Stephen's Step Stool: Part V
With the entire step stool now glued up I realized I hadn’t cut feet yet. I took my Lee Valley Drawing Bow and marked out a subtle curve in the middle of each leg. Once I cut out the curve with a jig saw, it left two (2) feet on each leg.
Now with feet I took the step stool over to my router table. After the nasty incident with my neighbor during this stage of my last project, I setup my router table inside this time.
I removed the fence and used a bearing guided ¼” radius roundover bit, I ran every reachable edge of the stool (except the bottom) over it. This method took a bit of getting used too. With a bit of practice I soon found it easy as the stool is not so big as to hang completely off the router table yet is big enough to provide plenty of reference and holding surface.
Fresh off the router table the stool (or any piece having this roundover method used) is rounded, but not done. The routed curves on the edges are hard, disjointed and where they do flow into each other they have a shallow, machine cut look. I only use the router to hog off most of the waste, not to provide my final edges. After routing it is time for rasping.
As I’ve grown to enjoy the process and results of using rasps, my collection of rasps has grown. As I’ve used them more and more, favorites have emerged and others have fallen out of use. On Stephen’s Step Stool I did all my initial rasping using my Shinto 9” rasp. Though amazingly cheap, the woven blade is exceptional at coarse and medium rasping with efficient chip removal. Unlike other cheap rasps I’ve used, the Shinto does not leave tooth tracks (due to the woven blade).
Next I used my Auriou #9 Cabinet Makers rasp. The Auriou further refines the curves while taking the coarse surface left by the Shinto and smoothing it to a much more consistent surface. Finally I used my new Gramercy 5” 25 tpi cabinet makers rasp. This Gramercy is delightfully light and leaves a very smooth surface (for a rasp).
With all the rasp work I do my goal is to further refine and flair the curves. I want them be organic, flowing and invite touch.
As transformative as the rasps are, even fine rasps leave a surface too coarse for finish. When I’m done with the rasps I switch to my Rotex sanders. I use an RO 125 and an RO 90. When setup on Rotex mode with an 80 or 120 grit sanding pad and set to speed 1, they do a wonderful job of removing the rasping marks. They also use the Festool Interface pads which allow the sanders to wrap the rounded edges and prevent flattening.
After sanding the curved edges I added blue Transtint dye to 5-minute epoxy and filled in the few big gaps in the dovetails. Once the epoxy was dry I took out the sanders again, this time sanding the entire stool. I currently sand up through 220 grit, though I’m not completely satisfied with my sanding results. I’m not sure what changes I’ll make, but I’m considering going much higher in grit.
Find all of the Step Stool posts here.
Don't forget about the +Modern Woodworkers Association Podcast. We talk woodworking with Guests from around the world of woodworking every other week. Subscribe to the RSS feed or iTunes today.