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Hi everybody, I’m Mike McCrory and this is Wood U Make It. I saw a website on YouTube from a French woodworker named Boris Beaulant. He made some stools – some small stools for children – that I really liked.
He had a pretty innovative way of making them. He was afforded that luxury because he has some pretty high-end tools. So, I’m going to take that basic design and adapt them to be kitchen stools, so they’re going to be about twice as high. I’m going to use some different wood. I’ve got some walnut for the seats and some cherry for the legs. I’m pretty sure he used beech for the entire stool. So, I’m going to change the height, I’m going to change the material, and I’m going to change the process because I don’t have the tools that he had to make those, so I’m going to have to adapt the methodology to make it work with the tools that I have. So, let’s get started! [theme music playing] I start by rough cutting the walnut and the cherry. The cherry is cut to about 26″ so that the stools will be 25″ tall. And the walnut I cut to about 65″ because I need to cut eight squares that are approximately 8″ square. I cut the legs to be 3″ wide. And again, I cut them to be a little wider than 3″ so that I could plane them down to the final finish. Then I used the planer to plane down the thickness of all of the pieces – the legs and the seat pieces – to a 1″ thickness. Initially I was planning to have legs that were 3″ wide but then I realized that my dado set can cut a maximum of 15/16″, so I backed it down by 3/16″, so it’s now 2 13/16″ wide. So, I have the legs cut to size and I noticed that I have some voids that I need to fill with epoxy, so I’ll mix up the epoxy and start filling. Here’s an example of another void that I need to fill. This is probably the most significant one. The rest are pretty subtle. So, I’ll fill this will an epoxy that’s dyed dark brown. And I have some other examples that I’ll fill with just clear epoxy. I’ll do the clear portions first. Put a little bit in there. And a little bit here. Now I’ll mix some dye into the epoxy. Over here on the walnut, I have a little bit of grain separation. I’m going to fill that with epoxy and then sand it off later. This will be on the underside of the seat so you won’t really see it, but I think it’s a good idea to fill it. I’m going to take some wax paper and set it on top. Then I’ll put a piece of wood and a weight to hold it down. I ended up clamping it instead of using a weight and then I let it set overnight, The next morning I was able to sand off the excess epoxy. Once it’s sanded away, it’s almost imperceptible. It looks a little messy here because the first thing I had to do was sand off the wax paper that was stuck. Now, I could have been much more economical in my use of the lumber because really I’m only cutting a square that’s about 3 3/4″ wide, but I want to have the end grain on the joint, so I rotated it and that’s what caused me to cut out 8″ squares. I’m setting the stop block so that it’s exactly the same as the width of the board and then that way when I cut off pieces, I’ll end up with squares. With the stop block still in place, I cut off some scrap pieces of MDF that I can use as test pieces. So, I’ve got the seat components cut out of walnut and I’ve got the legs cut out of cherry. Now what I need to do is make a joint, so I’m going to cut two slots with the dado set into the walnut and one corresponding slot in the end of the leg so that they can join together. I really can’t afford to make any error at this point.
