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Just finished a pair of bar stools for clients, and thought I would share my thoughts here. The clients gave clear instructions on what they wanted - a pair of bar stools exactly like the ones in the web page they provided.

The stools in question weren't cheap, but not ridiculously expensive either. The reason they asked me to make them is that the online seller had no stock left of the mass produced stools, but they thought I could make them some replicas.

So I made them - the sizes were supplied by the manufacturer so the new stools are made exactly the same size. But then I looked closer at the web page photos, and saw things I didn't like. The mass produced stools had seats made of laminated block board. Still solid wood, but not a single board. A board comprising of several planks all glued together. Hmmmm - not a material I want to work with. And the seat was flat - not saddled and shaped to fit your bum. Didn't look that comfy to sit on to me. The stools were made of wood, but it looked like softwood - pale, featureless and not that durable. Then there was the fact that the stools were held together with screws....

If I make something I would like it to be as good as it can be. The new stools were exactly the same as the mass produced ones, except for a few special features. Firstly they are solid English oak. Secondly they are made by hand using traditional joinery - no screws or bolts required. Thirdly the seats are made of a single oak plank. Forthly, I saddled the seats, making them shaped to fit your buttocks. And finally, I added my own signature of walnut-wedged tenons in the spindle tops. Something which is not required, but shows the craft and care the furniture has been made with.

The new stools cost a few hundred quid more than mass produced versions, but are simply better in every way and should last a lifetime or two of use. And they are so comfortable that during 'testing' I nearly dropped off to sleep in one..... Sometimes it's worth paying a bit extra to get something truly worth the money.

The non-mass produced version of the stools

Walnut spindle wedges - all aligned to point to the same point in the front centre of the seat (a small detail, but an important one!)


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