An upholstered stool for sitting. The stool has a lid to an inner compartment similar to a piano stool. The legs are wood-turned and the upholstery method was studding.< Back to Main Page
Before bed, I like to do a small amount of reading and writing. I dont like sitting in bed so I sit on a small stool beside my bed. Currently, this stool is a plastic IKEA stool.
It was an adequate solution in the beginning. Now, however, I require more comfort and support from what I'm sitting on. I need a stool that has a larger top and is cushioned.
I put all my books on the floor as I am sick of getting up when I want different books. I want the stool to have a storage compartment so books don't need to be on the floor.
The guidelines for creating a concept were;
- The stool must have a storage compartment
- The stool needs to be low
- The stool should be cushioned
The first idea was to just have a cushioned wooden stool. Focusing on aesthetics and comfort. This would suit my room, however, I would still need to leave books on the floor, or need to get up to get a different book. The design shown is also beyond my capabilities of manufacturing.
This design has the comfort and storage but the legs are too long. The stool would need to have stubby or disproportionately short legs to get the desired height. The technique of using studs for the upholstery is one I will use in the design.
This design matches the main criteria. Although not using studded upholstery, the leg proportions are correct and the storage compartment is there.
The design of the stool will be based on concept 2 and 3.
The final design criteria were;
- Stool needs to be strong enough to support stored books and someone sitting
- Stool needs to be built for longevity
- Stool needs to have aesthetic value and 'a style'
- The upholstery must be comfortable to sit on
- The storage compartment needs to fit multiple books inside
- Stool should be light so it is easily portable
- The design should be hand-crafting and not manufactured
- The craft techniques should be within the workers capabilities
With the design criteria in mind, a mortise a tenon frame was used as the base of the design. Due to the layout of my room, the stool could not extend from the wall more than 35cm. A length and width for the stool was chosen to be 450mm and 350mm respectively. The material I chose for the lid frame left about 250x350mm for the interior storage compartment.
Moving to the legs, I wanted to turn them rather than taper or carve them. I chose a turned pattern of an ogee with 2 beads on either side, and a simple taper on the bottom. I left about 1/3 of the leg as a block for the joints and to hold the bottom of the storage compartment.
The storage compartment was given a depth of 10cm. I was going to cut a slit in the legs to sit a sheet of MDF in, however, I decided to have a cut-out in each leg so that the compartment could be fully rectangular. The top of the stool would be another sheet of wood over a frame for the lid. The lid would be attached with some hinges to one of the frame pieces. Some foam and upholstery material would be placed over the sheet and the studs would be inserted into the side of the lid frame.
The tools, joints and material used are outlined below;
Water-based Walnut Stain
Open Mortise & Tenon
4 - 60x60x280mm
2 - 350x24x70mm
2 - 450x24x70mm
2 - 350x50x36mm
2 - 450x50x36mm
1 - 250x350x4mm
1 - 350x450x10mm
All material was sourced from what I had sitting in the garage. I used New Guinea Rosewood for the leg blanks, Radiata Pine for the leg frame pieces, Silky Oak for the lid frame pieces and MDF and plywood for the bottom and top surfaces respectively.
The tenons for the lid frame were too large so they were sanded on the disc sander. The sanding couldn't get all the way in so a carving chisel was used to cut the remaining material out.
Although strong, when tested, the joints would not hold over days of use, and the beams would slowly come out of the mortises. A large crack appeared in one of the legs due to a fracture from chiseling, so the frame needed to be glued, however, the joints were strong enough so clamps were not required.
Although the stool was manufactured and performed successfully, overall, the stool was fell short. This was due to poor design, minor errors and oversights caused the final result to be less than ideal.
The most major design fault was the placement of the hinges. The legs of the stool protrude from the side beams by about 10mm, which means if the hinges are attached to said beams, the stool lid cannot open. Strips of MDF were added to distance the hinges from the beam, however, the offset meant that the stool lid was now off-center (as can be seen in the final image with the stool legs protruding).
This project has been a lesson in design, especially for furniture and woodwork. As it turns out, the dimensions are far less important than geometric tolerances, manufacturing methods and aesthetic style. In this one project; I switched from manufacturing to hand-crafting, High-Speed-Steel to carbide tooling and relying on glue to relying on the integrity of wood joints. This did not go well, the changes were not inherently bad, but poorly timed.
Specific lessons learned;
- Never make a major methodology change half-way through a project
- Don't compartmentalise other elements of the design i.e. upholstery, mechanics and woodwork
- Consistent wood-turning is difficult when done by hand and without proper measurement
- Design based on what suits reality and available manufacturing methods, not on what is ideal
- Open mortise joints are not good to use without glue
- When designed correctly, a stool compartment can hold much more than anticipated
|Ease of Manufacturing||Marginal|