Curvy Plywood Stools

In Tutorial by jackmanworks@gmail.com

These stools were each made from a single sheet of poplar plywood. Each is laminated from a total of 80 pieces – the layers are 5 pieces each, mirrored with each layer, creating a “box joint” at the corners. The seats were carved out with a router jig, the side cut with a skill saw, and the rest of the curves carved with an angle grinder and sander. And yes, these seats are incredibly comfortable!

Build Details

I started with a full sheet for each stool. I had to cut some strips off of the sheet to get it small enough to fit down into the shop.

It’s much easier to cut on the table saw!

The majority of the strips were 2″ wide with a hand-full of 3″ strips for the seat of the stool.

3° was the magic number!

Then I cut the 160 pieces…this took a while. I did a sketch in CAD to determine the dimensions of each piece – each layer is made of just 5 different piece that are the same at each layer.

What am I supposed to do with all of these?!

The first layer was the hardest, you have to get the shape of it perfect at this point.

Then after that it is just a giant glue and wood sandwich.

And glue.

And wood.

Yummm

I tack the pieces as I go, with brads. The final pieces are clamped to avoid any exposed fasteners. The clamps also pull everything together.

I left the corner pieces a little long so I can cut them off later. Sawzall and furniture? Of coarse!

And then it’s just a bunch of sanding.

Like I said, a bunch of sanding.

I cut the corners off of the top of the stools

Then I rounded it over with the sander.

A line is drawn to determine the bottom of the stool.

And the feet are cut to length.

Once everything is sanded smooth, I round the corners.

I cut an arc on each side of the stool to give it it’s 4 feet.

Now these need some more curves! I cut a cove in the side using a circular saw. It took a total of at least 10 passes to reach the depth, very little at a time.

The cove cut to final depth. I then sand the hard corners round.

This is a little jig I made to cut out the “butt profile” for the seat.

The jig is simply held on with friction by pinching it on each end with screws.

I added a long attachment to my router to follow the profile on either side. I use a 3/4″ flat bit in the router.

The router is lowered down little by little until the desired depth and profile is reached.

If the project wasn’t messy enough already, this confirmed it!

The final seat profile.

And MORE curves! I both grind and sand the edges of the stools to add a few more curves. This exposes many layers of the plywood giving a lot of cool profiles and colors.

For the finish I used lacquer. 6 coats total to create a tough finish that can take a beating.

You can really see how that lacquer brings out the color in the poplar!