Joint Stool Leg Stock

Big Pile of Shavings

I finished preparing the leg stock for my joint stool this weekend. The dimensioned stock is buried in this pile of shavings to slow down the drying process. Planing “green” red oak could almost be considered a pleasure. Nothing like planing dry hardwoods. I would equate it to planing dry Eastern white pine or poplar. I “peeled” shavings about 1/32″ thick from the riven stock using my fore plane. These are shavings who’s thickness would be measured with a ruler, not a caliper (if you are the type that is into measuring shavings). The wet, tannin rich stock will cause your plane iron to rust very quickly though. DAMHIKT.

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6 thoughts on “Joint Stool Leg Stock

  1. Hey Bob. Will you be turning these on your spring pole lathe or will these be squared and chamfered? This has been on my to do list since I started reading Peter’s blog a few years back. I love the idea of not having to have every surface perfect and that it’s ok if your apron is thinner on top than on bottom. This sort of construction really appeals to me. I’ll be anxiously following your progress.

    • Hi Jamie,
      The legs will be turned on the spring pole lathe. I’m looking forward to that. I made an extra leg to practice on before I cut into the real legs. I also need to chop the mortises first, prior to turning.

  2. Did you wax the end grain? That helps. If you are turning the legs anyway, maybe wax them all around? I never heard of the shavings technique and don’t understand how it works. And how will checking be prevented when working that green?

    • The shavings just keep the moisture that’s leaving the oak from migrating too far; helps slow down the drying process. I do seal the end grain of my oak stock when it’s thick stuff – I use yellow glue. And watch the room’s condition – keep the stock away from heat sources. The cooler the better. We just had a sudden shift from 70-80 degrees here in southern New England, and now it’s down to normal 20-40 degrees. that means the heat might come on in the shop. Time to watch the oak carefully.

      • Well, there you have it right from the horses mouth. Thanks for chiming in Peter, and thanks for sharing all your knowledge! This project is giving me a whole new respect for oak (as long as it’s green :)).

    • Dan,
      The end grain was sealed with a heavy coat of latex paint to slow drying and minimize checking (which is a completely non-traditional practice, but we’ll make that minor concession in this case). Covering everything up with the green shavings acts as a sort of insulation by slowing evaporation and limiting air circulation around the stock. It doesn’t completely seal things up so the stock gets moldy, but it slows the air circulation around the stock so that it doesn’t dry as fast as it would if it were completely exposed to the shop air, especially in my shop, which is climate controlled and usually very dry in the cooler months because of our forced air heating system. However, even with all of this, it is very unlikely that checking will be completely prevented. It’s possible that the stock may not check because it is all riven (as Peter Follansbee says, it’s what quarter sawn stock wishes it was), but it probably will experience some minor level of checking. That’s fine. It’s auhentic to the piece and the period. Just about every period piece has some degree of cracking. It’s just the nature of the construction methods and the materials. When you build authentic reproductions, you expect and welcome these “flaws”. It makes the reproduction all that much more true to to the period.

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