Mahogany Kitchen Stool Project #5: Laminating Seat Back and Back Rest

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Blog entry by sras posted 02-27-2010 01:03 AM 5862 reads 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Setting laminations to final thickness Part 5 of Mahogany Kitchen Stool Project series Part 6: Finding shop time in a busy schedule -or- Making slats & cutting pieces »

Once I have my strips sanded to thickness, I can cut them and get the five pieces I need for gluing. I have enough material for six so I’ll have a strip left over. There are a couple of cases where I ended up with damage on part of a strip and that sixth piece was nice to have.

First, I sort my six long strips and find which end I want to have in the final part. I look for color, grain direction and any character that I might want to have on the outer faces. Then I mark for cutting. I use the inner form and rock it along the strips to get the length.

First cut

I then set aside one piece and cut the last two to length. Next, I spend a few minutes and sort and re-arrange the pieces. I am looking for the two nicest surfaces to be on the outside as well as have uniform color and grain direction on the top edge. This can take several tries before I find a combination I am happy with. I then mark the pieces to make sure I keep the orientation unchanged.

Now it is time to apply glue. I use yellow wood glue – it has a fairly slow set up time and that is a good thing for this operation. I just use a piece of cardboard to get an even coat.

Spreading glue

I coat one face and make sure the entire surface is coated and fairly even. I can see wood grain through most of the glue. If I have too much, I transfer it to the next surface to be glued.

Finished spreading

One thing that you do NOT want to do is glue your piece to the fixture. To prevent this, I use a piece of stretch wrap (from the kitchen). Then I put the stack into the fixture and start to draw it together.

\First clamp

The fixture has two arcs offset by the thickness of the part. These arcs were cut carefully to ensure that I would get even pressure along the glue joints. After the first clamp is at its limit, I add two more clamps. As I draw these two in, the first clamp comes off.

Second clamps

The outer form of the fixture is set up to be a jig for cutting the tenons. As a result, they are short and do not pull the ends in to the inner fixture. So I add C-clamps on each end.

C-Clamps on end

After getting all 6 clamps tightened, I set the assembly aside for 24 hours. I have two fixtures – one for the curve at the back of the seat and one for the curve at the top of the back rest (you can refer back to a picture of the prototype here). The two pieces have a different radius.

Clamped up

I checked the spring back after when I unclamped the first part. There was about 1/16 of an inch at the center. I used 6 laminations in the prototype and there was less than half that much. I like fewer glue joints , so I will live with this much spring back.

Spring Back

My first glue up had a little too much glue. The squeeze out wicked onto the face of the part. I used less on the rest of the parts and never had this issue again. It only took a little sanding to remove the squeeze out.

Squeeze Out

On one piece, I had a swirl in the grain that looked cool. It was on two of my parts so by placing one on the inner face and the other on the outer, I could give the illusion that the swirl went all the way through the part. Unfortuantely, the part on the outer surface broke during clamp up. I had to unclamp, unwrap, remove the broken part, retrieve my spare 6th part, rearrange for grain and color, clean the glue off the new outer surface and reclamp. It was a bit of scramble, but it all worked out.


Scramble to repair!

After unclamping, I trim the part to width and length. I am very pleased with how these parts are turning out. The glue lines are hard to find and the parts are very uniform.

Trimmed part

Here is a shot of eleven of the twelve parts. It has taken a while to get this far, but I am pleased with my pace.

Finished parts

Current time log:
Cutting rough stock: 2 hrs
Cutting legs to width and thickness: 4 hrs 20 min
Seat Back and Back Rest
> Cutting thin stock for laminations: 3 hrs 35 min
> Prepping laminations: 8 hrs 40 min
> Glue up Laminations: 3 hr 50 min
> Trim Laminated Parts: 2 hr 25 min

Total so far: 24 hrs 40 min

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

7 comments so far

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3817 days

#1 posted 02-27-2010 01:31 AM

Looks good.

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14178 posts in 4126 days

#2 posted 02-27-2010 01:58 AM

fun stuff … looking good

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View stefang's profile


15947 posts in 3478 days

#3 posted 02-28-2010 12:34 AM

Very good work Steve. I’ve never done any laminating/bending like that so I appreciate you including your thinking process about grain, features, etc. Thanks for sharing this with us. Very good blog.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View sras's profile


4883 posts in 3273 days

#4 posted 02-28-2010 04:34 PM

CJ & Dan,

Thanks for the compliments. I am really interested to see how these finally turn out.


Thanks as well. I am glad you found this helpful

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View ellen35's profile


2738 posts in 3576 days

#5 posted 02-28-2010 06:56 PM

You are really making progress.
I love how you made the curves.
Waiting for the next installment!

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View sras's profile


4883 posts in 3273 days

#6 posted 03-01-2010 01:29 AM

Thanks Ellen,

It is nice to hear from you. I hope you don’t have to wait too long, this is a spare time project. I can see the next few weeks will leave me little time to make progress. I hope I can keep moving at a reasonable pace!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View sras's profile


4883 posts in 3273 days

#7 posted 03-22-2010 04:47 PM

Well, my prediction was correct. It’s been three weeks and looks like it will be at least one if not two more before the next update. I am making progress, just not enough to make a new entry worthwhile …

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

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