Stool & table designs to go with chair


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Ok I have been spending less time today in the shop, between going to the new Transformers movie with family (it was good but maybe not quite as good as first two) and time on Sketchup working out some design details for a table and stool to go with the Adirondack chair. First I need to really thank Aaron for some help on Sketchup - he knows what hurdle he helped me get over but it really was easy once you knew the trick (kind of like many things in woodworking actually). Here I thought I was pretty good in Sketchup - but like with most things there is always something new to learn. His input and critique on the design itself has also been helpful and I appreciate all his design advice as well.

OK so now I am throwing these out here for ya'lls (yes I am a southerner from Texas so we spell the plural you - ya'll - sure beats youse guys - LOL) input.

First off the simple design issue is the stool - there is very little involed in its design. The only elements you can bring in from the chair design is the front legs, the front apron, the seat slats, and the side legs. Given there is hardly anywhere to incorporate the cloud lift in the stool I choose to use Aaron's 2nd alternative side leg design with a half cloud lift on the bottom edge of the side leg and I will be doing that in my version of the chair as well so that the chair and stool flow together.

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Structurally the slats of the stool probably give enough support for the side legs that the second apron down at the low - I suppose that's the front - end of the stool is maybe not needed, but I felt it really helped make the chairs front face apron more of an element in the set. Plus when the stool is up near the chair it hides the front apron on the chair.

The table is giving me more grief in terms of design details and I am not sure I am satisfied with the design ideas I have thus far. One of the features I wanted is a small shelf below the table top so that it would be a convenient place to put a citronella candle without it eating up space on the small table top. They say things are bigger in Texas and damn it!! - its suretainly true of the mosquitoes. Here, let me just throw the different combinations of design ideas I have thus far out there on the table (pun intended).

The first is putting slats in for a table top and for a lower shelf. I did discover in this version that the shelf slats end up slightly above the top of the cloudlift side stretcher - though that could probably be fixed with some tweaking of the dimensions.

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The second version is my attempt to bring in another G&G element that is not used in the chair or stool - through tenons that are rounded over. I am a tad concerned its bring in an element that's not needed for the set, but I do think its a much cleaner design then the slats and ebony plugs design.

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Lastly a bit of a hybrid of the slats and ebony plugs for the table top mixed with the through tenon design for the lower shelf.

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One of the main features of the table is to repeat the arm brackets in a way commonly used by the G&G brothers as brackets between a table apron and table legs. It helps tie that element well between the table and the chairs, but it does mean not using the cloud lift profile on bottom edge of the aprons. As far as I know, and granted I am by no means fully versed in everything G&G, the G&G brothers never mixed those two design elements in the same piece. So the best way I saw to bring in the cloud lift was to do something I have seen done before (either by G&G themselves or in G&G inspired furniture designs that came after them) is to make a table stretcher in a cloud lift profile.

Well that's the design ideas I have thus far on this. I think for the most part it all fits well together as a set - here see what you think of them together in a set:

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So please comment and throw ideas out there and feel free to critique to your hearts content on the designs I have proposed. Nothing is set in stone - or maybe more appropriately cut in wood yet. I am not even going to begin building the stools and table until after I have two chairs built so, for me at least, there is still plenty of time to solicit comments and input from my fellow guild mates.

Has anyone else thought through a table or stool design yet? If so care to through the design out here to share with the rest of us? Hell if its paper and pencil design scan it in and through it out here. I am sure we can all come up with some good inspiration from it.

Well I am off and back to the shop to finish my two sets of chair front leg mortises and bottom leg details.

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I think I see what you mean from the last Sketchup image.

I have no problems with the foot stools - they match the chairs nicely.

For the table, I like everything except the top. I think there are too many slats.

If the top was solid, with a good overhang, you could repeat the outside edge of the arm rests on the two edges next to the chairs. That might match better? I hope you can 'see' what I mean from my poor description.

John

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I think I see what you mean from the last Sketchup image.

I have no problems with the foot stools - they match the chairs nicely.

For the table, I like everything except the top. I think there are too many slats.

If the top was solid, with a good overhang, you could repeat the outside edge of the arm rests on the two edges next to the chairs. That might match better? I hope you can 'see' what I mean from my poor description.

John

Hey John - thanks for the input,

I get what you mean and I had thought up trying to use the edge profile of the arms some how in the table top. I was sort of avoiding doing a solid table top and trying to do slats to help rain water drain off the top and not risk any of it pooling and leaving a puddle. Maybe if I put the arm rest edge profile with a bit of a cloud lift on the "bread board" ends (for lack of better term to call the two end boards of the table top with the mortises) instead of doing through mortise and tenons with the slats might help tie the table design in better. I'll look at trying a top alternative that looks like that.

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Hey Jim. The footrest looks absolutely perfect. I wouldn't change a thing!

