The Simple but Ubiquitous 3 Legged Stool


I created my first 3-legged stool over 25 years ago. It was turned from poplar on an ancient Craftsmen lathe that my dad had bought for me some 25 years earlier. It was and still is “ugly” from a modern woodturning perspective, but it is still functional, still together and still in use in my shop. Built in the classic style with “Windsor” like legs wedge set into the seat it is strong solid and utilitarian. What a great weekend project that requires both faceplate and spindle work and offers many learning experiences for turners at any level.

A Simple Process

A simple stool involves only 2 basic components; a seat and three matching legs. The 3-legged stool is also known as a milking stool. Very stable even on uneven ground. For turning stock almost any hardwood will work; poplar, maple, and walnut are all good choices. If this is your first venture into stool construction poplar is a great choice, Inexpensive, turns well is paintable and stainable. A basic milking stool has a seat that is approximately 10″ in diameter and 10″ tall. 8/4 stock is perfect for both the seat and the legs and can be from S4S kiln dried lumber or rived from a log.

Get Started

Next time we will start with turning the seat of our stool. The seat of the stool is the most visible component yet is the simplest form with gentle curves and a slight “dish” in the top for comfort. Turning the seat will involve using a faceplate or chuck screw. Depending on the effects desired more sophisticated techniques such as vacuum chucks and large chuck jaws can be employed to hide the fact that the seat was ever on a lathe. This might lead to interesting discussion about how the seat was turned if no visible evidence remains.

Thanks for viewing.
Till next time.

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