Stepping Stool

Introduction: Stepping Stool

My mother-in-law announced she can't reach the top of the cupboards in the kitchen. In the house she's lived in for forty years. She asked if I could make her something to help out. "No hurry though," she said. She's waited this long...

So here's another guide to what you, as a total beginner, with limited or no access to big workshop machinery, can knock together.

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Step 1: What You'll Need

A nice long plank (1 metre will do)

Optional: a few centimetres of dowel (ensuring you have a drill bit of the same diameter)

A saw

A hammer & chisel (or in retrospect, a handheld router)

A drill

Lots of glue

Sandpaper & elbow grease (ask in the hardware store for a 150g tin)
Not really. Power sander, all the way. Souls will not be destroyed during this project.

Handful of screws

Finish of your choice. Here, wax.

Step 2: Cutting the Pieces

There are only four pieces

I chose these completely arbitrary measurements -

The top: 330mm x 180mm

Legs (x2): 253mm x 180mm

Crossbar: 163mm x 50mm

You can also see from the photos that I started finishing the edges of some of the pieces at this early stage. Got a bit ahead of myself. Don't bother with any of that until the end. Pieces may get inexplicably battered and bruised between now and then and that careful finish will get ruined.

Step 3: Preparing the Joints

If you have limitless time and patience (which I thought I had, but turns out I was wrong), you'll go about your mortises with a hammer and chisel.

You're going to cut out a mortise in each leg, with the crossbar having a tenon on each end. Then two mortises in the underside of the top plate for the tenons on top of each leg to slot into.

First, tape up a drill bit to the depth of your mortice and drill a bunch of holes. Tidy up the mortise with your razor sharp chisel and sure hand.

If you can see where this is going already, you'll be reaching for a handheld router, or phoning a friend who has one. As I will if I ever make another of these. You live and learn.

Once you've finished the mortises, drill guide holes through the mortise where your screws/dowels are going to come in from the other side.

Step 4: Assembly

Time to commit. Glue the joints and assemble.

You have the choice now whether to put screws, dowels or nothing at all through the joints. As my joints themselves weren't perfect (note the understatement), and this has to keep my mother-in-law safely aloft, I opted for screws. But I didn't want the screws to show, so I countersunk the holes by about 5mm and inserted dowel tabs. Once the glue is dry on those, I'll sand them down.

Step 5: Nice Finish

Time to paint, varnish, stain, or wax your creation. I decided to wax mine, as I had a nice tin of wax sitting on the shelf. One coat tonight and I'll give it a good polish in the morning.


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    6 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    But how about that jointery! Those motise and tennons look great!


    Reply 4 years ago

    Again, the photos are deceptive. They look ok from this distance. Up close, an atrocity.
    Notice I didn't post a photo of the mortices in the underside of the top plate. I never want to see those again.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Hahaha... I think everyone that's ever tried making them by had knows exactly how you feel! If you keep at it, I know that they will get better!


    4 years ago

    Nice work! But in my view the legs are too close together. If the person standing on it steps out to the edge, the stool will tip over. Just my opinion :-)


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I was just about to post the same thing. The large overhang on the step makes it very likely that the stool will tip over.


    Reply 4 years ago

    I'll have to post another photo, because you're right - in that photo it does look like that. But that angle exaggerates it, it's really not as extreme. Plus I've tested it and it's very stable.