Both versions of the table look really good, but there are some things I would change if it were my table. The thing I always try to keep in mind with making a "new" G&G piece is that you first need to build a structurally sound vanilla table. Then slowly try to pull in Greene & Greene elements where they fit. I find it much more difficult to start with a whole host of G&G elements, and try to fit them into a particular project. I'm not saying that's how you did it, but when I arrive with a design that's a little "heavy handed", that's usually why it happens to me.

And just a quick disclaimer.....this is all just my personal opinion/taste. Ultimately, you have to make something you are happy with. So take my comments with a grain of salt.

I'd recommend simplifying where possible. Let's start with the bottom shelf. To my eye, it looks very busy and cramped. By simplifying the bottom shelf, you will effectively bring more attention to the rest of the eye candy in the piece. So I would probably look to have something more like William Ng's coffee table here: post-1-0-69435400-1309798106_thumb.jpg

Notice how the cloud lift is very subtle on the bottom and there is no lift on the top of the rail. This provides a subtle G&G hint without banging you over the head. You could also incorporate a single board shelf with a long through tenon, just like Ng's table above. By simplifying the shelf dramatically, you are allowing the viewer's eye to catch the other amazing details in the table, like the brackets above and the leg indents below. As it stands now, the bottom shelf is competing aggressively with the top.

For the top, I would definitely shy away from through tenons. For an outoor piece, that seems like a recipe for problems down the line (wood movement). And again, its a little aggressive visually. Instead, why not opt for a classic G&G breadboard top with ebony splines? post-1-0-63738200-1309799104_thumb.jpg This is classic G&G and pretty standard stuff for a table top.

Another recommendation, probably going to be the biggest hassle of all, is to reduce the size of the legs. The legs on the chair and foot rest were designed to support lots of weight and the thickness is needed for functional reasons. On the table though, the legs appear a little too meaty to my eye. We wind up losing some of the delicate feeling that a small table like that should have. So I would try taking the legs in from 1 3/4 to 1 1/2". You could even go to 1 1/4" but I think you might have some issues with the tapered indent looking funny at that point. Speaking of the tapered indent, that's why this would be a real pain in the butt. You are going to have to design another jig to fit this new leg. And the thinner leg may very well cause you to want to reduce the size of the brackets above so they are in the proper proportion.

The final suggestion I have is concerning the ebony plugs on the legs. Instead of the two offset plugs right next to one another, I would reduce that to one plug. Then add an additional, smaller plug where the bracket meets the leg. Bring that smaller (1/4") plug a little closer to the inside edge of the leg. That would look spiffy!

So those are just a few of my thoughts. Again, just throwing out my gut reaction. There is certainly no right or wrong when it comes to this stuff.

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Marc and others,

How do ya'll feel about a solid top and solid shelf for outdoor use? Is it better to leave an 1/8" gap between slats or glue it up as a solid table top & shelf? I am just curious how others feel and see it - am I being too cautious trying to allow good water drainage in the rain for an outdoor piece or will a solid wood top and shelf weather and last outdoors OK?

Marc, I really like the William Ng coffee table shelf you put out there. I'll work on a version of the table that is like that sometime latter (about to head off for larger family BBQ with parental units and my brother and his family). I also like the ebony spline idea - do you think it should just go that route and not even do the breadboard ends with the chair arm profile. I'll draw up a couple of more alternatives when I get the chance to.

Thanks for the comments thus far - keep 'em rolling in folks!!!

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You bring up a good point with the solid top. I guess I was thinking about my personal situation where water drainage isn't much of an issue. Even if it rained here, my stuff would be on a covered patio. So I do think some additional through should be given to that design element. I do think bringing in the arm profile to the top is again on the side of "too much". So you might be able to do a traditional spline/breadboard and instead of a solid panel, you have a series of slats. Could be very interesting.

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You bring up a good point with the solid top. I guess I was thinking about my personal situation where water drainage isn't much of an issue. Even if it rained here, my stuff would be on a covered patio. So I do think some additional through should be given to that design element. I do think bringing in the arm profile to the top is again on the side of "too much". So you might be able to do a traditional spline/breadboard and instead of a solid panel, you have a series of slats. Could be very interesting.

Yeah Marc - in Arizona it would tend to be less of an issue I suppose. Being in Houston and on the Gulf Coast torrential down pours are common (well at most times they are right now we are suffering from drought conditions). Some day our deck will be covered, just one of the things that has been put off until funds and time allow to complete that part of the deck project. OK if I go with straight breadboard ends and ebony splines - do you think I should also do the long rectangular plugs that run down the long edges of the bread board ends (I am assuming they are covering screw heads in the the tenons of the top pieces but maybe they are purely decorative). They do look nice, but is it all too much of a new element to add to the overall set considering it is not in the chairs or stool? I am just pondering as I am really not sure if it is or not.

