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Woodworking with Diego de Assis


Tage Frid in Brazil by Diego de Assis

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Diego de Assis



Of the woodworking projects we’ve completed in our school, this was surely one of the more sophisticated in design and construction techniques. It was quite a challenge to make a piece of Tage Frid’s furniture.

It took time and effort to be faithful to the original project from start to finish, and there were periods of hard work and frustration. Tage Frid, an icon of American woodworking, used a variety of traditional and modern techniques, and his students could work in any type of shop.

His Scandinavian approach to design was bold but with careful attention to detail. The form, function, and proportions are all well thought out. As Frid wrote: “I think that proportions—the correct relationship among dimensions—is the most difficult thing to learn.

Many of my students have the same problem. Inappropriate proportions can ruin a good design.” (Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking – Furnituremaking, Taunton, pg. 145)

By walking in the footsteps of this old master we produced good results, following Frid’s own description of the project. We could imagine the privilege of those who had him as a teacher.

In this article I show the construction of the three-legged stool, from Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking – Furnituremaking, Taunton Press, p. 145–154, assisted by my student Eduardo Serra, an architect and amateur woodworker.

Tage Frid (1915-2004) was a well-known furniture maker, designer, and teacher, and served as a contributing editor to Fine Woodworking magazine from issue #1 through #171. He is also the author of the classic series of books Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking, published by The Taunton Press.

Back cover photo from Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking.

A native of Denmark, Frid apprenticed to a master craftsman named Gronlund Jensen beginning at the age of 13. Five years later he was awarded journeyman status. He continued to pursue a university degree in interior architecture while working in a cabinet shop and building furniture in his trademark Danish-modern style. In 1948 Frid moved to the United States to take a job teaching woodworking at the School for American Craftsmen, first at Alfred University and then later at Rochester Institute of Technology. Then in 1962 Frid launched the first college-level program in woodworking and furniture design at Rhode Island School of Design, where his influence flourished for the next quarter century.

Source: http://www.finewoodworking.com/community/artistprofile.aspx?id=1094

The Three-Legged Stool

Created in 1982, the original was done in walnut. Frid made three versions of this stool, changing only the length of the legs.

He criticized the design of the usual three-legged stool as dangerous. If a person seated on it leaned to one side, it could tip and fall. In his design Frid avoided that problem with his “T”-shaped seat. “The T-shaped seat counters the tendency of the stool to tip, because there is no place on the back part of the seat to push it out of balance. The weight of the body is over the two front legs, resulting in a stable three-legged stool.” (Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking – Furnituremaking. pg. 145)

Photo from Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking Set: Three Step-By-Step Guidebooks to Essential Woodworking Techniques.

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