At the beginning of 2020, I was approached by Shaper Tools, the company behind Origin, the world's first handheld augmented reality-aided CNC machine. A computer numerical control router – CNC for short. This commission led to the design of the Bundle Trestle, but in the process, also another product was developed: 'The Shop Stool'. Again to become part of their premium projects, an online platform where Origin users can buy project plans created by designers to execute themselves.
As I grew more familiar with the capabilities of Origin I realised the potential for intricate and complicated wood joints. Traditionally it would take someone years to master the skills to produce precision joints, now you can use a handheld CNC router to do all the hard work for you. I wanted to celebrate this and as I was sitting on an old workshop stool while operating the Origin, I thought what better brief to set myself than to design a new Shop Stool.
Through a process of sketching, prototyping, and computer modeling I developed a joint, locking 3 beams each in different planes together. This allowed me to design a three-legged triangular base supporting a simple seat with a cutout giving the stool a direction. The distinctive dog bone plug is an intended result of the CNC machining process. However, it also takes inspiration from traditional decorative bow tie inserts, merging visual tradition with contemporary techniques.
To understand how the Shop Stool is made I have to explain how Origin works, Essentially it’s a handheld CNC router but it’s more like ‘autocorrect for your hands’. You do the course motions by sliding the router around and then the spindle does the fine motions to adjust to the drawing file. The machine locates itself on the workpiece due to a specially developed tape that you stick down on the wood you would like to mill.
There are 3 triangles each comprising of 3 pieces, there are three legs and a seat. All these pieces are held together by 6 dogbone-like inserts forming a specially developed decorative joint. What makes this joint special is that all the cutting actions can be done without turning over the timber you milling or changing the tools. Once all the pieces are cut, the stool is easily assembled and with the help of a little wood glue forms a surprisingly strong and stable piece of furniture.
I developed this Stool in my workshop making multiple stools and joint prototypes to use and test. The result is a piece of furniture that takes a place of price in my workshop. I hope that other makers around the world will experience the same joy in the process of making their Shop Stool.