There! I said it! I tried something the other day that didn’t turn out quite as well as I had hoped. Don’t get me wrong, it turned out fine and will work for what I want. It even looks good if you don’t look to closely, but it’s definitely not my finest work and at some time I’m sure I’ll break it down and do it over again. It was in fact something I had never done before (yet again) and I was flying by the seat of my pants on it. In retrospect now I have an idea of what I’ll do differently and that’s good.
I needed a stool that was the right height for me to sit comfortably when I TIG weld. My adjustable stool which works well for most projects just wouldn’t get down low enough and I would end up craning my neck and winding up with a major headache whenever I sat there for long. Heather was kind enough to lend me the little white all purpose stool that we use around the house but it can’t live in the garage so I knew I needed to build my own stool. It was exactly the right height though so I had some measurements to start with.
I rummaged through my scrap wood and found a short live edge piece of maple that was nicely concave and big enough to fit my butt comfortably. My big goal was to build something comfortable and that fit the bill perfectly. Because it was for shop use I wasn’t too concerned with finishing the seat but did want it to have a bit of protection so I slapped on some Minwax Polyshades. It’s a stain and polyurethane all in one so was just fine for what I was looking for. I sanded down the maple but wasn’t too concerned about the finish and proceeded to put 3 coats of the finish on and called that done.
For the stool legs and frame I decided I’d see if I could use up some scrap pieces I had. I had some short pieces of an old bed frame that I would use for the seat base and had some leftover 1 inch square tubing that would make the legs and some 1/2 inch square stick for the crossmembers. Turns out I didn’t have quite enough tubing for the legs so had to pick up some more at Demxx but once I got everything together I started cutting and getting it ready to assemble.
I decided I wanted to try making splayed legs for the stool. That meant I was cutting the legs at a combintion 5 degree angle so they would splay out 5 degrees front and back and side to side. Seemed simple enough but I had to visualize the angle as I set up my chop saw to make sure I cut the compound angles right for the front and back legs as they were opposites. Got the hard part done with the legs and cut the base pieces and struts and then got to work. Tacking things together.
This is where things started going a bit off the rails. I built the seat frame first and then fit the legs into the frame and tacked them into place. This didn’t work as well as I had planned, mostly because I realized I didn’t have enough clamps to keep everything from twisting as I welded and couldn’t keep the compound angles consistent. Oh yeah and the angle stock I used for the seat base was crap so it didn’t weld good at all.
Anyway I persevered and got it all welded up and sure enough it had a bit of a twist to it. If I make something like this again I’ll make some jigs and build the leg sets individually and then make sure it’s all shimmed and the angles are right before I start welding. Lesson learned.
The final part was to put some adjustable feet on. I cut and drilled some 1 inch flat stock and then tacked some 1/4 inch nuts on. Got my TIG out and welded the pieces to the legs with the nuts to the inside. Feet screwed in and voila! Just about done.
I threw a coat of clear lacquer on the finished stool base. Kind of felt like I was putting lipstick on a pig to be honest with you. 🙂 And is after all just going into the garage. But it was more out of habit than anything I think.
With the stool base complete I drilled and mounted the seat and gave it a quick sit. Quite comfy. With the adjustable feet it makes up for the crappy fit up and sits nice and stable. It’s going to work out just fine.
This little project has certainly pointed out some issues with my work space. For some stuff I need a bigger table and just don’t have the room. This project also reinforced something I already knew – I need somewhere to throw my tools when I get working on something so things don’t clutter up my already small available work area. I’m loooking at finding (or building) a rolling cart that I can use as extra workside storage space.
But once again I have learned things and each thing I learn brings me farther down the path and gives me more confidence to tackle other new and challenging projects.
I like being the kind of guy who says, “Yeah, I can do that”