English Arts & Crafts Stool


Pieces from the Arts & Crafts movement are most often tied to a handful of makers. Hubbard, Limbert and, of course, the Stickley brothers are some of the names conjured up in our minds when we talk about Arts & Crafts furniture.

Furniture built by these names – or the companies they operated – has a similar look. Slats, square and beefy legs, flat panels and exposed mortise-and-tenon joints all reflect the Arts & Crafts movement in full force in the United States at the time.

Take a look at Arts & Crafts period furniture built abroad, and you’ll likely notice a difference. Names such as Voysey, Gimson and Barnsley made pieces that had more shape and design. Another name from that period that is often lost in history is Arthur Simpson. His early work was ecclesiastical, but time spent working in London opened his eyes to the domestic market.

As I searched for a unique project from the Arts & Crafts period, Simpson’s stool caught my attention. Made from white oak, it had ties to the work produced in the States, but differed greatly from stools built by Stickley and the others.

Simpson’s stools have tapered legs with an added twist of finishing octangular at the floor. They are simple in joinery – four mortise-and-tenon joints in all – yet have details in construction that challenge many woodworkers. Plus, the seat of woven leather adds to both comfort and appearance.

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4 thoughts on “English Arts & Crafts Stool

  1. Hi Glen,
    I like this project, I’m going to put it on my build list. I have a question, in the photo where you are installing the leather strips, it appears that dowels are installed in the legs, were these draw bored into the tendons on this sample, but not needed, so not shown in the exploded view.

    1. Kevin,

      You are correct in that the legs-to-stretcher joint is pegged, however, it was not as a draw-bore. The joint was glued and clamped, then after the glue dries I installed a peg at each joint more for looks and for a bit of extra hold just in case. I cannot remember the last time I used a draw-bore to pull a joint together.


  2. Glen,

    Have you tried to wetting the leather before attaching the ends. Wet Leather will stretch and then shrink back once it dries. Just curious. I made a crib many years ago and tried to make it as old fashioned as I could including make the mattress support by weaving leather as illustrated in this stool. The first time I did it after a little while the leather stretched and sagged to much so I redid it and stretched it first and it held up for over twenty years now. In fact my grandson is now using the bed.

    1. Wade,

      The salesperson at the store mentioned wetting the leather, but that was to wrinkle the surface to give it a better “aged” look, and nothing about stretching. If the stool starts to sag, I’ll take your advice as I rework the leather. Thanks.

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