Shaker Style Step Stool

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Project by SteveL posted 05-29-2012 06:47 PM 2090 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


29691 posts in 2737 days

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

These look very nice. Congratulations.


-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View CyberDyneSystems's profile


251 posts in 2059 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 2120 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


116804 posts in 3448 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.

-- Custom furniture

View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1211 posts in 3869 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 2067 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 profile (online now)


8536 posts in 2903 days

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

Very Nice Indeed!

-- A Chip On The Shoulder Usually Indicates Wood Higher Up. (Rick, Ontario, Canada)

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 2368 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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