert says:

    That stool is outstanding! It’s what other stools aspire to.

  5. Graham Burbank says:

    Actually, it’s the thought process here that I enjoyed the most.” What if…” was a favorite inspiration point at wendell’s in the early ninties. It sometimes produces butt ugly WTF? peices, but can bring forth a fresh perspective on an old form.

    • steveschafer says:

      After building it, I started thinking about some other potential mashups, but I don’t have any concrete ideas yet. For example, I can imagine what a Nakashima joint stool would look like, and I can also imagine what a Queen Anne joint stool would look like, but what would a Nakashima-Queen Anne joint stool look like?

  6. steveschafer says:

    For anyone who is interested, I am going to be at Woodworking in America in Cincinnati. If (a) it’s okay with Chris, (b) I can be reasonably confident that I will be able to get it back out through convention center security, and (c) Peter Follansbee promises not to take a hatchet to it, I can bring it to the LAP booth, and people can sit on it, look at it up close to see if they can find all of the little mistakes, etc.

    For those who won’t be making it to WIA, there are a couple more photos online: http://www.flickr.com/photos/66983845@N03/8113237909/in/set-72157631829070431/

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