My daughter likes to stand on a chair at our kitchen island to help mom cook, eat a snack, or just be at a closer height to the adults. As she's gotten taller and is prone to dancing, the chair has become a bit dangerous. It also keeps her a few inches back from the side since the back is butted up against it. My plan was to make a large stool ~10" high so she has a safe surface with ample room to move around.
The original plan was to make everything 3/4", but after a dry fit I realised it looked chincy and decided to make it bulkier. This meant I had to go back and cut a second stool to laminate with the first. I'll just pretend that was my plan all along. At almost two feet wide and with the top and legs measuring an inch and a half thick, this stool is very heavy, but also extremely sturdy. Mission accomplished.
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Step 1: Cut Sections to Size
I cut up some 3/4" plywood and 1"x10" boards into the following sections
- 3/4" plywood
- 2 - 22"x18"
- 2 - 22"x18"
- 1"x10" board
- 4 - 18"x9"
- 2 - 16.5"x5"
Step 2: Glue Up
I glued the two plywood sections together to make the top, and the four 18"x9" sections (2 each) for the legs. After clamping it all up and letting it dry, I had all the sections at their desired width (1 1/2").
Side note: I cut everything a hair big, and then ran it through the table saw after gluing to clean up the edges.
Step 3: Shape the Legs & Sides
First, I cut a 45 degree triangle about 5" into the bottom of the legs with my jigsaw. The lines weren't great, but I sanded them down until they looked acceptable.
Next, I cut a 15 degree taper into the outsides of both legs using the method described in this video. It was super easy and ended up producing the desired result, but it wasn't as accurate as I'd hoped and left me with screw holes to fill. The final dimensions were 17 and 3/4" lengthwise at the bottom and 9" high.
Side note: This inspired me to build a tapering jig. There are a ton of videos out there on the subject. The ease of use gained from clamps and miter slot slides made it well worth the trouble.
Since I added a 15 degree taper to the legs, the sides would stick out when attached to the top. In order to make them flush with the side-profile of the legs, I used my table saw to cut a 15 degree bevel into the edge that makes contact with the top.
Step 4: Shape the Top
Since this stool was for our kitchen, I wanted to round the corners and ease over all the top edges on the top. I figured this would make it look a bit more finished as well.
- Mark a point at the distance from the corner for the desired rounded edge. I used a combination square and measured from each edge to find the exact spot on the diagonal.
- Connect the corners with a straight line. This will help line up the compass.
- Set the compass width so that the corner will have the desired arc. Line up the needle on the diagonal line and the pencil on the point marked in step 1.
- Draw the arc, and cut the corners off with a jigsaw or bandsaw.
- Use a roundover bit on a router to cut a uniform roundover profile.
Step 5: Pocket Holes!
With the overhang design of the top, I honestly wasn't sure what type of joinery would be best. Pocket holes may not be the strongest, but this stool is pretty heavy duty so I figured a handful of them would do the job, and be pretty easy.
Lining everything up for assembly was very tricky and took quite a lot of trial and error. An extra pair of hands would have gone a long way. I did manage to get everything square though.
Step 6: Finishing
I didn't snap any progress pictures, but there was a lot of sanding along the way. I generally used an 80 or 120 grit with a disc or belt sander to remove saw marks and trim edges up. Then I used 180 or 220 with a palm sander to finish.
Once smooth, I used an ebony stain, and then finished it off with two coats of spar urethane. Between coats I sanded a little on rough spots with a 000 steel wool. I'm pretty happy with the end result and it matches some chairs I made for our counter island (you can see the corner in the picture).