Intro: 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.
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 hammer & chisel (or in retrospect, a handheld router)
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.