Asian Inspired Contemporary Stool

  • Advertise with us
Project by Brian Havens posted 06-11-2012 10:08 PM 2803 views 9 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Lately, I have been unable to pull myself away from the lathe. And by “lately” I mean for the last year or so. At the same time, I have been itching to make some furniture. So I though that perhaps I could make some furniture on the lathe.

I set out to survey what kinds of furniture is being either partly or completely made on the lathe. For sure, I found some spectacular craftsmanship in the area of turned furniture, but there was something missing. Most of the lathe furniture was quite classical and traditional in style, with lots of beads, coves, and ogees. Not that there is anything wrong with that style of furniture, it is just not my style and taste. My proclivity is toward the contemporary usually with just a dash of Asian influence. I found few examples to fit that bill.

At this point I was thinking that, with all the wonderful and creative turning techniques available, techniques that I frequently see hobbyist turners and artistic turners use, there has to be some turning techniques with which I can create a contemporary piece of furniture.

This stool is the results of my exploration. All the parts for this stool were turned on the lathe!

The legs were made on multiple axes. The first axis was used simply to make a 2” cylinder. For the second axis, I shifted both the headstock and tailstock centers the same distance, but in opposite directions. Once spinning again, the blank makes a butterfly shaped shadow, with the shadow disappearing at the middle of the blank. I completely cut away the shadow on one half to form the top half of the leg, and turned a bead on the bottom of the other half to form the tippy-toe foot. The results are an inverted tapered leg that has the illusion of being slightly curved.

The stretchers were made similar to the legs, but using four different axes. The first, again, was used to form the initial cylinder. The second and third axes were used to form the tapers on either side, just like the top of the legs. The final axis was on the two offset centers, and is parallel to the first axis. This final axis was used to form the tenons so that the stretchers are moved outward.

The grand finale is the seat. The bottom of the seat was formed with essentially the same technique that is used to make winged bowls. The seat was mounted with the centers at the centers of the seat, top and bottom. The bottom was made with a straight cut, but at an angle. The results in the curved shape on the bottom of the seat. How cool is that? turing a curve with a straight cut? (For you math geeks, think about a plane intersecting a cone).
The top of the seat was formed with a curved cut, so that the thickness of the seat varies. It is essentially a “square” bowl.

This stool has opened up a floodgate of ideas for making furniture either partly or completely on the lathe. There may even be a collaborative effort being born. (shhhh!)

P.S. I was hoping to post this stool last Friday, before the AAW Symposium, but time did not allow. I did, however, have this stool in the Instant Gallery at the Symposium.

Woods: Wenge’, Honduran Mahogany
Finish: pre-cat lacquer (ML Campbells)

-- Brian Havens, Woodworker

13 comments so far

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 4291 days

#1 posted 06-11-2012 10:24 PM

That is Awesome… even the seat. Very impressive. I like that a lot!


View mafe's profile


11741 posts in 3295 days

#2 posted 06-11-2012 11:15 PM

So elegant.
What a fine work!

Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View amagineer's profile


1415 posts in 2803 days

#3 posted 06-12-2012 12:55 AM

The stool is fascinating. The design makes for a great conversation piece.

-- Flaws are only in the eye of the artisan!

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 2820 days

#4 posted 06-12-2012 05:11 AM

thats a beautiful stool ,looks like that with lathe time you have mastered ti

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View Geoffrey Young's profile

Geoffrey Young

54 posts in 3048 days

#5 posted 06-12-2012 08:02 AM

simply stunning. all on the lathe


View Kindlingmaker's profile


2658 posts in 3732 days

#6 posted 06-12-2012 12:40 PM

Brain, I was at the AAW Saturday with MickeyD and we noticed and liked very much your stool. (We also wondered how you turned the seat, thanks for the explanation.) It had a great showing place and stood out nicely. Great job!

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View Brian Havens's profile

Brian Havens

196 posts in 3312 days

#7 posted 06-12-2012 03:18 PM

I just realized that I should clarify that I did not actually mount the seat between centers. I was merely trying to indicate how the seat was oriented on the lathe. Mounting the seat between centers would probably not work well and may even be unsafe. Initially, I tried mounting the seat on a screw chuck, but the Wenge’ was too brittle to behave. I ended up gluing a sacrificial block onto the Wenge’ with epoxy, and using a faceplate. Even then, I used the tailstock for extra support anytime that it would not be in the way.

Just wanted to clarify this for the sake of safety.

-- Brian Havens, Woodworker

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 3189 days

#8 posted 06-12-2012 05:03 PM

nice stool,the legs are the interesting part.seems as they bend 1/2 way up.nice seat too.

View SPalm's profile


5325 posts in 4088 days

#9 posted 06-12-2012 05:42 PM

Very nice Brian. I really like it.
I am impressed.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View kiefer's profile


5622 posts in 2873 days

#10 posted 06-13-2012 03:31 AM

Very impressive and the shape detail at the bottom of the legs is wonderful .
Excellent !

-- Kiefer

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

617 posts in 4472 days

#11 posted 06-14-2012 01:35 AM

Exciting design, beautiful execution.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4305 days

#12 posted 06-25-2012 02:42 AM

It really is such an elegant and stunning design!

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View DocSavage45's profile


8726 posts in 3048 days

#13 posted 07-31-2012 01:41 PM

Nice piece, Inovative. How was it recieved?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics