One of my first posts this semester was about a stool I built a few years ago, my first attempt at a fine woodworking project. In the years since then, I have come a long way in building my woodworking experience and skill set. Here at school, though, there aren’t too many opportunities to do woodworking. My skill set has stopped improving, and there are lots of ideas brewing in my head. So, I decided to tackle one of the shortcomings of my dorm room over Thanksgiving break because I was so looking forward to making use of my time at home with my tools. The room has some rather tall shelves in one corner. They offer plenty of storage space but are just a little too tall to reach comfortably, especially for someone of below average height like me. I got frustrated with having to carry my chair over to the shelves to use it to give me a boost. That is so minor a complaint, something I could so easily deal with, but I got to dreaming. My vision was relatively basic, and fit the general concept of a stool. I saw four legs connected by horizontal pieces that supported a top. But I began to refine my design from there. I have reached a point where my woodworking is no longer defined by rigid plans and copycat ideas; although, like everyone else, I am certainly inspired by the work of others. In this case, I thought back to an article I read in a magazine a few years ago about building a table with a so-called “floating top.” The top would only appear to float, of course. The illusion happens because the support is directly under the middle of the top, meaning that the top is not supported around the perimeter of the piece as is typical with table-esque structures. I was excited about the idea at the time I first saw it and with the stool had an opportunity to try it out with my own twists. I started the construction process over the Thanksgiving break but only got through the milling and dimensioning of the lumber before I ran out of time. Come Christmas the pieces were ready for me, though, and I had a more refined design concept in my head. I decided that even though a stool is a very utilitarian object, and one that gets stepped on and kicked and carried around all the time, I wanted it to have visual appeal. I selected one of my nicer pieces of cherry with nice bands of sapwood and glued it together to create a beautiful top. I also decided to indent the corners of the top so that the tops of the legs could be more visible, and I cut a significant bevel on the underside of the top. Less visibly, the legs and stretchers are joined with fairly complicated mortise and tenon joints, and the floating top is supported by three cross pieces that fit with sliding dovetails into the frame. That’s a lot of woodworking terminology in one place, but what it boils down to is that I was able to pack a lot of skills into a very small project, and by focusing on making them to the best of my ability the stool is rock solid as well as being easy on the eyes. This stool represents the progress I’ve made in woodworking since I made that first stool. With this one, I not only proved my ability to make something to fulfill a practical purpose for my own benefit (as I was able to do before), but I was also able to benefit my someone else (my roommate) with what I made, both practically and beautifully. The sense of self-sufficiency that comes with that is wonderful.