Introduction: Curvy Plywood Stools
Pair of stools made from nothing but plywood, just look at those sexy curves! Each of these stools was made from a single sheet of 3/4" 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. It was a fun, yet extremely dusty process. And yes, these seats are incredibly comfortable!
Step 1: Breaking Down the Sheets
I started with a full sheet for each stool. I had to cut some strips off of the sheet with a circular saw and fence to get it small enough to fit down into the shop. The majority of the strips were 2" wide for the sides and the shelf with a handfull of 3" strips for the seat of the stool. I completed cutting the strips on the table saw.
Step 2: Cutting the Pieces
3° was the magic number! I turned all of those strips into 160 individual pieces...this took a while. I did a sketch in AutoCAD to determine the dimensions of each piece - each layer is made of just 5 different piece that are the same at each layer (they are just alternated, which you will see in the next step).
Step 3: Assembling
The first layer was the hardest, you have to get the shape of it perfect at this point and build from that. Then after the initial layer, it is just a giant glue and wood sandwich. Yum! And wood and glue and wood and glue...
I tack the pieces with brads as I go to keep everything aligned. The final pieces are clamped to avoid any exposed fasteners. The clamps also pull the sandwich together.
Step 4: Flattening
I left the corner pieces a little long so I can cut them off later. Sawzall and furniture? Of coarse! After that it's just a bunch of sanding to get all of the sides flat.
Step 5: Rounding the Corners
I cut the corners off of the top of the stools and then rounded each over with the belt sander.
Step 6: Flattening the Feet
I used a square to draw a straight line across the two legs parallel to the "shelf" - this determines the bottom of the legs. I square them across the width and cut them to length with a circular saw.
Step 7: Shaping the Sides
Once everything is sanded smooth, I round the corners. I also cut an arc on each side of the stool to give it it's 4 feet.
It is at this point that I decide to give the stools some more shape. 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. (that cut is not for the faint of heart, don't attempt unless you are really comfortable with your saw)
I then sand the hard corners round with the belt sander.
Step 8: Shaping the Seat
I created a little jig to cut out the "butt profile" for the seat. The jig is made from a few pieces of plywood and 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. This was all done using 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!
Step 9: Final Curves
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.
Step 10: Finish
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!
Step 11: Timelapse and Glamour Shots
And then the obligatory trip for photos and, of coarse, timelapses! This time North Boston is the winning location.
I picked this spot for the great sunset but also for the awesome contrast between the light poplar wood and the dark, wet rocks.
And there you have the Certifiably Crazy, Curvy, and Circumlocutious stools!
Now can anyone use some sawdust?
Step 12: Done!
Hopefully this inspires you to go and create something with your hands, maybe even a crazy curvy plywood stool! I'd love to see it if you do, thanks for stopping by.
►Build video here: https://youtu.be/JkDYR7oUxt0
►See more on my YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/JackmanCarpentry
►See more on my website: http://www.jackmanworks.com