One of the excuses I used to get started with woodworking (and spend money on tools of course) was that I wanted to build 5 footstools for our beauty salon. Our customers currently rest their feet on some rather horrible pink plastic footstools that cost 49 baht or less from the local supermarket. They look a bit out of place and the top is hard to keep clean. I can do better than that I thought! This blog will detail my adventures in trying to build these footstools. These are my first real project, I have made a couple of shelves for the salon but I’m not counting those as no wood had to be joined together.
The stools are being made from rubber wood which is available in wide, fairly flat, planed boards. With my current lack of both equipment and skills this is an ideal wood for me to learn on before I start depleting the precious stocks of tropical hardwood. Rubber wood is a by product of latex production so there seems to be plenty of it around, being rubber tree growers ourselves with around 1,000 trees in northern Thailand it’s nice to support the industry as well.
I used Sketchup to make a simple design for a stool with the same dimensions as we are currently using. These stools will be used many times everyday so they don’t need to be pretty or amazingly well finished, just comfortable and strong enough to take constant use.
Here is the progress so far:
The stock was cut from a large board using a circular saw and a couple of shop made jigs to aid with ripping and cross cutting. The arches in the legs and stretcher were made with a combination of jig saw, rasp and sandpaper. The legs fit into router cut dados in the top and then were secured with a couple of screws while the stretcher is simply butt jointed and screwed. I have tested the stool myself by sitting on it for a while and my frame is larger than the average Thai so I think it is safe to use in our salon :-)
I have learnt a lot and made a few minor mistakes but overall I am pleased with the progress so far, let’s hope I don’t mess up with the finishing! After I plug the holes with some dowel I’m going to use some teak coloured stain and follow with some floor finish once I track some down. I was going to use some wipe on poly but just noticed that it says not for use on floors so it may not be tough enough for a footstool.
The stool sits nice and square and flat on my bench and living room table but wobbles a little bit on our tile floor. After a bit of investigation I discovered that our floor is pretty uneven from tile to tile. This seems to be the standard in Thailand, if anybody has any advice on how to make the stool a bit more forgiving of uneven surfaces I would love to hear it.
I’m going to do a bit of work setting up my little shop now I have some space away from the heat of the sun before starting on finishing this stool and building the next one. I was thinking of simply cutting enough wood for 4 more tops, legs etc. and just knocking up another 4 stools the same but I won’t really learn anything new doing that. I am going to use each stool to practise a new technique but hopefully end up with the same final result. For the next stool I am thinking of making a template for cutting the legs with the router and having the stretcher fit into a dado in the top and legs. It’s still not ‘real’ joinery but it will require some careful measuring and cutting to achieve which is all good experience for me.