Decoding Tallon’s Iconic Folding Stools to DIY

One of our most popular posts over the years is Hangable, Folding Stools and Chairs, about seventies industrial designer Roger Tallon’s brilliant stools and chairs that fold flat to hang on a wall.  We first saw them at Lydia Wills’ apartment, above. We’ve received numerous emails from people looking to buy or make the ingenious design. And although they are occasionally available on Ebay and vintage sites like Pamono for $150 to $500 a pair, we have yet to find any source fabricating the licensed design.

But we DID figure out a DIY approach that would make for endlessly useful stool/side-table OR enlarged to make a cool folding table:

tallon stool + table

Making the stool yourself requires careful analysis of how it is made and the hinged hardware that allows the stool to fold. We blew up images so you could take a close look.

Roger Tallon folding stool underside

Roger Tallon folding stool 2

When you look closely at the stool, you see that is constructed of three main parts:
—The round seat (with hold for hanging)
—One rectangular leg that fits into a squared-off U-shaped leg.
—Squared-off U-shaped leg (made of three pieces of wood, or cut from a single sheet)

Roger Tallon stool dtl

This plan of a Roger Tallon Folding Chair gives a sense of how the stool is put together; its folding, flat-pack legs that fit together like a puzzle.

Roger Tallon chair plan 2

Searching folding stool plans at the U.S. Patent Office can yield some interesting designs and ideas for hinging hardware… Check out what you find when you google U.S. Patent office folding stool plans

google.com

google.com

From the two sets of images below, it looks like the hardware changed over time. There are four hinges attaching the legs to the seat…

very_rare_roger_tallon_beach_folding_stools_1970__from_frank_lloyd_wright_house_4_lgw-1

…as well as a rod that runs through the two leg pieces, allowing them to pivot securely about mid-way.

2 black Roger Tallon stools

Our approach would be to make a life-size prototype out of Foam Core to figure out the dimensions and mechanisms.

Then we’d hunt for the hardware, especially those unique hinges, which are the key. We’d take or send a couple of the images to places that send unique furniture hardware.

If we couldn’t find the hinges, we might approach it the way Laney Shaughnessy did in his 2-part stool tutorial on YouTube (we’d streamline his design and remove the unnecessary footrests).

About halfway through part 2 (at about 16:00 in), you can see the hinging mechanism he made of wood.

Even simpler, is the very loud Bob’s folding stool with piano-hinge legs seen in this video.

9 Responses to Decoding Tallon’s Iconic Folding Stools to DIY

  1. Jim DIllon 07.21.2016 at 7:38am #

    This makes me wish I had a little free time! I’ll add an item to my someday/maybe file.

  2. Sally Schneider 07.21.2016 at 10:41am #

    The stools are really wonderful. And as you can see, they can be scaled up to make a table.
    Any ideas where we might find those unique hinges for the legs?

  3. Jim Dillon 07.22.2016 at 7:58am #

    Sally, sorry but no, I have no idea about where to purchase the hardware, and that is a major part of why this design appeals to me! It looks like the hardware could be fabricated fairly simply with a hacksaw and a drill press and a vise. The point where the legs cross each other, as shown, would involve using a router to cut a slot in one leg for the pin in the other leg to slide along in. But maybe one could build up the edges of that slot rather than cut them into a solid leg . . . this is why I wish I had some free time. I would like to play around with the concept so it would be in the reach of people without routers and drill presses to build, like all those wonderful designs in Nomadic Furniture.

  4. Jim Dillon 07.22.2016 at 8:14am #

    Oh wait. I just remembered where I have seen similar hardware. Futons. These might be at a bigger scale than you want but they should work. No endorsement of these retailers implied, these are simply the first two that popped up on Google. One good supplier I do like, Rockler, also has them but only as a kit along with plans for a futon sofa. 1) http://futonplanet.com/replacement-parts/single-sided-plastic-futon-roller/
    2) http://www.futons.net/Futon-Parts.aspx

  5. Jim Dillon 07.23.2016 at 11:54am #

    On further consideration, it looks like the hardware for futons.

  6. Sally Schneider 07.23.2016 at 4:24pm #

    Hi Jim, I actually sent Rockler pictures to their virtual hotline but no one responded. I was looking for the piece that connects the legs to the seat, which looks like a hinging mechanism to me. I don’t get where the futon part would go in. I think I’m missing something.

  7. Jim Dillon 07.24.2016 at 8:56am #

    Sally, in the second photo in your post, of the newer version of the stool, you can see a little plastic roller where the legs cross each other. It looks just like the roller that lets your futon fold up to sofa position. For the pivot where the legs cross, I suspect a plain old butt hinge would work but be ugly, and what was used originally would have been a brass pin going across the top of the leg and through a brass block mounted to the top. If you know someone who can weld or braze, you could weld a nut to the top of a wood screw and drive the screw into the seat of the stool until it’s almost all the way in and the hole through the nut is aligned with the pin in the leg. I’m tempted to stop by our Ace and see which metal rods fit through which nuts. I’d probably start out trying a 1/4″ rod through a 5/16″ nut.

  8. Jim Dillon 11.18.2016 at 12:11pm #

    Okay! I finally took the time to figure out hardware for the pivoting joint. It can be done with eye screws and a bolt (or threaded rod, or “drill rod”) and a few basic woodworking tools. Next I’ll figure out the futon-slider-thingy.
    Anyway, here’s the pivot: http://thousanddollarshop.blogspot.com/2016/11/pivoting-joint-for-folding-furniture.html

  9. Sally Schneider 11.20.2016 at 12:28pm #

    WOW, Jim. Your solution is inspired: so simple, doable, original; I love the thinking and especially that you took up the challenge to try to figure out that unfindable hinge that Tallon used. And you did (with gif!) We/YOU are halfway there to copying the wonderful Tallon Stool. AND I deeply appreciate your word about Improvised Life. Your Thousand Dollar Shop blog is worth its weight in gold. Thank you!

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