My grandfather used to make portable stools from a couple of thin pieces of wood that tied together with a simple string. Growing up we usually had a couple of these “tie stools” conveniently stashed around the house, and we always got them out for backyard barbecues and took them with us when we went camping.
Although my woodworking skills are nowhere near what my grandfather’s were, we’ve been inspired by that stool to play around with making small, lightweight furniture that can be disassembled, stacked flat and tied together for easy transport. My first try was pretty wobbly, and felt like a little twist would splinter it. A couple of revisions later, I have a reasonably sturdy stool that is held together with a nylon strap. The leg pieces are notched on the sides so that when they are stacked together, the strap on the seat piece can be used to hold all the pieces together. There are handles cut into the leg pieces as well for easy carrying.
While plywood is inexpensive and a reasonable material for prototyping, miniatures in paperboard are much faster to make and are a pretty good analog for the behavior of the wood.
These are the individual parts of the version on the left, the one that is too wobbly for a stool. It has too much rotational freedom and wants to twist when you put a lot weight on it. However, it makes a fine end table for your camping ware. It has notches to accommodate the strap when it’s stacked for packing, and handles to make it easy to carry.
The middle stool is waiting to be made into a wooden version; it feels pretty good in paperboard with a dental floss strap. It’s a little more complicated, with four intersecting legs at an angle.
We’d love to hear about any other classic designs you think should be remade.