Folding Stool, Egypt, 2000 BCE
The ancient Egyptian folding stool, which dates from the Middle Kingdom, had a practical, light seat attached on two sides, was easily portable, and therefore in general use. The model for my project is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It is without a back, with its legs crossing instead of being perpendicular.
Method of Construction
Constructed by: Susanna Morgan ’98
I constructed my folding stool from a piece of cherry wood, chosen for its strength and the beauty of its color and grain. The size, approximately 10 feet long, 2 inches thick, and 1 foot across, was based on estimates for the finished size of the stool. After making a list of components, a design was decided upon, based on the original. We (Greg and I) decided to make this one a bit more decorative than the original, that is, to make the corners more rounded and to give the legs more of a curve. Next we cut the board into more manageable halves using the band saw and the table saw. The electric sander and planer were then used to achieve a smooth and fairly even surface. I cut the design, which was traced in pencil onto the wood, using the band saw. First, though, I cut the tenons on the legs to fit into the mortises on the stretchers and seating rails. The stretchers and seating rails were the also cut. The electric wheel sander helped smooth out the shapes and round and soften the edges. Next, the stretchers and seating rails were mortised using a machine. The tenons were sanded accordingly, to make a perfect fit. This was followed by another round of sanding. I cut two steel pins using a handsaw to join legs at the crossing point. Holes were drilled at that point, going most of the way but not all the way through the wood, so that the pins would not be visible. The mortises and tenons were then glued in place for even more stability, being held during the drying time by clamps. Having now two sets of legs, rails, and stretchers fully assembled, the two were joined together with the steel pins. A white canvas duck cloth was then doubled, stitched, and nailed onto the frame with upholstery tack, completing the project. Actually the real completion was when I sat on the stool for the first time to discover, to my joy, that it was weight bearing and therefore functional.
Folding chair at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City; also Ancient Furniture: A History of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Furniture. (The Greeks based their adaptation on the Egyptian original).