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Wow! I really like the footrest, especially the use of the similar apron design in the “front”. For what it’s worth, the apron has always seemed a bit of a “design orphan” to me since it’s the only area that has solely straight lines. But repeating the apron like that in another piece really makes me realize that it belongs there. Especially when I look at the image you (Jim) posted of the whole "set".

The only thing I would consider changing about the footstool is the use of the two ebony plugs in the middle of the side legs - where the front apron is located. It's not consistent with the side legs of the chair - where the lower back brace is located. You likely want to put some screws there for strength in the footstool, so you may have to have plugs. How about adding some matching decorative plugs to the chair?

I also like the table, and your use of the brackets seems right. In the chair they are used to join a horizontal (arm) and vertical (front leg) element, and you’ve repeated that usage in the table.

As far as the design of the table top, the version of the table that I like most has the “breadboard” ends on both the top and the shelf. I would go with slats, but otherwise stay with the design of the table Marc Posted. I would eliminate the long ebony splines in the top edge though. As for the shape of the top, I'm glad you thought about using the arm shape but it looks like a little too much. The table is already the busiest piece of the set so it doesn't need another design element.

Personally, I think eliminating the through tenons is also a good idea for a few reasons. First, they are really long and 2½” long mortises are hard to make. Second, this is an outdoor table so I wonder about the longevity of the joints with rain being able to get in, and seasonal expansion/contraction of the tenons (as Marc pointed out above). I don’t think the joint would fall apart but they may check or open up which wouldn’t be that attractive. Finally, that exposed tenon adds another design theme that isn’t seen in the other pieces so I wonder if that’s too much. Please don’t take that as criticism, since I don’t pretend to be a design guru. I am just wondering out loud.

Again, just wow. Great effort & enthusiasm! This is why I love the Guild.

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OK version 4 of the table. Simple rectangular bread board ends on both the top and the shelf. Ebony splines for the top and rectangular ebony plugs on the cloud lift stretcher covering two screw heads going through cloud lift stretcher into shelf bread board ends. The table has certainly been the tougher design - it is such a ripe pallet for throwing design ideas at, but it also seems its the easiest to get carried away on.

@Marc - notice in the table I tried the smaller 1/4" square plugs covering screw heads into the dowels of the bracket arms - I am not certain if I have the placement where you were thinning or not. I am trying to bring in the common thing the G&G brothers did of not always aligning the square plugs on the center line - there was often a few purposely put out of alignment. Let me know if this is where you were thinking the smaller square plug would go or not - I wasn't positive if you intended it to cover a screw head going into either the end of the dowel or directly into the end of the bracket.

@Aaron - just to see visually how plugs on the side of the chair legs matching the plugs on the side of the stools side legs. Only one of these would be a real plug covering a screw head into the lower back brace, the other would be a "faux" plug for balance and aesthetics (something else the G&G brothers did - not all the plugs were there for covering screw heads, or structural reasons, some where just plain decorative). It shows in the set picture - this was just a quick copy and paste of the plugs - again not sure of the placement and I am leaning towards no plugs on the side leg in either the stool or chair.

What do ya'll think - am I converging on a good clean design solution?

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That's a lot of ebony plugs. I'm not sure I would put one on every slat on the seat and foot rest.

Well the design of the chair calls for slats screwed to the side legs and I am matching that design on the stool. If you did not put the ebony plugs in the screw heads would be left exposed which would certainly be less attractive then the ebony plugs. I suppose an alternate solution might be to mortise & tenon the slats into the side legs. Maybe Aaron or Marc will have comments about the design choice of ebony plugs over screw heads on all the chair slats - I just made sure the stool would match the design they had already done.

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You are right. When people ask for design feedback I usually go with my first reaction when I see the picture, and my first reaction was, "That's a lot of ebony plugs!"

I agree that screw heads would be worse. I might go for flush plugs in the primary wood, rather than pillowed plugs in a contrasting wood. I don't know if G&G ever did that.

Feel free to ignore anything I say - I won't be offended.

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You are right. When people ask for design feedback I usually go with my first reaction when I see the picture, and my first reaction was, "That's a lot of ebony plugs!"

I agree that screw heads would be worse. I might go for flush plugs in the primary wood, rather than pillowed plugs in a contrasting wood. I don't know if G&G ever did that.

Feel free to ignore anything I say - I won't be offended.

LOL Beech - according to my wife I have the ignore thing down real well - or at least the not paying attention thing - LOL. I try to tell her its just inherent in the Y chromosome us men have - she doesn't buy that though, but I tried explaining the science of it to her anyway - LOL.

