Shaker Style Step Stool

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Project by SteveL posted 05-29-2012 06:47 PM 2188 views 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This stepstool was requested by a co-worker who wanted to be able to reach the top shelves in our supply cabinets. It took me a while, but this was the result. I altered the design in Ejner Handberg’s book because I didn’t have a single board to make the sides from, but was edge joining three boards to make the panel. I thought that might not be strong enough since I’d only have about 3 inches of glueline left if I made the large half-round cutout—so I changed it to a mousehole (side view) and added a ledger strip on the insides. The treads and crossbraces are red oak, while the sides are pine. Bottom tread has my maker’s mark on the underside. The treads and crossbraces are attached with 2” cut nails. I tried to imitate the Shaker “pumpkin pine” color by adding Lockwood red dye dissolved in ethanol to some amber shellac. Not sure how well this matches up. A base coat of boiled linseed oil, 3 coats of my dyed shellac, followed by 2 coats of polyurethane ( a third on the treads ) to improve durability. If I make it again, I’ll use hardwood throughout. The pine is too easily dented.

-- SteveL

8 comments so far

View helluvawreck's profile


32083 posts in 3011 days

#1 posted 05-29-2012 06:58 PM

These look very nice. Congratulations.


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View CyberDyneSystems's profile


288 posts in 2333 days

#2 posted 05-29-2012 07:05 PM

Very attractive!
I need to copy this,. we recently have adopted a daughter of Guatemalan decent,. ie: she is TINY!
She can not reach most of the kitchen cabinet storage, cereal etc.

A step stool like this will be much nicer than the plastic atrocity my Wife brought home for her.

-- Without the wood, it's just working

View GenerationWW's profile


521 posts in 2394 days

#3 posted 05-29-2012 10:28 PM

That is the nicest step stool I’ve seen. The finish looks great. Add a handrail and there may be a serious market for these.

-- list your handcrafted treasures @ for free!

View a1Jim's profile


117234 posts in 3722 days

#4 posted 05-30-2012 01:21 AM

Beautiful work Steve and fantastic finish too. I made one years ago that Norm Abram had on his show and found it was terribly unstable ,better as a plant stand then a stool. I hope yours works better than mine.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1232 posts in 4144 days

#5 posted 05-30-2012 03:09 AM

Classic design , a real eye catcher. Nicely done and presented project. Thanks for posting.

-- Bob A in NJ

View DawsonWoodworking's profile


27 posts in 2341 days

#6 posted 05-30-2012 05:19 AM

I really like your step stool. Thank you for sharing your finishing recipe. Very well done.

-- Salt Lake City, UT My goal is to live forever - so far, so good.

View Rick S.'s profile

Rick S.

10561 posts in 3177 days

#7 posted 05-30-2012 09:08 AM

Very Nice Indeed!

-- (Rick S.)... "Don't Worry About What People Think! They Don't Do It Very Often Anyway!"

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 2642 days

#8 posted 06-01-2012 03:05 AM

“The pine is too easily dented.” But it’s not a museum piece, it seems like it’s going to be used regularly. The pine will look great in ten years when all marked up and that stunning finish will just be nicely broken in. Kind of like the ladder that I made too well.
Nice to see you posting again.

-- gene@toronto.ontario.canada : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

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