Windsor Shop Stool


A comfortable seat can make a big difference in your work.
By Michael Dunbar
Pages: 39-45

From the October 2009 issue #178
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I designed this stool for a special purpose – making chairs. The stool places a chairmaker above the chair seat. This position is more comfortable when assembling the back. We have more than 30 of these stools around our shop. There is one for each vise and a couple extras for the teaching staff and for visitors. Our students all sit on these stools when working. They sit on them when watching demonstrations and when eating. In other words, our stools get used a lot.

You can make this stool for your shop. It is also a handy piece of furniture to have around the house. The stool is 2″ higher than a typical chair. It places a child or a smaller adult at table height. Made in the 24″ version, the stool is perfect for use at a counter or around an island.

These stools are comfortable and you can sit on them a long time. Their design solves the problems that make most stools uncomfortable. The round top is big – an ample 14″ wide. It will accommodate the widest backside. The top is dished to 3/4″. This depth allows you to sink into the top. A flat-topped stool is very uncomfortable.

In spite of its delicate appearance, this stool is remarkably rugged. Some of mine have been in continual use for 30 years. While somewhat worn, the joints are still perfectly tight. They have stood up to hard treatment. Putting a Windsor chair together requires a chairmaker to move fast. Lots of parts have to go together at once. There is little time to gently move a stool into the desired position or out of the way. The job is usually done with the foot. The stool is kicked into place then shoved out of the way. They are frequently put on the bench. When they fall off they bounce across the floor.

These stools are a good way to get some chairmaking experience without getting in over your head. Most woodworkers avoid chairs because of complicated geometry. Most chairs involve compound angles – parts lie in two planes. This stool uses only simple angles. The parts are all in one plane. Stools are seating furniture and part of the chairmaker’s trade. So, in this article I will often refer to chairs and chairmaking when talking about the process of making this stool.

Online Extra

For a SketchUp model of the Windsor Shop Stool as illustrated in the article, click here.

For a picture of the 24-inch stools mentioned in the article, click here.


From the October 2009 issue #178
Buy this issue now