Why buy it when you can make it! #5: Improv Fir Step Stool [Part 1]

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Blog entry by paxorion posted 07-09-2014 03:49 AM 1746 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Lumberjockette in the making! Part 5 of Why buy it when you can make it! series Part 6: Improv Fir Step Stool [Part 2] »

A few weeks ago, I was looking through my humble wood stash and saw a few large boards of remaining fir from my Wing Chun Dummy project and wondered what I could make for my family that would be a practical use of material. Later that day, I had to lift my daughter up to the sink to wash her hands, when it hit me that a step stool would be useful. Knowing that I have plans on making the Popular Woodworking I Can Do That Step Stool, I had to come up with a different design for the fir.

Being far from the creative artsy type, I googled “build a step stool” for inspiration. One of the first (in the top 5) links led me to Marc Spagnoulo’s (The Wood Whisperer) site. A quick peruse through his project videos, and I found his Power Sculpted Contemplation Bench to be the right inspiration for this project. While I don’t plan on doing any sort of power sculpting, I heavily borrowed his construction approach of splitting the wider board to create the giant mortise-tenon (or rather a big box) joint.

Armed with a 1.5” x 7” x 4’ piece of fir (which I eventually had to augment with a piece of 2×4 fir to expand the stool foot print), I re-milled the material to S4S, and split the board into 3 equal sizes before crosscutting the pieces to the right shape. I used biscuits for alignment when gluing the boards back together, carefully matching up the lines and triangles I drew for reference.

After a dry fit, I noticed that the stool was too narrow, so I opted to mill some additional scrap fir and glue one an extra 3/4” on either edge, bringing the stool to 8.5” wide, a comfortable size for my daughter. Spent some time in a local shop tonight skip planing the glue-ups and cutting them to size. I made enough progress for a dry fit to show my wife, who is happy with the design.

Next up, sanding the parts before final assembly. I plan on just breaking the edges to keep the rectangular shape. Also, I haven’t decided if I plan on reinforcing 4 joints (2x mortise-tenon/box joints, and 2x butt joints for lower stretcher) with glue and dowels, or capped screws. I don’t have strong opinions either way, so any opinions/recommendations would be much appreciated.

-- paxorion

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