My father-in-law, Lloyd Wells, designed and built a walnut foot stool before his death in 2004. He gave it to his daughter Judy in Ohio. In early 2014, Judy gave the stool to me. The top had split in half at the glue joint, and there were water rings on the top.
I decided to try to repair the foot stool. It is a nice design, with the 4 legs turned on the lathe by Lloyd. I first analyzed why it failed. Lloyd violated the rule of allowing a way for the top to expand and contract across the grain with humidity changes. My guess is the top tried to expand, but it could not because the end stiles were anchored to the top.
He should have made a slot in the end stiles, then attached the top to the stiles with either a steel bracket or wood bracket that can slide in the slot.
The water rings occurred because he did not put enough coats of polyurethane on the top. He hated finishing work, and it was typical for there to be only one coat of polyurethane on his projects.
I would have had to completely dis-assemble the table to use the slot and steel bracket approach. The legs and other 2 stiles were heavily glued to the top and it would be very difficult to break all of these glue joints. I decided to use Kreg pocket screws to re-attach the stiles to the legs.
I glued the split top back together also.
I belt-sanded the top down to bare wood. I experimented and found that 120 Teak Natural stain was a perfect match to the old color...
And here is the finished foot stool..........
The stool may again fail in a few years because I did not completely isolate the top from the rest of the stool, and I did install sliding steel brackets in a sawn groove to allow it to move. I would have had to remove the other 2 stiles and all 4 legs from the table, and they were heavily glued by Lloyd in place. If it does break again, I will try to break all of those glue joints and allow the top to move with respect to the stiles and legs.