Foldable Stool-Step [UPDATED]




About: I'm an Italian freelance structural engineer, graphic designer and photographer, and I'm teaching physics in Waldorf schools. I always investigate electronics, robotics and science in general, I'm a passiona...

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.


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.


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.


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.



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    38 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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?

    1 reply
    andrea biffiBuxton56

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

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


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    1 reply

    4 years ago on Introduction

    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!

    2 replies
    andrea biffiAmgineXIV

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    1 reply

    4 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    1 reply
    andrea biffiinklayer

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

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


    4 years ago on Introduction

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


    4 years ago on Step 13


    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?