Sunday, February 7, 2016

DIY Bar Stools

We needed new bar stools for our new kitchen and in typical "I can build that" fashion I said I could make bar stools like the Pottery Barn Tibetan bar stool seen here:

2x 96" 2x4 per stool (really about 1.5)

My Cut list:
3x 19" pieces (final seat pan = 18", we will trim them after glue-up to get down to that)
2x 26" pieces (cut these in to 4x 1.5x1.5x24" legs wit a 5 degree miter and bevel)
1x 16" piece (cut in to 2x .75x1.5x16.25" and 2x .75x1.5x9.25" for the rails)

I started out with the seat pan because I knew it would be a challenge.  I read a bit and people mentioned making jigs for their router.  To make the jig I used a string on a pivot point a few feet away to draw an arc I liked on the sides of the jig (1x6).  Then I cut it with a jig saw and sanded it down with a belt sander.  I used some scrap 4x4 to connect the sides and then that became the platform the seat pans would rest on (I used scrap/shims to hold the seat pan snug).  Then I made a quick sled for the router and attached rails on the underside so that the sled only slid on one axis.  A friend operating the jig:

This worked pretty well, it was built on a whim without much of a plan, but it worked out pretty well.

Once the jig was figured out I ripped and glued 3x 18" pieces of 2x4 together to make the seat pan, waited for the glue to dry and then ran it through the router sled.

Then it was time to make the legs.  I had never done a through tenon before so this was new to me, and my first few stools are not as good as the last one.  I figured out that I needed a 5 degree angle on my legs to get what I wanted so I set the miter saw to a 5 degree miter and a 5 degree bevel.  Then I drew out the locations for each tenon (using a board with a 5 degree angle cut on the end to figure out the "through") and drilled out the center with a forstner bit using a hand drill (during this project I acquired a drill press which made the last stool easier), and then chiseled out the rest.  A complete tenon:

Once I had everything put together I glued the legs together.  Once they were dry I set the seat pan on top, sanded the legs until the seat pan sat nicely proceeded to glue and nail (23ga pin nailer), and then set a bunch of weight on top to hold it down while the glue dried.

Legs attached to the seat pan:

For finishing I used the vinegar + steel wool method, and then applied 3 coats of polyurethane, sanding between coats.

The final product (each one is a little different, they are hand made after all :p):

Lessons learned:
* Glue the legs first, then attach the seat pan.  Don't try and do it all at once.
* Tenon's take a while.  It's also much easier if you have a drill press and sharp chisels
* Stools take a lot of time to make.  $100 from pottery barn is pretty cheap!
* I built each of the 3 stools from start to finish, one at a time.  I should have done it manufacturing line style building the stools in parallel rather than series.

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