Recently while talking to my younger sister I learned that my niece has entered the climbing phase. She will drag any and all movable objects to where she will be able to climb up onto things such as desks, counters etc. I commented to my sister that when we were young we always had small stools which were safer than things like totes. This inspired me to build a small stool for my niece as a Christmas present.

For me this was an extremely low cost project as I already had a number of antique table leaves which I had found in my attic upon purchasing my home. since I didn't have the table that they belong to and they were a little bit on the rough side I decided to use one of those for this project as I have in the past for others.
All other materials I already had on hand from past projects as well so I really have no expenses to itemize. Depending on what you have on had and the type of wood you want to use this stool could easily be made for under $20. If you have to buy everything it could certainly be more.

1 3/4" oak board
Wood glue
latex wood filler
brad nails

table saw (a circular saw could also be used)
router with round over bit
compound miter saw (table saw or circular saw could also be used)
block hand sander
brad nailer
rags & brushes
belt sander (or any other type)
Why polyurethane? With a clear coat of lacquer, it's only 30 minutes drying time per coat. That's what I've always used.
mattl (author)  tinstructable5 years ago
I always use Minwax polyurethane because it spreads and levels nicely and holds up to a lot of abuse.
static6 years ago
I found the into interesting. Here Children are discouraged from climbing up to places not intended for people to be on. However short step stools are provide so they can use the bathroom sink.
colinj6 years ago
The bench looks great but how about a picture of your niece seeing her present for the first time and/or using it.
mattl (author)  colinj6 years ago
I do have several however I need to get an ok from my Sister before posting pictures of her kid online.
colinj mattl6 years ago
that sounds like a good call.
johnmxl6 years ago
Looks great, but how stable is it with a climbing child? Wouldn't a base as wide as or wider than the top be better?
mattl (author)  johnmxl6 years ago
Certainly for maximum stability legs wider then the surface area would be ideal. This was a concern of mine initially too but found it quite stable. One could always move the legs to the absolute corners or cut the joining surfaces at angles so that they protrude outward beyond the surface. I wanted to go for simple & durable. Since my niece was already standing on far less stable platforms I feel pretty comfortable that she will not fall & injure herself using her new stool.
johnmxl mattl6 years ago
Thanks for addressing my question. I guess I'm thinking more like a parent these days than the inquisitive boy of my youth. I silently applaud every time one of my kids push the envelope - it means I haven't completely succumbed to the nerf society!
mg0930mg6 years ago
Great job. I love how it looks.
Phil B6 years ago
In Step 1 your photo shows the sawblade sticking up above the wood an inch and a half, or so. You will actually get a smoother cut if you lower the blade so it sticks up above the wood only about 1/8 inch. Also, if your hand slipped and came in contact with the blade, a blade barely sticking up above the wood will produce a flesh wound. Sticking up an inch and a half or more it will take off fingers or part of your hand. Otherwise, nice job on the bench!
mattl (author)  Phil B6 years ago
Good safety warning. I actually took that picture after I had already cut the piece of lumber to size. I raised the blade to make it more visible in the photo with a couple inches of space between the actual cut board and spinning blade. Another safety tip. Use pushsticks!
Phil B mattl6 years ago
Pushsticks are great. Thanks for not minding my suggestion. Someone did a study once and found that extra safety devices on automobiles, like ABS brakes, gave people a sense of security that enticed them to take more risks, and they were no safer in the end. Saws I have used did and do not have as many blade guards as many saws do now. I have always felt blade guards may lull the user into taking more chances. To me, very safe practices coupled with extreme vigilance is more reliable than a blade guard.
sgsidekick6 years ago
Nice bench. Looks simple enough that even I could do it!