Folding Stepstool

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Project by Todd A. Clippinger posted 2700 days ago 14710 views 44 times favorited 28 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This folding stepstool is an old project I did in ‘02. Our kitchen cupboards go clear to the ceiling, and we have 8’6” ceilings, making it difficult for my wife to reach the upper storage. This is something she needs to do more than most, she is an artist with food and does personal meals and catering.

But the stool has been a great experiment in finish endurance for me. I usually spray pre-cat lacquers as a professional, you can’t beat the dry time. I can shoot 4 coats in an hour on a project, 3 coats even in the winter.

On this I did not want a film finish because it folds, and pre-cat lacquers will not hold up to foot traffic, food spills, and water areas. (It is excellent for all the furniture I have done.) I have read many times that Danish oil is not very durable or protective, but I was curious to try it myself. I warmed the can in a shallow bucket of hot water, and generously fed oil to the wood. I had to continually wipe all the oil bleeding out of the pores until it stopped. The stool gets a new coat of oil once a year since, and it has held up very well.

It gets used everyday, gets food all over it, gets wiped off, stepped on, chipped, and the finish has worked out wonderfully. A little oil and 600 grit wet-dry sandpaper will take off the grime, and a few shop towels to apply a fresh coat of oil and wipe off the excess. Just like new!

The stool plans came from a Taunton book, “Classic Kitchen Projects”, by Niall Barrett.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you, the black walnut was a salvaged handrail, and I did not have enough of it so I used scrap ash to make up the difference.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

28 comments so far

View Karson's profile


34869 posts in 3024 days

#1 posted 2700 days ago

Todd. This is a great design. What is the wood. Nice heartwood and sap wood contrasts.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware †

View DrSawdust's profile


307 posts in 2722 days

#2 posted 2700 days ago

This is pure talent.

-- Making sawdust is what I do best

View Roger Strautman's profile

Roger Strautman

645 posts in 2758 days

#3 posted 2700 days ago

Todd, this stool is a very nice example of how a small project can have the same challenges as a big project can. Well done!

-- " All Things At First Appear Difficult"

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 2785 days

#4 posted 2700 days ago

what kind of lacquer??

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8768 posts in 2723 days

#5 posted 2699 days ago


I use a pre-catalyzed lacquer. It is a lacquer that has a catalyst drying agent added right before it leaves the store. It has a pot life of about 6 months. It offers more protection than the nitrocelulose lacqers off the shelf at the box stores. It has a greater level of application performance too.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 2785 days

#6 posted 2699 days ago

ah!! Thanks for the info

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8768 posts in 2723 days

#7 posted 2699 days ago

Posting the stool was actually to share the experience with the oil finish. I hope I did this in time for Chellar to help with his decision.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Outnmbrd's profile


14 posts in 2700 days

#8 posted 2699 days ago

Nice work! It’s not often that I see a stool like this that the wife would want to have on display. I think she would use this one everywhere.

-- time, there's never enough time...

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 2923 days

#9 posted 2699 days ago

Walnut & Ash look great together. The Ash has some beautiful figure in the grain.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 2716 days

#10 posted 2699 days ago

I wholeheartedly agree with Rog and Dan about turning an otherwise mundane piece into something very special. Beautiful job Todd.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View cheller's profile


254 posts in 2733 days

#11 posted 2699 days ago

Very nice work. What does heating the oil do?


-- Chelle

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8768 posts in 2723 days

#12 posted 2699 days ago

Warming the oil helps it penetrate the wood. I have done it cold too. On reapplying I just do it cold, it does not require much to redo it anyway. Initially, I think it makes a difference. A small bucket of water is safe too, no flames or burners.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View cheller's profile


254 posts in 2733 days

#13 posted 2698 days ago

I’ll have to give that a try. But first I have a little more sawdust to make and then I have to clean up…

-- Chelle

View Don's profile


2599 posts in 2801 days

#14 posted 2599 days ago

Todd, I missed this one when it first came up. I like all of the projects that you’ve shown us. This one is more to the scale of the project that I build, so I’ve added to my favorites list as a possible future project.

Nice work.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View scottb's profile


3647 posts in 2951 days

#15 posted 2599 days ago

good information on the finish, I like the ease of re-application versus stripping and starting over. there’s plenty of spots in the house the cats have ruined the finish on… (windowsills, etc…) this info will sure come in handy down the road.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

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