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Build It | CNC Built Stool

Ask This Old House general contractor Tom Silva travels to a workshop in San Francisco to build a stool using computer-based tools.

Building a CNC stool

  1. When using computerized equipment, begin by designing the finished piece using a 3D CAD program.
  2. A laser printer is often used for etching metal and glass, but it can also be used for making a physical model using plywood.
  3. A 3D printer can prototype smaller sections of the design, like where two joints come together and how stock hardware interfaces with the 3D model.
  4. A water jet uses a high-pressure stream of water mixed with garnet to cut the aluminum legs and base, including countersinks, mortises, and tenons.
  5. A CNC router can mill the wood top using several different cutter heads.
  6. The final assembly takes place by hand.


Tom visited Autodesk at Pier 9. The stool he built was based on a design by Matt Hutchinson, a designer at PATH.