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Consider a fairly common stool such as this:

stool

Instead of the wood stretchers between the legs would threaded rod work as a reasonable substitute? I am thinking about using two pieces of threaded rod per stretcher - connected in the center with a coupler nut. I can extend the rods out from coupler nut for a tight fit into the legs.

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    Yes, but they need to be attached in a way to resist tension, not compression, or not only compression. As you sit on a stool like this, the legs are at such an angle that your downward force from the weight of sitting translates partially into an outward force, spreading the legs away from each other. The stretched need to hold them together in tension. – Jacob Edmond Oct 19 '16 at 20:14
  • That's a great point @JacobEdmond. Thanks for the help. – Roy Oct 19 '16 at 20:53
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    This would work in outline but I think a better idea would be to use a turnbuckle in place of the coupler nut. Have you thought about how you'll anchor each end — because of the angle I'm not sure that running the threaded rod through the leg would work right (fixed with a nut on the outside) the way you could between table leg frames, so I'm thinking eye bolts in each end would be the way to go. – Graphus Oct 20 '16 at 8:02
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    @Graphus "turnbuckle" is the system I've been doing mental gymnastics to describe. Thank you! – Roy Oct 20 '16 at 14:05
  • Ah good, glad I mentioned them then. If you do a Google image search for "turnbuckle furniture" it'll bring up some images that might be useful to you. – Graphus Oct 21 '16 at 5:49
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Yes, thread rod will work and similar 'metal' work is, indeed, found on older stools here and there. Chris Schwartz and others claim that the stretchers are not even needed in some cases (see The Anarchist's Design Book by Schwartz for details).

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