side profile of the bowback seat and rail in walnut

“Hang On!”

The inspiration for the Bowback Stool

 

On a hazy morning, in the early 1950s, with an ocherous sun rising above fields of dew-drenched corn, Tom and his cousin tore down a dirt road on a 1945 Harley Davidson Knucklehead motorcycle. As a kid from the city, Tom relished the weeks he spent out on his Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Wisconsin during the summer. Tom’s younger cousin, Walter, as he recalls, was a “wild kid.” The two of them would spend their mornings blazing past neighboring farms on their way into town to run errands for his Aunt.

1945 harley davidson motorcycle

 

 

“Walter would let ‘er rip. It seemed like we were going 100 miles per hour down these dirt roads, and it would scare the living daylights out of me.” -Tom Moser

 

 

Reminiscing on the days of riding the motorcycle with his cousin, Tom says, “Walter would let ‘er rip. It seemed like we were going 100 miles per hour down these dirt roads, and it would scare the living daylights out of me. I’d wrap one arm around his torso and my other hand, white-knuckled, grasping the chrome panic bar. I finally convinced Walter to let me drive the bike one day, and I was even worse. We had a hell of a time on that thing.”

 

 

Bowback stool in finishing and 1945 Harley Davidson Seat

 

 

Like the Harley and Davidson families, Tom and his cousin Walter were enchanted by new forms of transportation. Tom, no stranger to crafting, even from a young age, says,” I always felt a compulsion to build and create something real and physical with my hands, and I was always drawing and sketching on any paper I could find. I built a glider out of two-by-fours and fell through a greenhouse as I attempted to glide from the garage roof to the backyard. Every kid had a scooter made of an old, separated roller skate nailed to an orange crate, but mine had to be painted with a tin-can headlight and a mechanical brake. This activity was constant.”

 

Young Tom Moser sitting in chair in living room

 

 

A constant dictation of Tom’s designs is by drawing upon historical antecedents and pushing them a step further. The look of the Bowback Stool is no stranger to this formula. The signature backrest of the stool is a wooden permutation of cousin Walter’s motorcycle panic bar. Recalling the hours spent gripping this bar while racing down dirt roads, Tom employed a laminated rail — constructed with layers of flitch cut veneer to mimic the convex curve of the motorcycle’s chrome rail. The design includes four slender spindles attached to the rail with our signature wedged tenons, providing superior strength and beauty to support the rail.

 

 

Bowback stool beside wood stove and in process shots

 

 

The seat draws inspiration from the prized and indispensable milking stools of the early 19th and 20th-century. The seats of many early milking stools were carved from elm and featured three legs made from ash. The ingenuity of the three-legged stool provided stability on uneven ground and seated comfort from the back-breaking work of milking the herd in the field twice a day. As time passed, the milking stool’s look transformed from solid seats to seats shaped with a pommel and even to a half-moon-shaped wooden seat with three tapered pegged legs, complete with mortise and tenon joinery. Like the legs of the Bowback Stool, the legs of the milking stool pierced through the top and sanded smoothly to match the seat’s surface.

 

 

Looking top-down of bowback stool and bowback in workshop

 

The Bowback Stool is indeed the product of an all-American design inspired by an active and robust childhood. Wisconsin’s country roads indeed take our Bowback Stool back to the place where it belongs, at least in Tom Moser’s creative mind and capable hands.

 

 

 

 

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