Copying a mid-century stool….mid-14th century BCE
September 25, 2021 12:48 PM   Subscribe

Copying a mid-century stool….mid-14th century BCE -- in which brachiopod (self-described "hobbyist woodworker") builds a stunning replica of an ancient Egyptian stool and documents the process with many photographs and charming sketches. Well worth a look for woodworkers, but even non-woodworkers will enjoy the research and reverse-engineering involved. [via mefi projects]
posted by mpark (31 comments total) 65 users marked this as a favorite
That’s very handsome
posted by bq at 1:21 PM on September 25 [6 favorites]

beautiful! And very inspiring.
posted by mumimor at 1:32 PM on September 25

I admire the commitment to sticking to techniques contemporary to the original piece. Makes me really appreciate bandsaws.
posted by ursus_comiter at 1:34 PM on September 25 [1 favorite]

Nicely done!
posted by St. Oops at 1:42 PM on September 25

For one awful moment I thought this was going to be another poop post.

This was fascinating, and I appreciate all the explanation the author did about why the design details were the way they were to make the end product work. That looks like a pretty comfortable stool!
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:05 PM on September 25 [9 favorites]

For one awful moment I thought this was going to be another poop post.

It’s not by Wordshore….
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:14 PM on September 25 [2 favorites]

More seriously, fascinating!
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:14 PM on September 25

It’s not by Wordshore

Or Johnny Wallflower
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:22 PM on September 25 [2 favorites]

All that and not one photo of someone sitting on it?
posted by fings at 4:39 PM on September 25 [3 favorites]

I would also like to know how it feels to sit on! Can you wiggle about or lean forward? Or does it invite you to sit up straight and rest your hands on your knees?
posted by clew at 5:14 PM on September 25 [2 favorites]

looks really clean
posted by glonous keming at 5:51 PM on September 25

I loved his approach to doing it, and appreciate the write up. That looks like exceptionally nice work, with a very techniqual bent.
posted by porpoise at 5:57 PM on September 25

I love how much the craft of woodworking has remained largely unchanged for thousands of years up until the advent of power tools. This piece is beautiful, both in inspiration and execution!
posted by biogeo at 5:59 PM on September 25 [2 favorites]

One thing I find odd is that the execution appears to be staggeringly wasteful of material (I mean, I assume this is an intentional "feature" of the original given their wood sourcing arrangements at the time).

..which I guess I'm just curious about because I've spent a lot of time lately looking at Homo Erectus stone tools and one thing they're really good at is limiting the number of chips necessary to make a successful tool.

....If you can orient the stone this way, then one chip suffices for a thumb-grip, but if you don't then it's five....
posted by aramaic at 6:35 PM on September 25 [1 favorite]

For sure, aramaic. That was the point of high craft - he points out where the original/ original replica used slightly suboptimal pieces of wood and those flaws showed after all these years.

They found ideal grain in the wood and had to discard a great deal of material to retrieve the perfect piece within the wood.

As would befit a pharaoh.

There's the other side of this skill, in taking stock of available raw material and creating from what's available. But that ends up with a very different kind of aesthetic, like in driftwood work or "rustic."
posted by porpoise at 7:43 PM on September 25 [1 favorite]

I remember when the King Tut exhibit came to the Seattle Art Museum back in the 1970s. I went with my friend Jayne to see it. We were standing looking at a glass case containing a simple but elegantly painted high back wooden chair. An older couple came to look and the guy said Boy, they don't make furniture to last like that anymore! We both started choking from repressing our laughter and had to scurry off to cackle elsewhere. That became an eternal tagline for the both of us to this day.
posted by y2karl at 8:11 PM on September 25 [5 favorites]

That's gorgeous! And Thanks for documenting the process so well!
posted by twirlypen at 11:28 PM on September 25

Ohhhh so that's what Procreate is for
posted by infinitewindow at 12:19 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]

Thanks for all the kind comments. When I got home last night I was delighted to see this posted to the front page and even more pleased to get a sense that the drawing/explanation format seemed to be working. Also happy to find that other folks find the original piece to be as beautiful as I find it to be.

A couple of friends have sat on the stool and immediately assumed an “Egyptian” pose (hands on thighs). The high corners take a few minutes to get accustomed to but you can sit more casually if you swing 45 degrees. It feels more formal a than a low stool but without a back, not quite a chair. When COVID is over, it'll be interesting to see if anyone chooses to spend time on it in a social gathering.

It's hard to gauge how wasteful this design from our vantage point. Certainly the seat sides of this particular stool seem that way but the more Egyptian woodcraft I look at, the more I find that they used up every last knotty bit they had in one way or another. Even the bends, where the branches come off the tree were used as corner reinforcements for and chair backs and legs.

Yes, Procreate is fantastic. I did all the sketching in it.
posted by brachiopod at 5:58 AM on September 26 [22 favorites]

! Very cool, very interesting.
posted by From Bklyn at 10:30 AM on September 26

even more pleased to get a sense that the drawing/explanation format seemed to be working.

It's great! Except I'm not sure what the tennis ball on your bench is for.

Nice bit of work.
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:07 PM on September 26

I seriously thought this was going to be a wood carving of the other kind of stool
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:21 AM on September 27

This is really interesting. Thanks for the post!
posted by paperpete at 8:54 AM on September 27

Really enjoyed this. Beautiful work!
posted by obloquy at 5:39 PM on September 28

I'm having trouble building my own stools from found wood. The main issue is finding a convenient way to rip a 2x4 (or similar shape) down to a dowel to shape into the leg. There's got to be a better way than a ton of rip cuts, right? So tiring!
posted by rebent at 12:39 PM on September 30

You could use a draw knife or a spokeshave, but that's probably no less tiring.
posted by biogeo at 3:14 PM on September 30

I really enjoyed reading this, and the work is amazing.
posted by mixedmetaphors at 3:37 PM on September 30

rebent - just rip things square and get a cheap wooden scrub plane off eBay. It'll knock down the corners of things and taper them faster than sawing.
posted by brachiopod at 5:53 PM on September 30 [3 favorites]

This is incredible work, but childish old me is cackling over “BUM FORCE
posted by scruss at 8:25 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]

So beautiful, brachiopod, and your comment answers my biggest question looking at the pictures, which was whether it was designed to be sat on square on, with both legs in the same curve, or at an angle with the corner between your legs - the latter seems like it would be more comfortable, with each leg getting its own curve to rest on?
posted by penguin pie at 4:59 PM on October 9

I was looking up Chinese-style wood planes, and I stumbled across John Z Zhu's video detailing his making of a traditional Chinese frame-saw, including, for some reason, making a frame saw-blade from spring-steel. (Which it never occurred to me that one could do.)

Zhu, a US-based amateur, was following Quansheng Xin's more adept (if untranslated) video where Xin makes a Chinese frame-saw.

Xin's a master cabinetmaker and teacher working in the Chinese tradition. He's got a lot of videos, some translated, most not.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:03 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]

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