Cantilevered CNC-cut bar stool made from half a sheet of 18mm (3/4”) ply
It is purely glued and doweled, there are no metal fastenings.
Very strong, will flex rather than break.
I start by measuring - sometimes an existing stool, to get the dimensions. Important to get the seat-to-feet height right, for a comfortable stool, and the dimensions of where you place your derrière, so you have enough support.
Then I sketch a rough layout in SketchUp, play with fitting to a sheet of ply, so either 4x4 or 8x4, for the best utilisation of the timber, most efficient cutting layout, etc. ensuring such details as having two mirror faces so you can pick the best face for the ends.
Then refine, refine, refine until you get what you want. Being able to do a full 3D assembly, quickly is the key, for me. There are other, more accurate and ‘industry’ CAD tools out there, but I keep coming back to SketchUp for its sheer simplicity and ease of use - especially when working with sheet goods and flat planks of wood. You don’t need much more than some basic primitives.
Only then do I send it to the machine for a test cut. And of course, getting my heaviest friends to sit and prove its strength.
Cut from 1/2 sheet of 18mm (3/4”) Plywood and 6x 270mm (10.5”) 10mm (3/8”) hardwood dowels.
It pays to hand-finish your ply before cutting - makes finishing much quicker.
Place one full-length piece down on a flat surface, glue and install all dowel pieces.
Alternate top and bottom pieces and spacers, glueing all meeting faces and dowels. Finish with full-length piece.
Clamp until glue is dry.
Alternatively, glue and clamp in top/bottom pairs and do final assembly when glue is set.
The key to a successful stool is at the face join and two dowels in the centre of the stool - that is where all the stresses reside. Get those joints right with glue, dowels and clamping and you will have a solid piece of furniture. Don't scrimp on quality or amount of glue. I use Titebond II Premium and it is perfect, clean up excess with a damp cloth while clamping.
I finish my outside edges with a 1/4" roundover router bit and sand till smooth, then apply an oil/varnish finish and use felt or nylon buffers on the bottom.
I use Meranti plywood - it doesn't need to be furniture grade, as the layout has the two end pieces in mirror-image, so you can pick the best side as the outer, display face. I like Meranti over Baltic Birch or Pine ply as the colour is richer and the grain is more pronounced, but whatever works for you.
Don't use MDF - it's too heavy and will chip easily. I'm not convinced it will be strong enough, long-term. The ply plus dowel gives 'bounce' and feels more comfortable.
You can top with an upholstered pad, if you want. I have an alternative version with a cut-out for insetting a leather pad. Ask if you are interested in the model.
Completed, varnished and with protection on the bottom, these retail for $1600-2000 a set of 4, depending on finish.
If you want to commercially reproduce them, licensing is very reasonable - contact the designer.