Starting work on Stool 2

Cutting tenons by hand

I’ve finally found some time to start work on my next woodworking project – Stool 2. I had made my sister a kitchen stool as a 40th birthday present and while delivering it – noticed that she had two stools in her kitchen. AKA – she’d need/want another one to have a matching set. Well – I agreed to make her one (last summer….) and finally just found time to start work on it.

So today I started work on the legs of the stool. I started cutting the top bench side tenons which I have to say is perhaps my favorite part of the project. Marking out the tenons is easy with a marking gauge, the problem though is the stool is made out of red Oak with a deep grain. As you can see – it’s sort of hard to see the knife lines…

Red oak… Grumble…..

So the top and cross lines are pretty easy to see, but the vertical lines are almost invisible. The first step is to saw down the tenon faces with a rip cut saw….

Stay off the knife line!

Hard to see here again – but Im off the knife line on each side. While not necessary in most case, because the tenon faces are typically not seen, I prefer to dimension them down with a router plane. So when I saw down, I stay off the knife line about a MM or so. I did a better job of that on the right side than on the left. Still learning how to saw straight apparently…

Next I use a cross cut saw to saw the chunk out. I view this work as rather rough work. That is – Im not trying to make it perfect. Finish work is for a chisel or a plane…. So the next step is to start working the tenon face down to the right width for the mortise. To do this, I set a router plane depth down to the knife line and starting working down toward it….

Getting there…

In the picture above you can see that the far side of the tenon face is still showing the saw marks whereas the closer section is rather smooth. I started smoothing the face with a router plane. Apparently I can’t cut square at all….

Once this is done its time to tackle the shoulder. This is work down with a sharp chisel. You start at one end and start working across the knife line….

Satisfying to see the shoulder starting to form

Above I started at the right and start working my way over. I like starting with a smaller chisel, and then as I start having a reference surface available I move to a wider chisel so I can reference the cut on the previous cuts…

Almost done!

You can see that the Im almost all the way across here. But you can also see the slices each chisel stroke has taken. While this looks not perfectly clean, the reality is no one will ever see it. The important pieces is that my knife line still shows a flush cut all the way across. So while it’s probably fine at this point…. For me… It’s still a bother that it’s not perfectly flush. While this seems like the right time to use a shoulder plane – it really isn’t. There isn’t enough room to reference the plane and since the far end cant be supported you’re likely to break it out. I have a wide 1.5 inch chisel that I used for final cleanup…


And once that’s done – you have a perfectly cut tenon cheek and face. The process takes some time, but one of the things I love about hand tool wood working is that it sort of forces me to be patient with the work. I’ll probably cut the other tenons over the next week or so as I have time. Next up though I need to cut the angled sides of the stool tenons – but that’s for another post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.