Carving a Set of Bar Stool Seats from Cedar
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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Project Steps

Carving a Set of Bar Stool Seats from Cedar

By Freeman Furnishings

Tools Used

Introduction

A good portion of my work is either customized or commissioned work.  Today’s project has such an origin.  I have made a few sets of bar stools with carved cedar wood seats that are dyed a variety of colors.  These stools are on display at a local Interior Designers store front.  It is through a client of the interior designer that I received an order for three carved cedar wood bar stools, dyed green.

Step 1

I was starting with a stock of cedar wood that had all been previously planed to just ¾” thick.  This thickness requires two pieces to be glued together in order to have enough thickness for carving the stool seat.  In order to do this, I broke down the Cedar, using a miter saw, into six pieces approximately 18” long.  Doing a little mix and match I found which two of any of the six would make the best match for the glue up. In order to get the best surfaces for gluing that would allow for the least number of gaps, I used a belt sander to remove mill marks and rough patches on the gluing side of all six boards.  I applied Titebond I glue to the newly smoothed wood and used 8 clamps for each set to get firm and complete pressure across the whole seat surface.

Slab of wood
 
Step 2
After the glue had dried I prepped each blank for carving.  I used a bandsaw to cut off the live edges and get a rectangular piece that was 18” L x 16” W x 1.5” T.  Other tools such as a table saw or jig saw could be used to do the same thing.  I used a bandsaw because that is the best tool for the job that I had available. Then I used a permanent marker and ruler to layout the general shape outline for each seat.
 
 
three slabs of wood  
Step 3
With the blanks cut to size and the general outline laid out, I got to work prepping the carving station.  I set up the HomeRight’s Small Spray Shelter with Straps for a fan and filter on a portable workbench.  I installed a clean 20” x 20” filter and box fan in the straps of the shelter. To provide a stable working surface, I placed a piece of scrap plywood inside the shelter.  I then clamped the hose of a shop vacuum on one side to provide additional support in containing the sawdust within the shelter.  With the box fan on pulling sawdust to the filter and the shop vacuum on, the free-floating sawdust created while carving is greatly reduced.
 
I put the Holey Galahad attachment from King Arthur’s Tools on my angle grinder and I was all set to carve.
 
Cutting wood in the small spray shelter with straps
 
Step 4
Following the outline, I carved the outside shape.  I then free-handed the dished-out shape of the seat, pausing periodically to test it out by sitting on it.  Since I had three seats to make, I decided to do a little experiment.  I carved two of the seats inside the HomeRight Small Spray Shelter and one seat on a larger workbench with my old set up of two shop vacuums clamped to the work surface to collect dust while carving.  Carving twice as many pieces inside the spray shelter left me with about a quarter of the amount of sawdust on the floor and work surface as just carving one with my old setup of the workbench and shop vacuums. 
 
 sawdust on floor
sawdust in shelter
 
Step 5
There was one seat that had some voids created by some soft wood and knot holes that had come loose and fallen out during the carving process.  These voids needed to be filled with epoxy resin.  I used a two-part epoxy resin, mixing equal parts by volume of the resin and the hardener.  After using blue painters tape along the edge to help contain the resin, I poured the resin into the voids.  Then I used the HomeRight Heat Gun to remove bubbles from the epoxy resin.  The epoxy resin I was using requires a full 24 hours to cure before any sanding.
 
applying epoxy
getting rid of air bubbles with a heat gun
 
Step 6
After the epoxy resin had cured, it was time to sand all three seats.  Before starting to sand each seat inside the Small Spray Shelter, I used a shop vacuum to clean off the filter.  Then I used my orbital sander, starting with 60 grit sand paper and working all the way up to 220 grit sand paper.  This left the surface smooth, all carving marks removed, and prepped and ready for finish.
 
sanded barstool in spray shelter
 
Step 7
For this customized order the client requested that the seats be dyed green.  I used a mixture of different hues of green of FolkArt fabric dye from PlaidCraft.  Once I got sample approval from the client I was ready to spray using the HomeRight Super Finish Max Sprayer.
 
After using the sprayer to apply the green dye, I applied a spray matte Lacquer from WATCO.  Now, because of the flammability of the lacquer spray, it is not recommended to be used with either the spray shelter or the Super Finish Max.  Therefore, I applied the lacquer while the pieces were on a drop cloth on a workbench, with plenty of air ventilation and circulation due to the fumes.
 
spraying dye in the super finish max
 
spraying lacquer with a spray can
 
Step 8
With the finish applied and dry, it was time for assembly of the stools.  The client had requested that the seats swivel.  I purchased the swivel mechanisms from Amazon and attached them to the bottom of each seat using a 1” course thread Kreg screw and my Ryobi Quiet Strike cordless impact driver.
 
Then I aligned the holes on the other side of the swivel mechanism with the pre-drilled holes in the metal stool bases I purchased from a local metal works shop.  I fastened the mechanism to the stool base using bolts and nuts and voila!  Three bar stools with green seats were complete!
 
adding swivels to the bar stools
 
 Finished green diy bar stools
 
how to make handmade bar stools with green dye and a paint sprayer 
Want to see more projects like this? Head to the Freeman Furnishings blog!

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