Folding Stools: The Scrapple of the Campaign Furniture World

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Today I’m building a couple of three-legged folding stools for “Campaign Furniture.” We’ve been building these all summer in classes and for fun, but I have neglected to take photos of the process – not that there is much of a process.

The great thing about these stools is they take almost no material or time. The two stools I’m building today are made from scraps left over from campaign chests, Roorkhee chairs and hides I have sitting in the basement.

All you need are three 1” x 1” x 23-1/2” sticks – perfect offcuts, really.

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One of these two stools is based on a late-19th-century example shown in one of Christopher Clarke Antiques’ catalogs. These stools were quite common (they still are, really). In addition to the military, these stools were common among artists, campers, sportsmen and hunters.

The only thing keeping these stools from being a perfect weekend project is the hardware. The old three-way bolts are very hard to come by. Time to talk to a blacksmith.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Publisher of woodworking books and DVDs specializing in hand tool techniques.
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20 Responses to Folding Stools: The Scrapple of the Campaign Furniture World

  1. Bear Limvere says:

    Hey Chris — a while back someone (maybe you?) posted pictures on their blog or article using an eye bolt and straight bolt for these. Straight bolt went through two legs and caught the eye between, with that bolt through the third leg.

  2. CamPAIN furniture. What’s the weight capacity Chris? And how do I explain to the EMT why I have a leather-clad drumstick protruding, well…..protruding.

    • lostartpress says:

      It will hold you, Jameel. Now your brother….

      Just kidding. It will hold both of you. Simultaneously.

      • abouna2 says:

        What! You gotta be kidding me. I miss FORP and all of a sudden I’m the target?!

        You swore you never make public mention of my muscle mass again!

  3. Bob Miller says:

    Is there a way to attach the legs with just lashing or perhaps some additional hardware to hold the lashing in the right place but no bolts. That seems easier than a 3 way bolt.

    • steveschafer says:

      I mad a stool that way many years ago. I used nylon cord, about 1/16″ diameter, to lash the “joint” together in a way that was flexible enough to allow the legs to splay but snug enough that they wouldn’t slip out of the lashing.

    • Thomas Scott says:

      Every boy scout knows how to make a tripod lashing, even without the pioneering merit badge.

  4. Could you post, or link, to a picture of the bolt pls. I don’t quite understand.

    thanks

  5. semperpaul says:

    Although my historical research falls far short of Jeff Burks, I recently discovered a chronicle of the Three-Legged Stool in the wild: episode 1481 of Mister Rodgers Neighborhood opens with Mister Rodgers and Mr. “Speedy Delivery” McFeely making a Three-Legged Stool with the above mentioned tri-bolt and a leather seat. And a tour of a crayon factory. Yes, the toddler is slowing down my shop time.

  6. I’ve seen these done with cotter pins and washers. You get three large cotter pins, possibly as big as 1/4″ diameter, and six washers that will fit over them. Open up the pins to a 240° and put them flat to flat. Slip three of the washers over them up to the center. Put your legs on, followed by three more washers. Clip the ends of the cotters a wee bit long and bend them over. It is backwoods elegant, readily available, and it works like a charm. It is not historical, however.

  7. lostartreader says:

    Then, there’s Matt’s idea to use bolt threaded through an eye-hole bolt at http://www.designsponge.com/2011/06/diy-project-tripod-camping-stool.html
    which would fit into my budget better than a custom or small-production hinge.

  8. Chris, my day is at a machine shop. Send me a pic and details of the 3-way bolt and I’ll work you up a quote.

  9. Seth Keever says:

    Why has the mere mention of scrapple gone without comment thus far? Sure, we’d all like decades old, air-dried (insert rare/exotic wood species here), but sometimes you’ve got to make the most of what you have. Sure, you’d prefer bacon or sausage, but all you’ve got is scrapple for breakfast. You make do, innovate, and hope that there’s not a distasteful amount of spleen or salt in your food.

    Anyone care to take on a woodworking analogy related to livermush/liver pudding (which I personally much prefer to scrapple, by the way)?

  10. amvolk says:

    Is there any info out there about the size of the seat leather? It looks like it should be an equilateral triangle. About what length per edge? Thanks.

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