Fireside Stool

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Concealed wedged-tenons add behind-the-scenes strength

Historical, utilitarian furniture is one of my favorite sources for design inspiration, and the vernacular fireside stools of Northern Europe are especially appealing for their dainty yet sturdy stances. Traditionally used as a perch for creeping close to the warmth of a hearth or tending to a fire, these simple stools’ short stature and splayed legs pack a lot of character and woodworking skills into a quick project. 

My take on these fireside stools features a thick seat with chunky legs attached via fox-wedge joints. I wanted to use a connection that would be as strong as a classic through wedged tenon joint, but with a clean look that doesn’t call attention to itself. The fox wedge is a blind joint with a wedge hidden inside. During final assembly, you gently pre-load the wedge into the tenon part-way, and then drive the tenon into the mortise. As the wedge hits the bottom of the mortise, it is driven further into the tenon, causing the tenon to flare and lock the joint. But beware. If the wedge is too large, or if it breaks inside the joint as you hammer it in, the tenon will get stuck and never fully seat. Exciting, right?

Fox-wedge joints can be intimidating, particularly if they are part of a larger project that you’ve put months of time into. This quick little stool is a low-risk, high reward setting for learning and practicing a powerful, hidden joint.

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