Brad Smith: Story of a Stool
The timberframe shop Brad Smith built himself in Southeastern Pennsylvania is teeming with the ingenious jigs, fixtures and approaches to work that he has developed over the past twenty-five years building his line of farm-inspired furniture. Smith and several assistants produce hundreds of pieces each year–from his signature stools and benches with axe-handle legs to beds and tables. This audio slide show follows Smith as he builds a stool, and it highlights an array of the clever yet straightforward jigs that enable him to work so quickly and efficiently.
Smith, who was drawn to making things in wood as a boy growing up on a farm, went on to study furnituremaking at the School for American Craftsmen at Rochester Institute of Technology. His teachers there were Bill Keyser and Doug Sigler, and Sigler emphasized the need for students to make a practical business plan before launching into furnituremaking full time. In response, Smith decided to come up with a line of furniture that could be made with off-the-shelf parts. He found that axe-handles made great stool legs, and the character they gave his first pieces inspired him to design a whole line around them.