Saturday, March 14, 2020


…I take a stab at making furniture…

Growing up, I recall that we had a little cricket stool in the house.  It was nothing like this…

It was constructed of maple and finished to look like all of the other wood furnishings Mom and Dad (well, probably Mom) had picked out.  Sixty-five years ago, the little sitter was just my size.  I recall, many, many times, tipping it over and pushing it around the braided rug until Mom caught me.

I found myself thinking of that little stool when I ended up with two scraps of Central American Parota, left over when craftsmen finished a new mantel for our rebuilt fireplace.  “You want me to save the excess?” the craftsman asked.  “Sure,” I said, but I didn’t know for what.

After the mantel was installed, the two scraps of exotic sat taking up space on the workbench.

One piece was about three inches thick and a little more than an odd-shaped foot square.  The other was 3 x 3 x about 10, with a nice array of grain and a pleasant little curve to it.

Perhaps if I sanded them down a bit, I’d get inspired.

In my forty years of owning a Makita belt sander, I’d never mastered its use. The helpful hardware man down at Ace offered a brain-dead simple tip and I was off to the races.

I learned what a dowel-screw or a screw-dowel was.  I purchased one.  Now I had 65 cents invested in this – for lack of a better descriptor – wood sculpture.  Now it had better work out!

Twisting the post-like piece into place, it became clear that, with two other legs I could have me a milking stool – or better yet – a cricket stool!

I applied a first coat of teak oil – because that’s what I had on the shelf – and watched the grain pop into strata of dizzying earth tones.

Getting three legs to be just so for this project was going to be a challenge, so I looked up the outfit in Portland that fabricated some picnic table legs for me a while back.  Their website offered exactly what I needed.  

Four weeks and a hundred and twenty-four bucks out of pocket, the UPS man delivered ‘em yesterday.

In the meantime, I’d added a second soaking of teak oil.

I didn’t want to use the galvanized hardware provided, so I high tailed it down to Ace and bought five bucks worth of black machine screws and washers.  After all, this was to be fine furnishing. Right?

Assembly would be easy.  (I used my magic Phillips screwdriver.  Note how it stands up on its own. Magic!)

The finished product turned out rather nicely standing on its own two (or three, depending on how you count them) feet.

It weighs about thirty-five pounds, however – much more than that old maple cricket stool of yore.  It’ll take a brutish two-year-old to push this thing around the house.

I took one final shot of the project – in use – but only for illustrative purposes so the reader could get an accurate perspective on size.

Again, strictly for illustrative purposes.


Notes:  Petaluma, CA boasts a great business called Heritage Salvage.  One could spend a good long time just perusing their collection of hand-hewn oak timbers from 140-year-old Amish barns, or derelict redwood staves from the old water tank that served Tahoe City.  And slabs not only from redwood trees but from a root-rotted stump of a tree planted by Mariano Vallejo nearly two centuries ago.  They custom mill, cut and finish the piece you can’t live without and don’t seem to mind folks like me wandering through….

Symmetry Hardware in Portland, Oregon fabricates and finishes steel legs.  I’ve used their services for a couple of my projects.  A small business that will consult with you and does excellent work, it feels really good to use this source rather than a big-box store.  Plus, I got exactly what I needed for this little project.  Check ‘em out:

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Church of the Open Road Press