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Andreas (and others),

The table and stool sketchup models have been posted in the Sketchup library. I was more interested in just working out enough design detail that I could proceed with figuring out my lumber needs and to have enough information I could manage to build it by referring to the electronic sketchup model as I needed to. I apologize that I did not dimension and create the nice detailed views that Aaron worked so hard at accomplished at putting together such a detailed and complete model and set of drawings - he definitely deserves high praise and kudos for the level of attention he put into the chair drawings.

Please try and keep in mind I was most interested in figuring out the final assembly and the final look of the piece. I did not add any dimensions - you can manage to get those from the drawing however by taking measurements in the drawing or adding them your self. There maybe places that some funny layer behavior occurs (that happens when you edit a component but don't notice your currently in a different layer then the component resides in) - I tried to find places where I made that mistake but no guarantees I found them all. Also, you may want to double check that any mortise and tenon joints are correct and that the mortise drawn on one component matches up dimensionally to the tenon it joins with - I think I got all of them correct, but again no guarantees. When it comes to the table and all the extra design challenges it gave me, I did get to a point I was more concerned in figuring out how it would look that I shortcut some areas - I know the hole that would need to be drilled in the legs to accept the dowel from the brackets is not present in the model, I didn't draw in the grove that would be needed to accept the table top ebony spline or the rectangular ebony plug in the side stretchers to hide the screws for the shelf. There is a good chance there are a couple of other ares I am not thinking of right now were some of the hidden details did not get drawn into the model.

If I get a chance at some point in the future (and I must admit, it also means I end up feeling motivated to do it) I will fix these issues and put together a cleaner dimensioned drawing showing all the dimensions for the various components. I do have a bad habit when it comes to the models I create to just do enough that I can proceed to the shop, they are usually just created for my needs, only to the level of detail I am concerned about (maybe its not so much a bad habit, but just being efficient - I do tend to spend enough time as a firmware programmer sitting in front of a computer that I would much rather be in the shop building something then making highly detailed Sketchup models).

If anyone has any questions or comments about the details of the model feel free to contact me. I definitely like getting feedback on both the design of the table and chairs themselves and now that the actual Sketchup models are out there if there are things you see in it you want to comment on please do so.

Link to the footstool sketchup model

Link to the table sketchup model

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post-476-0-01723200-1309834870_thumb.jpg

I like this version of the table an awful lot. I would drop the double support piece details. I think they work for the larger chairs sitting under the armrest pieces but for the table its too much for my taste. Otherwise, I think you have it.

I also dig the foot rests.

But remember, opinions are like backsides.... everyone has one, and most other people's stink. So, I won't be offended if you disagree.

Good luck. Nice sketch-ups btw.

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Hi Jim,

Really nice designs. Every time I've ever designed a Greene & Greene-inspired piece I've gone through this same exercise: multiple revisions and opinions. Their design vocabulary is so rich that it can be difficult to find just the right balance. I have to say that I really like the table version with the contoured breadboard ends. It lightens the piece a bit and just looks right to me. This is, of course, the problem with soliciting opinions: if one person says "white" someone else is sure to say "black." Good luck.

David

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Hi Jim,

Really nice designs. Every time I've ever designed a Greene & Greene-inspired piece I've gone through this same exercise: multiple revisions and opinions. Their design vocabulary is so rich that it can be difficult to find just the right balance. I have to say that I really like the table version with the contoured breadboard ends. It lightens the piece a bit and just looks right to me. This is, of course, the problem with soliciting opinions: if one person says "white" someone else is sure to say "black." Good luck.

David

David thank you for the kudos - I had fun designing it for sure. The last two table top designs are my favorites, not sure which I will go with at this point - it just comes down to a choice of whether or not I mimic the chair arm's cloud lift edge profile on the breadboard ends or not. The last shelf design I think I am more firmly settled on. It's certainly nice to get feedback and input from someone who has spent plenty of up close and personal time with G&G pieces.

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  • 1 month later...

Jim,

Don't mess with the foot rests. They blend so well. I really like the 4th version of the table. It flows very well.

Then again, If you build a solid top table and put it outside, we may actually get some rain. Sacrifice to the rain gods??? Oh, never mind. A little rain is not worth that. ;)

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Lone Wolf - you got that right about the rain. Damn, as bad as this drought is getting it actually maybe worth the sacrifice to the rain gods. Many of the floating docks on Lake Conroe and I think all the Lake Houston docks are sitting on the bottom of the Lakes. Hadn't considered that a solid top might be a way to bring on the rain. Christmas season gift building may push off the table and maybe the stools until after the new year though so cross your fingers no rain god sacrifices will be needed by then and we will get some rain. I think this is the first year of my 40+ years of mostly living in the Houston area I have ever hoped for a tropical storm or a cat 1 level hurricane to hit us just to get the rain - it's a lot easier to hope for that when your living on the north side in Spring and no longer down in the Clear Lake area near Galveston Bay and worried about storm surge on the coastal areas.

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