Staked Stand-Part 1

I’ve read the book, a couple of times.  Wrote a review.  Read through all of the blog posts.  Purchased a tapered tenon cutter and reamer.  Even took a sip of the Kool-Aid, at least figuratively.  I have to admit that I’m a little more than intrigued by the ideas and methods presented in Christopher Schwarz’ (CS) new book, “The Ancharchist’s Design Book”.  The only thing left for me to do is to jump in and actually put those ideas and methods into practice.

hb-hobby-final- - 2If you have subjected yourself to my adventures in the past, you may remember the Hillbilly Hobby Tansu project.  The original idea was that the tansu would find a resting place on top of a chest or it would nestle onto a shelf.  Since the big move however, the tansu has sat unceremoniously in a corner of the living room floor.  It does spark up conversation with visitors but it drives me a little crazy having it on the floor.  So for some time now I have been contemplating some sort of stand.  Nothing really jelled until CS staked furniture methods came along.  Using the staked furniture idea I realized that I could build a stand that could also serve as a stool and even a work table. Don’t get too excited, this is just a slab of wood with four legs drive into it.  Hopefully with a bit of elegance though and even a small nod to Mid-Century Modern.

In his book, CS recommends 8/4 poplar for the slab tops and 6/4 – 8/8 oak for legs.  He says that these bits of wood should be easy to obtain from any decent lumber yard.  Either I don’t have any decent lumber yards around me or I looking in the wrong places.  I’m out to a 60 mile radius and still no luck.  That is OK though.  I have always been committed to building my projects from materials that I can obtain from the home center and I still hold to that commitment.

I can get all of the southern yellow pine I want at the local home center.  It’s plenty strong, but 1-1/2″ thick is the max on thickness.  So I decided to buy a 2×12 and cut it into 2″ wide strips.  Then I face glued those to create the slab that I needed.  So my slab is a rough 2″x10″x18″.


While the home center does sell 1-1/2″ squares of red oak, they are spendy.  It is actually much cheaper to order turning squares and have them shipped to the house.  I have had a large timber of oak knocking around for a few years now that I salvaged from a packing crate at work.  The legs for this little project were sawn out of that salvaged timber.

The legs started out as 1-1/2″ squares.  I then tapered them down to 1″ inch at the foot end.  The tapered blanks were then transformed into octagons.


I purchased the recommended Veritas 5/8″ tapered tenon cutter and the pro reamer.  CS actually recommends the basic large reamer because it can be used in a drill press. Since I don’t own, nor plan to own, a drill press, the pro reamer will work perfectly for me.  Plus the cutter is removable.  So it will be easier to sharpen.


To create the tapered tenons, I first marked the length with a gauge.


Second step was to mark a 5/8″ circle on the end of the blank.


Third I roughed in the taper with a spokeshave while daydreaming of having a drawknife.


Fourth, a test fit into the Veritas tenon cutter to get an idea of where I stood.


CS outlines a method in his book for roughing  these tenons in by hand that involves a saw and some chisel work.  I’m sure that method works fine, but I feel more comfortable using a knife for this sort of thing.


To bring the tenons down to final size was just a matter of test, trim and repeat.  Each test fit leaves a distinct mark as to where the high spots are.  Whittle those down and go back into the tenon cutter.  Sounds tedious, but goes pretty quick.


With the legs done I turned my attention to the slab top.  I’ll spare you the flattening and dressing of the slab (forgot to get any pics).  The only real concern with the slab, other than flat and square, is that is must fit easily into the recess that is in the bottom of the tansu.  Once that fit was verified, I laid out for the legs.

The book recommends 1/2 scale models with wire legs for finding the leg splay, rake and ultimately the resultant angle.  I winged it.  I set my legs on a 45 degree line from the corners and used a resultant angle of 16 degrees.  The resultant angle combined with the 45 degree line gave me all I needed to drill the socket holes.


Again, I must apologize, but I forgot to take any photos.  Actually I was concentrating on the task at hand and photos never even came to mind.  The only tricky part was reaming the sockets.  It’s not hard, but care must be taken to get the angles to match from leg to another.  You have the ability to “steer” the reamer as it cuts.  Which is a good thing, but also can lead to wandering away from where you really want to be.  So it’s best to set one leg and then go slow with the rest and make any corrections as needed on the remaining legs.

Well, after glue and wedges, the staked stand/stool is on its feet.  I still need to level the legs though.  Pretty quick for one afternoon of work.  If you don’t count the slab glue up of course.



I have the whole works sitting in the living room for now.  I have a couple of decorative ideas that I’m milling over and it will need a few coats of oil to finish it off.

All in all I like the process.  It’s simple and quick.  Plus I like the looks of it.  Stay tuned for the final version and see if I can make a mess of it by adding some decorative touches.

