Introduction: Foldable Stool-Step [UPDATED]

Lately I helped a friend to design a foldable stool-step. Those brilliant pieces of furniture were very common in Italy in last century, but it seems that lately they are not considered trendy and you don't see them often. In any case they are so suitable that I designed three models with small variations. As you can see the piece is a comfortable bench, but extended it becomes a three-steps little stair, to reach shelves and high spots in the kitchen.

The piece in the photography is my reference, but I will make soon an instructable about the building of one of the three four new models.

bench-stair

Step 1: 1st Version

First version is 70 cm high, and it has a top step of 40 x 26 cm. It's quite sturdy, but very compact. You can add the modification I designed in next step to improve its stability. Indeed I had a request to use these dimensions, but my fear is that the bench is too narrow, so it's better to lock it when opened.

Step 2: Fastening

Adding a sort of lock at the level of the second step lets you locking the stair opened, so that the base will be the full stair depth, and there will not danger that it tips over.

I will design the lock details when I will make the stair, I hope to write soon that instructable.

Step 3: Closed

As you see the small piece rests on the back middle beam when closed, and it's entirely contained in the bigger piece.

Step 4: 1st Version Dimensions

here you can find all the dimensions necessary to build the stair. When you design the connections between beams, boards and wood legs consider them to determine the elements length. For instance if you want to use wood pins, you already have right dimension in my schematics, but if you want to make joints, you have to add the joints length to the element length.

A note about the dimensions, all the wood boards are 4.5 cm thick, and all the beams have 3.5 x 4.5 cm section, disposed with longer inertia in direction of the shorter side of the bench, so to save more space for the inner steps.

Step 5: Operation Principle and Critical Points

You can see in the asnimation how the stair can fold inside the bigger element.

anim1 There are some critical points at which you have to pay attention.

Look at the following animations, you see that there could be some interferences between the two parts during the movement. You have to keep those distances the shorter you can, to maximize the efficiency and stability of the stair, but of course you have to check that the parts don't touch one each other.

anim1anim1

Step 6: 2nd Version

This version has fewer pieces than the first one, so it a bit easier to make, but the overall dimensions are the same.

Step 7: Folded

Again I show you the first two steps structure folded inside the bench.

Step 8: 2nd Version Dimensions

Here you can extract any information you need to build this version of the stair-bench.

I repeat the note since you could think some measures are missing: all the wood boards are 4.5 cm thick, and all the beams have 3.5 x 4.5 cm section, disposed with longer inertia in direction of the shorter side of the bench, so to save more space for the inner steps.

Step 9: 3rd Version

Last variation has been to enlarge the depth of the all structure, so that it's more stable and safe. So the top step has become 40 x 30 cm. The bench is also a bit taller than before, since I wished to keep the same rise for every step. The only disadvantage is that now the bench is not so compact as before.

Step 10: 3rd Version Folded

This model has the same exact folding principle of the first ones.

Step 11: 3rd Version Schematics

And here the schematics for this bigger version. Again all the wood boards are 4.5 cm thick, and all the beams have 3.5 x 4.5 cm section.

I will write soon the instructable about the building process, but I hope that someone of you readers can build it before, and I'm sure we all can't wait to see your works.

Step 12: [UPDATE] 4th Design

Last but not least an huge 40 x 40 cm bench, with a different support type for the inside moving part. And there are fewer parts to build in this version, but pay attention to make stronger joints, or it will be weak.

bench-stair

Step 13: 4th Design Dimensions

At last the schematics for this bigger square bench.

Add eight rubber feet under this last bench-stair, or it will get struck in the movement against the floor.

Good luck if you decide to build it!

Step 14: 3D Model

If you wish to try making a scale model with your 3D printer here is the .stl file :-)

Step 15: [UPDATE] Reinforcement

after some test I had to improve the stability of the stool step with an additional wood bar in the front of the small piece. then I enlarged the second step and I added a wood small cylindrical bar to help opening the stool.

Comments

author
steinie44 made it! (author)2014-09-23

My Swing Out 2 Step Stool.

http://youtu.be/RHMzNRpScI8?list=UU0_hiu0q4bHnGHtiJcG4sDw

This is a 2 step swing out stool I designed in SketchUp. It can be made for under $20.00.
Can be used as a pet ladder or a seat also. It's 18" wide, 19" tall and 11 1/4 deep.
SketchUp drawings at: http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=3a8b80650d24b1ab8e966271baaa42c9
I hope you like it and Subscribe to my channel.

author
andrea biffi made it! (author)andrea biffi2014-11-10

cool! :-)

author
Buxton56 made it! (author)2014-11-09

Could this be made taller and wider to use as steps for a loft bed? I'm trying to make steps not a ladder for a loft bed. I don't have a lot of space for stairs. The top stair can be between 50-54 inches from the floor and I only have 44" of space from the wall to the bed. I don't want anything permanent. Can anyone help?

author
andrea biffi made it! (author)andrea biffi2014-11-10

nice idea, it's certainly doable, I will ask you more measures and I can make a design for you!

author
domenic3 made it! (author)2014-09-14

smart idea :)

author
nick222 made it! (author)2014-09-10

Maybe this can be adapted for a homebrew (beer) setup, such in the image below, where three levels are needed and then it can be compacted for storage.

