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Cedar Step Stool

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Project by scoobydooo9r posted 03-10-2014 04:56 AM 1136 views 3 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well, with all my talk about how good cedar looks, I thought I would post a better project to show a little better example of what I was talking about… not that the scarf rack doesn’t look ok, but this stool was actually planned out!

All of the major components are made of cedar, and I added some walnut trim to the fronts of the steps. Although it’s a nice design element, it actually serves a real purpose. This cedar is extremely soft. I swear it dents if you look at it funny. So, I wanted to provide a little extra protection for the fronts of the steps since they could see some knocks here and there.

I also pegged the tenons with walnut as well, and those legs aren’t going anywhere! The finish is Varathane semi gloss varnish. I wanted to give one of the home center brand varnishes a try just in case I need to get some in a pinch. I typically use General Finishes products for everything, but nobody carries it in town. After using this Varathane product, I’ll stick with GF from now on. It was super thin out of the can, but it tacked up quick without diluting it. Terrible. Arm R Seal works much better for me.

This project turned out to be quite a handful. The angles were actually pretty tricky for me – especially getting the legs to fit tight through the bottom step. It all turned out ok, but that was after a full scale mock up and some design changes along the way. All in all, I was pretty proud of this little stool, it felt like a pretty good accomplishment.

The project was a commission for a friend of my dad’s. He wanted a custom made stool for his wife. She originally picked oak for the wood, but we decided to change that up when his 100 pound wife was going to have to lug it around. I had her pick up the rough stack of oak that I was going to use for it, and she had a chance of heart real quick. I decided to give the cedar a try, and they both like it quite a bit – especially the lighter weight of it!

I’ll have to say that the price tag was a bit short of the amount of hours I had to put in to get everything to work, but it was a fun project. The one problem with trying to make a living at this is getting work done fast enough to make money. When I figure that out, I’ll let you know the secret.

-- I don't make mistakes, I make design challenges!





15 comments so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

14586 posts in 1026 days


#1 posted 03-10-2014 05:03 AM

Nice job.

Yes some days fall in the “non profit” mode. But we’re still making sawdust.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View CoachSchroeder's profile

CoachSchroeder

77 posts in 292 days


#2 posted 03-10-2014 05:23 AM

beautiful. I’m obsessed with stools lately.
The subtle flair in the feet is a nice touch.

-- -Sam, in Wisconsin

View ohwoodeye's profile

ohwoodeye

1055 posts in 1842 days


#3 posted 03-10-2014 11:56 AM

I can not believe that cedar is a suitable wood for a stool. Needs to be hardwood….....oak, poplar etc.
Like you said, it dents just looking at it. It also splinters easily. I fear someone getting hurt using this stool.

-- Directions are just the Manufacturer's opinion on how something should be assembled. ----Mike, Waukesha, WI

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

15960 posts in 1555 days


#4 posted 03-10-2014 02:01 PM

It’s a nice clean practical project. Well done.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- 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 Matty272's profile

Matty272

30 posts in 227 days


#5 posted 03-10-2014 04:08 PM

A step-stool is on my “list of things to do very soon”. Hoping to get on and do one!

Really like the simple design of yours

-- It's worth every moment of effort you put in if the kids enjoy it!

View mcoyfrog's profile

mcoyfrog

3272 posts in 2283 days


#6 posted 03-10-2014 06:23 PM

sweet

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

View SCOTSMAN's profile

SCOTSMAN

5428 posts in 2273 days


#7 posted 03-10-2014 08:50 PM

A nice project which is both attractive and functional too .Looks great Brother. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View ralbuck's profile

ralbuck

568 posts in 955 days


#8 posted 03-11-2014 02:54 AM

Very nice!

I also like cedar well.

-- just rjR

View scoobydooo9r's profile

scoobydooo9r

165 posts in 2464 days


#9 posted 03-11-2014 05:33 AM

Thanks Sam. I’m a big fan of asian influence, and I lean that way when I get free reign on designs like this stool. Sometimes my tastes clash with what clients want though, I have to restrain myself sometimes. LOL

-- I don't make mistakes, I make design challenges!

View scoobydooo9r's profile

scoobydooo9r

165 posts in 2464 days


#10 posted 03-11-2014 06:50 AM

Thanks for checking out my project Mike (by the way, love the domino cutting board). From the small tests I made, the cedar is more than strong enough to hold anyone under fairly normal use. Your comment made me curious though, and I found this wood strength chart on woodworkweb.com (they got it from US Forest Service. Interesting how similar poplar and cedar are… you may rethink choosing poplar for something like this project if you are worried. Oak is definitely stronger, but as I mentioned in the post, the end user was a 100 pound woman who didn’t want to lug around a 35 pound step stool.

I tossed in a couple other typical hardwoods too.

In this case, I was using about 2” final thickness stock for the steps and probably almost 3/4” – 1” for the legs at the their thinnest parts. When you apply the formulas above to the stock, you will find that the weight and stress needed to break each individual part is pretty astronomical. Without figuring out exactly what dimensions were needed to apply to the formula, I just opted for the smallest numbers to calculate the square footages, and just for fair warning, the sizes are approximated from memory.


So, if you have a ton of cedar on hand like I do, you can rest assured that it will handle quite a bit of stress. Hope this helps. For full disclaimer: I am not a wood expert and I believe the source data I got and the way I applied the formulas was correct. If I made any mistakes, please let me know.

-- I don't make mistakes, I make design challenges!

View scoobydooo9r's profile

scoobydooo9r

165 posts in 2464 days


#11 posted 03-11-2014 06:51 AM

Thanks Charles, it worked out pretty good for the client, and I got some practice messing with legs.

-- I don't make mistakes, I make design challenges!

View scoobydooo9r's profile

scoobydooo9r

165 posts in 2464 days


#12 posted 03-11-2014 06:53 AM

Hey Dug, checked out your profile, and I love the glass+wood idea. I am itching to branch out into metal+wood here soon. Perhaps I’ll try some glass work as well. Love to mix it up a bit and learn about something new.

-- I don't make mistakes, I make design challenges!

View scoobydooo9r's profile

scoobydooo9r

165 posts in 2464 days


#13 posted 03-11-2014 06:59 AM

Thanks Alistair, function was the top priority but looks fell in line too with this one. Love being able to sculpt something into a useful and beautiful piece.

-- I don't make mistakes, I make design challenges!

View scoobydooo9r's profile

scoobydooo9r

165 posts in 2464 days


#14 posted 03-11-2014 07:00 AM

Thanks rjR, I’m starting to be a fan of it…. works great for plank grilling too we just found out. Product testing cedar grilling planks is work that I am agreeable to!

-- I don't make mistakes, I make design challenges!

View mcoyfrog's profile

mcoyfrog

3272 posts in 2283 days


#15 posted 03-11-2014 06:53 PM

Thanks Zac

My wife started in the glass and got me hooked too. Metal and wood are also great, can’t wait to see what you come up with

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

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