Building and Painting a Step Stool

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Blog entry by ~Julie~ posted 02-26-2014 10:33 PM 1938 reads 5 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I had a customer ask if I could make a pine step stool. Here’s what I came up with.

We will need five pieces: two sides, a brace, a step, and a top

This is the (right) side piece, with the two holes drilled on the inner face, for the brace. The holes do not go through to the outside, this way no screws are used and therefore no screws show in the finished stool:

This is the back brace, which sits between the sides. I glued two dowels on each end which will fit into holes drilled into the side pieces:

This is the step piece, for the bottom step. It has holes drilled right through for four dowels, two on each side:

The top is the same size as the step piece and has the same holes drilled through. This buyer wanted a handle cut into the top which I did with my drill press and jigsaw.

Now we have all the pieces, and we can assemble the stool.

The following photo shows the brace fitted against the inner (left) side piece. The end of the brace and the dowels are glued to the side piece:

I use a long clamp to hold the brace in place while the glue dries on both sides:

Then I sit the top and step pieces on the sides and (after centering them there) I mark where holes need to be drilled in the top of the side pieces:

The holes take dowels that are glued level with the top and step pieces and right into the sides:

As I said earlier, I had a buyer that wanted a stained step stool. Her preference was for a dark stain, so I used a Minwax Gel Stain. It’s easy to use, just rub all over the stool (I do sections at a time) and then wipe off any extra. I find it a bit messy and need to use rubber gloves, but you really can’t go wrong.

You need to let this dry at least one day, or the stain will come off when you clear coat it. I used four or five coats of wipe-on polyurethane.

Here’s the first step stool:

I actually made two stools and decided to use white milk paint on the second stool. So, I stained the stool with the same stain as the first one. Once that was dry, I painted it with the milk paint and then distressed it. Since the pine is a light coloured wood, staining as an undercoat allows a darker wood to show through the distressed areas.

Here’s a close up of the same photo:

I decided to put a design on my stool to make it extra special. I used a stencil from Muddaritaville which was provided to me at no cost, in exchange for trying it out and blogging about it. Their stencils are cut from 10 mil mylar and are strong and completely reusable. (I was NOT told what to say about the product, all results and opinions are my own)

The bottom step looked to me like it needed something extra. That is where the stencil came in.

I taped the stencil on each side and then used a small stencil brush and black craft paint to fill in the cut out areas.

Normally, I hand paint designs on furniture and signs, but I thought it would be nice to try a stencil for a change. I know some of you say you can’t hand paint, so this is a way to get around that. I’m sure if I had hand painted it would have taken me well over an hour to trace the pattern and then paint it. With this stencil, it took me only a couple of minutes!

After the painting I lightly sanded over the whole stencilled area. Here is the whole bottom step, so much nicer with the stencil, and so easy to use:

I hand waxed the stool after sanding.

Although this stool is new, it looks like it has been around for a long time, don’t you think?

As I said, I got my stencil from Muddaritaville. Muddaritaville has many stencils you can use on furniture or to make signs with.

Muddaritaville is offering you a 20% discount on any stencil purchases totalling $25 or more, for being a reader of my blog. You will need to go to the Muddaritaville website and use the coupon code “fyh” at the checkout.

-- ~Julie~

5 comments so far

View Mean_Dean's profile


6916 posts in 3387 days

#1 posted 02-27-2014 01:29 AM

Great looking stools! Simple design, and yet you were able to spice them up, especially the milk paint stool with the stenciling.

I’m concerned about the wax, though. It could make the stool slippery when standing on it.

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View NormG's profile


6378 posts in 3244 days

#2 posted 02-27-2014 02:54 AM

It is a step or two in the correct direction

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View justoneofme's profile


671 posts in 2720 days

#3 posted 03-14-2014 02:50 PM

I like both step stools Julie … but I really love the antiqued one! Beautiful job!!

-- Elaine in Duncan

View sharad's profile


1117 posts in 4044 days

#4 posted 03-07-2015 05:33 PM

What are the dimensions of the stool?


-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

View ~Julie~'s profile


611 posts in 3274 days

#5 posted 03-23-2015 04:50 PM

Hello Sharad,
both the steps are 7 1/2” x 17” if that helps.

-- ~Julie~

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