HomebrewSetup.jpg
author
andrea biffi made it! (author)andrea biffi2014-09-12

cool! :-)

author
AmgineXIV made it! (author)2014-09-12

I like this idea for a kitchen with a bar. I would call this a stool-step, rather than a bench-stair (maybe that's an Italian thing). I am wondering if you could make it where the two lower steps slide straight back and lock (rather than flip over), then when one is sitting on it, they could use the lowest step as a footrest. Maybe line up the brace pieces with the level of the steps as well for an integrated look!

author
andrea biffi made it! (author)andrea biffi2014-09-12

like this one!

author
andrea biffi made it! (author)andrea biffi2014-09-12

hey! your comments are so valuable, you could be a awesome instructables author!

Thanks for the right name, I will update the title. The sliding idea is great, I will think about it. I also thought to keep bracings at the same level of the steps, but it's not doable unless I use a deep step board.

author
pavgod made it! (author)2014-09-10

For safety reason it`s better to have some kind of fixation. I mean - pairs of inner legs have to be fixed together, preventing of sudden fold of the bench when anybody being on top lost one's balance.

author
andrea biffi made it! (author)andrea biffi2014-09-10

yes, you are right, fastening is discussed in step 2!

author
inklayer made it! (author)2014-09-09

Great instructable. I was wondering if instead of pivoting the entire step portion by turning it upside down I was wondering if hinges could be used so that the steps could be lifted and be pushed back and down when not in use. something like the image I added.

206232-lg.jpg
author
andrea biffi made it! (author)andrea biffi2014-09-10

mmm probably not, since the steps need to have a pillar to avoid the capsizing of the stair... just a fast thought anyway

author
beverly made it! (author)2014-09-09

is it big enough to sit on say at a breakfast bar

author
MsSweetSatisfaction made it! (author)2014-08-23

Wow that's a lot of detail, and such a good demonstrating all the critical points in construction. Thanks for sharing!

author
andrea biffi made it! (author)andrea biffi2014-09-09

:-)

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shazni made it! (author)2014-09-02

Wow...Fantastic instructable!

author
andrea biffi made it! (author)andrea biffi2014-09-09

thanks! :D

author
BG_instructs made it! (author)2014-09-09

Great,

i just happen to need such a bench.

ceilings on our first floor are really high, i checked an Ikea type, too low, i need some 72 cm as minimum height.

So this design i will check in detail.

I see you made it, is it really stable, i will use it to replace light bulbs..

The internal folding mechanism seems ideal, but the whole set seems to be heavy?

author
andrea biffi made it! (author)andrea biffi2014-09-09

if you wish I'm also designing a similar stair, but taller and bigger, just wait next instructable!

author
bifaerie79 made it! (author)2014-09-09

This is a beautiful project and instructable! I hope to be skilled enough to one day make one. I find the design such a wonderful and natural combination of beauty and functionality and I LOVE the hide-away aspect for functional furniture. Shouldn't ALL furniture be this way?! Thanks for sharing in such great detail!

author
andrea biffi made it! (author)andrea biffi2014-09-09

I love this design too

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ventifact made it! (author)2014-09-09

I like the locking for stability function and would suggest a centrally cut hand hold so that it can be lifted with one hand in a balanced manor.

author
andrea biffi made it! (author)andrea biffi2014-09-09

you are right, actually my reference piece has a central cut hand hold

author
AntyS made it! (author)2014-09-08

This is not a new idea. This stool-ladder was already described in the journal "Mlody Technik" (Young Technologist) in February 1987. Here, I've included a link to this article http://www.mt.com.pl/archiwum/87-Nw-02-Stolek_Drabinka.pdf.
To make matters more interesting, it is also not own the idea of this magazine. As it says, this idea comes from the Italian magazine "Fai ta de".

stoolladder_m.jpg
author
Sfuzzz86 made it! (author)Sfuzzz862014-09-09

This brings up some memories! My aunt had one, factory made, in her kitchen. When I was a child I used to open the stairs in the stool to get on top and stay at the same eye level of my aunt when i talked to her in the kitchen. Now I must make one. Thanks for the Instructables and thanks for bringing up good old half-forgotten designs!

author
andrea biffi made it! (author)andrea biffi2014-09-09

that's nice! :-)

author
andrea biffi made it! (author)andrea biffi2014-09-09

as I noted in the intro "Those brilliant pieces of furniture were very common in Italy in last century" and I doubt the idea comes from the magazine "fai da te", as I'm pretty sure it's a very old design, anyway it's quite interesting that it quotes an italian magazine.

author
wyldestyle made it! (author)2014-09-08

Great detail and content. keep it up...

author
Darthorso made it! (author)2014-08-23

Great Andrea, as always your projects have a fantastic detailing and a super quality! You are the power member of the Italian authors on this site ;)

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andrea biffi made it! (author)andrea biffi2014-08-28

naaa, as we say in Italy... pochi ma buoni!

author
Darthorso made it! (author)Darthorso2014-08-28

Nella community piccola ci sono gli users buoni! xD

author
drewsdesign made it! (author)2014-08-23

This is great, can I ask what software you used to model and render those images?

author
andrea biffi made it! (author)andrea biffi2014-08-23

Rhinoceros, an awesome and powerful 3D software

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rimar2000 made it! (author)2014-08-23

Thanks for sharing this, is a very good design: useful, simple, cheap, easy. What more?

author
rimar2000 made it! (author)rimar20002014-08-23

What do you think of the hind legs slightly open, to improve stability?

I found very useful my three-legged stool-table, but I have to be very careful not to step near the edges when I climb over it.

author
Pelep made it! (author)2014-08-23

Grazie Andrea. Lo farò presto....

About This Instructable

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Bio: I'm an Italian freelance structural engineer, graphic designer and photographer. I'm also investigating electronics, robotics and science in general. I enjoy hacking and ... More »
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