From Issue #5, “English Arts & Crafts Stool” by Glen D. Huey. Includes a short video.
Below is an excerpt.
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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.
Because these legs are tapered, the idea of quartersawn ray fleck popping off the show faces is a goner. Yes, you could work some kind of magic, but any veneer that you add would show with the exposed leg tops of the stool. I gave up the idea and made the decision to orient my better grain faces toward the front, which meant that I could make those calls after the material was milled to size (Fig. 1).