Greg Merritt

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28 Responses to Staked Stand-Part 1

  1. Very arts & craft with a hint of Norwegian and Swedish design. I like it.

  2. Coisas EM'adeira says:

    You’re back in business… 🙂

  3. Stefan says:

    Hi Greg,
    great post about this staked stool or stand. Your description is pretty clear. Nevertheless I’ve got two questions.
    1) You are bringing down the leg tenons with the spoke shave and the knife and you are using the tenon cutter just for refining the tenon. Did I understand that right?
    2) Didn’t got the thing with the rake angle. Is it the resultant angle because of just aligning the leg with the rim of the plank?
    I’ve bought the cutter and some material month ago and it is still laying around and waiting to get used.


    • Greg Merritt says:

      Thanks Stefan.
      1) yes…90% of the tenon work is done with the spokeshave. The knife only comes into play to knock down the high spots that prevent the progression of the tenon cutter.

      2) Its difficult to explain with words…the resultant angle is the angle of the leg when viewed along the sight line. The sight line in my case is 45deg. The important thing is that the resultant is the angle at which you bore the tenon hole.

  4. Brian Eve says:

    Hi Greg,

    Nice work so far. I love this style of build because it is so much fun to do.

    Good idea laminating the top to get the thickness you wanted. Just like a workbench. I wouldn’t have thought of that. Instead I would have used cross battens in the spots where the legs go. Around here I see many very old chairs built like that with 3/4″ thick pine seats (like a Moravian stool). The problem with that in your case is it wouldn’t quite look right and might detract from your case. Your solution is simple and keeps the focus on the case, where it should be.


    • Greg Merritt says:

      Thanks Brian. My first thought was to go with the batten method. I like the simple look of the slab though. Plus, the slab helps to solve the issue for a couple other projects that I have in mind.

  5. potomacker says:

    “So it will be easier to sharpen.”
    I’ve been using the LV reamer and tapered tenonmaker for a few months and certainly the sharpenability was a feature that appealed. Unfortunately the thin blade is not so easy to get sharp. How I wish that they had beefed up the blade. When you have experience with sharpening this tool, I hope you share.

    • Bob Easton says:

      If you wander back through Paul Sellers’ tool videos, you’ll find one about sharpening spokeshave blades. He used a simple stick of wood to which he can attach the blade for sharpening. It looks like that idea might work for the tenon maker’s blade.

    • Greg Merritt says:

      Yep, I have already began thinking of ways that I may be able to sharpen the reamer blade. I’ll put some of them to the test soon enough.

      For the tenon cutter…Bob’s suggestion is exactly what I plan to do.

  6. Bob Easton says:

    What a good use of that little stool. Well done!

  7. Derek Long says:

    The staked stool is a fantastic idea for the tansu stand. Looks good, too.

  8. Matt McGrane says:

    I was wondering about how well the stand would go with the tansu chest. But they look fine together. And it’ll keep it off your floor.

    I’ve been thinking about Schwarz’ new book, but I’ve recently gotten the Hayward “The Woodworker” books an “mortise and Tenon” magazine. Not sure I’ll have time to read any of them – LOL.

    • Greg Merritt says:

      Once I add a little decorative touches and some oil to bring out the colors, I think it will go with the tansu even better. At least I hope it will.

      I haven’t pulled the trigger on the “Mortise and Tennon” mag, but I do have the first two Hayward books. All I can say is WOW! Too much great info to process.

  9. Kinderhook88 says:

    This is seriously awesome! I’m stoked to try one of these staked projects!

  10. Quercus Robur says:

    Extremely informative and well presented as always, love your blog. I have both the book and the machinery, I have enough cutoffs that can be glued to match the task on hand, alas, time is scarce…

  11. Sylvain says:

    Very nice combination.
    It is so good that it doesn’t look as a first attempt.
    The laminated top is a great idea.
    For Stefan’s inquiry:
    look for “sightlines” on Peter Galbert’s blog “Chair Notes”

    • Greg Merritt says:

      Thanks Sylvain. The laminated top is just about the only viable option when dealing with home center lumber. Plus it’s nice and stable.
      My limited success with this initial project speaks to its simplicity. It does have the wheels turning on future projects though. Lots of possibilities…

  12. Dave G says:

    Hi Greg
    Glad to see you back making and posting.
    Another interesting technique.
    What are the benefits of the tapered Tenons over the parallel one with wedges as per Paul’s foot stool

    • Matt McGrane says:

      I was wondering the same thing. It seems to me that tapered wouldn’t be as strong as straight. Greg does mention wedging the tenons in this post. And there’s probably just as much glue area in both types.

    • Greg Merritt says:

      Almost out from under and back to normal. Looks like another week before it will all be behind me.
      The tapered tenon has several advantages over the cylindrical version. Also, wedges are driven into these legs to secure them too.
      1) Installs tight of its own accord due to the wedging nature.
      2) Easier to fit. The further you drive it in, the tighter it gets.
      3) Strong at the critical area where it enters the top board.
      4) Less chance of it loosening over time. Weight on the top board will continually push the tenon tighter.

      Both methods work, but the tapered tenon has a better chance of longevity IMHO. This is also the traditional tenon used by stick chair (i.e. Windsor chair) makers for centuries.

      Hope that answers your’s and Matt’s question.

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