I am making a little stool for Sierra, seven years old. She is our granddaughter #2, the guitar player. Her instructor suggested she use a stool to sit during her guitar lesson sessions. This new stool will replace one I made her about a year ago; the old one I made in a hurry, using pocket screw joinery, too narrow and thus unstable, even if only 12 inches tall.
I admit I screwed up when I made the old stool. I did not use any stretchers on the legs, and one of the legs failed at one of the pocket screws. I already apologized to Sierra for this failure – MY fault! The fact that it lasted almost a year is a tribute to pocket hole joinery, as my job on that one was quite poor.
For the new stool I pulled all the stops: The wood is cherry; I am using mortise and tenon joinery, 1-1/2-inch thick legs, proper stretchers between the legs, and a 1-inch thick top. And, to dress the aprons, a narrow groove or a bead of some sort. The plain aprons just looked too blah! even in cherry; just plain and blah!
I remembered my super-cheap set of router bits bought at a clearance sale via mail order; maybe a Vee bit might give me a small enough feature near the bottom edge of the aprons? It turned out too wide, with a flat bottom in the vee. It actually looks like this: \_/ ; no kidding! So, scrap that one.
What I really wanted for the aprons was a bead with a skinny edge, just like on old furniture. I am sure there is a name for that type of bead, and I just don’t know it. I struggled with how to make something like this, until the proverbial light went on last night: About three weeks ago I went to an antique hand tool auction SW of Kansas City, where I bought several items; among them was a Stanley 66 beading tool:
BINGO! Problem solved. Not only perfect timing, but the perfect tool rescued, and used on this little stool. I had to sharpen the cutter; I also put the sole of the 66 on the belt sander, and in about 10 minutes I made some test passes on a piece of scrap cherry. Then I went to work, and made the beads on the aprons. The results are terrific – I just don’t have a power tool that can replicate the look of this bead on the aprons.
More and more I use my hand tools to get the job done on these little details. I find them pleasingly quiet, and I love them!
If you are more inclined to go with newer tools, with all their cutters, you might be interested in looking at the Lie-Nielsen bronze beading tool version of the Stanley 66 that Woodcraft sells:
Lie-Nielsen’s bronze version
of the Stanley 66 at Woodcraft: