I've built a lot of tables. Big tables. Small tables. Wide tables. Narrow tables. Tall tables. Short tables.
I've never - ever - built anything that would allow a person to actually sit at any of these tables. I wanted to change that.
I also wanted to build something that would allow me to do some welding and get rid of some of the reclaimed wood I've been hoarding. The end result: two stools, that - in the right setting - could probably work just fine in a bar or a shop or at a kitchen island, breakfast bar or dining table.
Anyhow...the wood came from this place, a house built in 1886 in the Fox Park Neighborhood in St. Louis, MO. I've written about it before, but I definitely like being able to point out a given batch of reclaimed wood's history.
The steel is just your run-of-the-mill 1" square tube that I got from my favorite steel yard, Shapiro Metal Supply. They've got a shop dog that splits its time between keeping an eye on the operation and riding around in a golf cart, which is always kind of an entertaining side note on any trip to Shapiro.
It took me forever to get the welder dialed in - I've never welded 1/16" steel before - and for the first...I dunno...unhealthy amount of time...I pretty much either cooked holes right through the steel or couldn't get an arc. It was either or, with no middle ground. The welder's factory recommended settings led to the non-arc situation. My guesswork led to the steel-melting situation. Ultimately, I found a good setup: juice maxed out, wire feed rate about a 5 (on a 1-8 scale)...and just move **quickly**. It turned out to be a good exercise; there was a very, very fine line between getting rock solid welds and turning square steel tube into liquid.
Carving the seats was a lot of fun. I'm not going to lie to anybody, my angle grinder is a $15 Harbor Freight job, and the carbide cutting cup came from the same place (I have a HF maybe 2 miles from my house; I don't go there often, but it's not horrible for oddball tools you might only use a few times a year, or something you're not sure if you'll enjoy using/doing), so the seat-carving definitely didn't require any high-end tools. But, as something I'd never done before, I think it went pretty well.
The real challenge was in gauging how much material I was removing, 'cause that spinning carbide blade had ZERO problems cutting away pine that had last seen the light of day in the 19th century. One can normally base any angle grinder activity on resistance of the material being shaped, but when there's literally none...well, it wasn't too tough to really gouge the wood in this case so I had to be extra careful. Fortunately, I was able to accomplish my goal: carve away a decent place for one's butt - getting down to fresh lumber - while leaving the patina and character of the original wood surface on the perimeter.
I think the design can be improved upon, but given how many "firsts" for me were involved in this project, I'm pretty happy with the results. And maybe now I'll be able to use my dining room table as a place to eat things, as opposed to the mail station and shipping department.