No one really knows who first invented the bar stool, but it has probably been one of the most widely used seats, for thousands of years. Many believe that the earliest form was a simple wood top with three wooden legs most likely used in China, Egypt or Greece around 200 BC. One of the most famous and expensive stools dates back to 1695, and was the stool of the Asante Kings of Ghana, said to have come down from the heavens. The most basic model used was to provide a person with a place to rest their legs and take a seat. In early America, these three legged stools were used by American farmers to milk their cows, and women used them to put on their make-up. The stationary round top gave way to the swivel stool used by piano players in the 1800’s.
While the original bar stools were very simple pieces of necessary furniture, it probably wasn’t expected that they would evolve to become the seat of choice by many today. Bar stools became very popular in the 1950’s and 1960’s and could be found in nearly every corner tavern and restaurant. Their round top and base allowed stools to be stacked out of the way, and because a round stool takes up less room than a chair, they often became the seat of choice in many establishments. It wasn’t long before the wood stool was replaced with steel used both for the legs, as well as the top. A round steel flat bar would be rolled to a specific diameter with a piece of wood and a soft cushion placed on top. The legs of the stool are supported by a rolled steel tube or bar.
The most common size rings came from a 3/4” to 1” diameter tube. These rings were rolled to diameters ranging from 12” to 24”. These rolled steel rings not only support the legs and frame of the stool structure, but they also give your feet a place to rest. Rings are strategically placed about 12” from the floor, providing a place for your heel to catch the ring at a comfortable height.
Rolled tube rings can be made out of aluminum, carbon steel or stainless depending on the look of the stool. Stools can range in price from over a thousand dollars apiece, to less than one hundred depending on the materials used, or if a designer has their name attached to it. The Createch stool below has 3 rings. A base ring, a foot rest ring and a ring for the cushion to be mounted upon. Often stools will use a flat bar stock rolled the hardway, with holes punched to hold a wood top with fabric. Another option is to use a piece of angle iron, rolled the easy way, mounting the cushion on the face of the angle.
With the resurgence in the 1950’s, barstools are now found in a variety of shapes, sizes, materials and colors. Stools are found in homes, patios, bars, restaurants and almost anywhere that a seat is needed. Using the metal ring foundation is paramount in providing a sturdy foundation to sit upon in any application. Recently, a special project involved providing a part for rebuilding an authentic Captain’s chair for the renovation of the Battleship USS North Carolina. While not quite a bar stool, the design did call for rolling 1.25” tubing to form a ring for the footrest, sharing that common feature.