The cuts have to be very precise – repeatable and accurate – so I’ve made this jig out of some leftover pieces of MDF. It slides along the table saw fence. It’s got two sides. This side for the walnut. And then I’ll flip it around to the other side. I’ll fit the leg in here and this will hold it vertical. The cuts will be repeatable and very precise as long as I get the distance between the fence and the dado set exactly where it needs to be. For the seat pieces, the jig is designed so that I can make the first cut and then flip the board around and make the second cut so that it’s very symmetrical. I’m just making a shallow cut first. I don’t want to make the full 1″ cut with the dado set so I’ll do it in two passes. Now I raise up the blade to be 1″. It would be almost impossible to make these cuts without some kind of a jig. This one worked well for me. Repeatability and accuracy is so important, and that’s why the jig is needed. I did several test cuts for each of the pieces because accuracy is so important. There’s no room for error in these joints. The fit is almost too tight, but it’s a very humid day, so I think it will be ok. Now I’m using my cross cut sled with a 45-degree miter and I’m able to cut the angles on the seat pieces. Then using the fence to cut the two corners off. Everything is symmetrical so I don’t have to reposition the fence to cut the other corner. I just flip the piece over and cut it again, so it was pretty straightforward. That’s not to say that I didn’t worry about making all these cuts, but with a little planning, I realized that it was not going to be that difficult. You can see here this is a really good fit. It takes a bit of pressure to put it into position, but it’s pretty tight. Now I’m making the final cut on the seat piece to cut off the front corner. I’m setting my miter gauge on a 45-degree angle, moving it up close to the saw blade, and then I’ll make the cut. Now it’s time to cut the mortises in the seat pieces. The legs are going to be at a 5-degree angle, so I’m going to drill the mortises into the seat pieces at a 5-degree angle as well. I’m using a mortising set in the drill press to cut these. This is a 3/8″ bit, so I have to cut in multiple passes. I was cutting a mortise that was about 1 1/4″ wide so I had to make three or four passes to get the full width. There were a lot of mortises to be cut. There are four seat pieces for each stool, and each piece has four mortises, and there are two stools, so that’s a total of 32 mortises that I had to cut. It took me a good couple of hours to make all these cuts. Now I’m measuring the width of the mortise in the seat piece because I need to cut a strip of walnut to serve as the floating tenons. It’s about 1 1/4″ wide. It’s a pretty tight fit but that’s exactly what I want. Now I’m setting the stop block to cut the floating tenons to be 1 7/8″ long and that will leave the exposed portion of the tenon to be about 3/8″. The tenon goes into the mortise about 3/4″. I did a complete test fit off camera, but now I’m confident that it’s ready to be glued up. The only thing to be careful of here is to be sure that the seat is square to the leg. Now I’m setting the table saw bevel to be 5 degrees and now I’m ready to cut off the bottoms of the legs. I’m using a stop block to make sure the legs are exactly the same length. That way we won’t have any wobble in the stool once the four legs are attached. Now I’m gluing in the floating tenons and assembling the four different components of the stool – the seat and the leg. This was no easy task to get everything lined up because it was such a tight fit. But I really did want a tight fit, so it was worth the extra effort. Just a couple of final taps and then everything is in the right position. I’ll just leave that to set overnight. This is the next evening now. I’m back home from work and I’m using a random orbit sander with 120-grit sandpaper to start. Then I ended with 220 and then I finished it up by hand. I wanted to round over all the corners just a little bit so that I wouldn’t have any sharp edges. When I did my first test sit in the seat, some of the corners were a little bit sharp so it was important to get them rounded before applying the finish. Now I’ll flip the stools over an apply some glue to the feet and I’ll also put glue on some strips of cork that I’ve cut and then bond them together. This didn’t really require any clamping. I just flipped the stools over again and put a weight on each stool and that served as a clamp. It provided enough pressure to make sure that the cork stuck. For the finish I’m using a tung oil finish. This emphasizes the contrast between the cherry and the walnut grain and makes some of the stand out nicely. The first stool’s done. I’ll do the same on the second stool, and then I’ll repeat about five times to get five coats of finish. I cut the excess cork off with a sharp knife and then I did a bit of hand sanding to bevel the edges. After the five coats of finish had dried, I applied some pumice stone with paraffin oil. This gives it a nice finish. Not too glossy, but nice and smooth. I just rub that on. Try to rub it in the direction of the grain. Then I rub all the pumice stone off with a clean cloth. And prepare it for a coat of wax. It’s just paste wax that I’m rubbing on. Then I’ll wipe it off with a clean cloth and then it’ll be finished. And here are the finished stools in our kitchen, alongside the counter. So I gotta ask. . . would you make it? [theme music playing].