Walnut Stool Finished

December 27, 2012 Comments Off on Walnut Stool Finished

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It’s always nice to finish a project. For the last several weeks I’ve been picking away at this little stool as I had time, and today I put the last coat of shellac and rubbed in a little paste wax. The stool was inspired by those at the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site. It was a fun little project. Angles in a piece always add some complication, but overall this was a straightforward build. There are plenty of little mistakes—mostly in that little cross stretcher that serves as the foot rest—but overall I’m happy with it. It’s the journey as much as the destination with these projects, and as always I learned a lot.

  • I still tend to rush through marking and measuring and forget to double-check my work. That bottom stretcher was supposed to be shorter in height, but I sawed the insets in the legs wider than I planned. Cursing and a bevy of shims and other cover-ups ensued.
  • All the pieces are fastened together with cut nails, and the square inset plugs were actually quite easy to do. I’m not sure I’m completely sold on their look for this piece, but they were fun to make.
  • Card scrapers have to be the biggest bang for the buck of any woodworking tool ever made.
  • I just love the look of amber shellac on walnut. And a dark paste wax at the end fills in the open pores with a dark brown that just further highlights the wood. This is one case where a finish at the end of a project didn’t leave me disappointed.
  • On my next project (that isn’t a piece of shop furniture), I think I’ll make a working model of the piece first, either from cardboard or wood. There are some details that I would have added had I seen a working three-dimensional rendering beforehand. I added some, but only after much of it was put together which made it much more difficult.

I’d like to say that it’s good to cross this project off the list, but in reality this project was never on the list (Judy nods in agreement). I just happened to like the look of the stool when we visited Kam Wah Chung, and decided to build it on a whim (and push all the other projects back a little). For the next little while, I’m going to be building shop furniture. These are not my first choice of things to make, but I need to bring a little organization and improved workflow to the shop (and try to make a dent in the wood stash).

Now if I can just get one of our dogs to stop licking the paste wax.

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Functional, too!

The beautiful walnut used for this stool came from Doug Gillum, who owns and operates Portland Stump Grinding and Hardwood Salvage, a small business here in Portland, OR. Doug rescues urban trees that are destined for the chippers and mills them up for local woodworkers. In this case the wood came from a walnut tree that had to be removed in Salem, OR. He often has big slabs for table tops as well. I like buying wood from folks like Doug for a few reasons. For one, it’s supporting a small business and keeping all my money local. Second, I’m using trees that would otherwise be simply thrown out, or at best, used as firewood. And third, small outfits like this often have stacks of wood from the same tree, so all your wood for a project will have the same look and feel to it.


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