Walnut Step Stool (Stepstool?)

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Project by Dan posted 03-12-2014 08:34 PM 1388 views 7 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi Everybody,

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a project but believe me, I have been busy building and keeping up with all the projects you guys are posting. I get a lot of inspiration from coming here and this project was no different. Not too long ago, I stumbled upon this walnut step stool and knew that as soon as I found the right lumber, that I was going to tackle something similar in the name of “practice.”

I had mentioned in my earlier posts that I had been hesitant to pull the trigger on purchasing some good wood and had been practicing with construction grade pine. I have completed several chairs and I have been happy overall with what I have built, but my maloof style joints have been somewhat sloppy as I have been attempting to kerf out the dados in the legs with my table saw. I had known for some time that I needed to save up and invest in a good dado set, but I’m cheap, young, have two daughters under five years old and not a lot of expendable income. I finally ponied up on a dado set and really had the last piece of the puzzle as far as tools needed to attempt a real Maloof inspired rocker. But I wanted something to practice on, and I wanted to practice with some good lumber.

On top of not wanting to spend a lot of money on good wood, I live in a somewhat rural area, and there isn’t anywhere nearby to even get higher quality lumber if I wanted it. I came across a hardwood lumber company in Jackson, Mississippi while traveling with my job and impulsively decided to splurge on a piece of 8/4 walnut, about 10” in width and 34” long. The price was a little over $9/ bd.ft., so I paid right at $50 bucks for this piece. When I saw this piece of wood, I immediately thought of the above linked stool and knew that this was my next project.

This was my first experience with high quality wood. I came home that day and set the wood up in my garage. For the rest of the week I came home every day and just looked at that board and was afraid to cut into in fear of ruining it. It was so pretty. This was the first time I had even held walnut lumber. I have copies of both “Sam Maloof Woodworker” and “The Furniture of Sam Maloof” and I had become infatuated with walnut and Sam Maloof. My wife rolls her eyes when she hears the words “Maloof” and “walnut,” because I talk about it A LOT.

I decided to hit up my scrap pile and I completed a similiar stool in pine, so I guess that was a “practice” practice piece. That is the last picture I have posted. I was very pleased with the outcome. I even sculpted the legs similar to the above linked project and I loved it, so I decided this was it. I laid out my cut lines and I went to town on the walnut and never looked back. I humbly submit the finished product. After assembly, I couldn’t bring myself to attempt to sculpt the legs as I had the prototype just out of fear of screwing it up. It looked so good to me, I thought, “why mess with it?” Hence, the squared, rounded off result that doesn’t match the practice piece. It’s finished with Maloof’s trademark mix of BLO, Tung Oil, and Varnish. It stands 11” high, 10” deep and 16” wide.

This stool was intended to serve a purpose as well. As stated earlier I have two young daughters, one of whom is getting old enough to brush her own teeth and need a little help reaching the sink as well as a wife who every now and then struggles to reach something in our kitchen cabinets. The problem is, since I finished it I havent allowed anyone to step on it. It is very sturdy as I tested it out before I began sanding. Instead, I painted the “practice” practice piece pink and that is what my daughter is using. The walnut stool is just sitting in the corner of my living room and no one is allowed to touch it. Ha!

Oh well, I’ve rambled enough. I’ve come to love everything about woodworking. I’ve even sold a few pieces and it feels really nice to have someone enjoy what you create enough to want it. I thouroughly enjoy coming here daily and seeing what everyone is working on. Keep up the good work!

-- Dear God, Thank You for wood putty...Amen.

17 comments so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

17259 posts in 1280 days

#1 posted 03-12-2014 08:37 PM

Very nice work. Great joinery.

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

View SPalm's profile


5138 posts in 2824 days

#2 posted 03-12-2014 09:17 PM

Nice. I really like it.
And I just love that leg joint – have wanted to do that for years. You nailed it.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon



166 posts in 1277 days

#3 posted 03-12-2014 09:49 PM

very nicely crafted and finished. Your daughter would love it. Soon, you have to probably make one more for the younger child.


View robert triplett's profile

robert triplett

1541 posts in 2047 days

#4 posted 03-12-2014 10:51 PM

Nice work! Walnut is a very beautiful wood. I like living in a place where I can find it as inexpensive as other wood.
It might be smart to let your wife use the step stool. She might okay other Walnut purchases.

-- Robert, so much inspiration here, and now time to work!!!

View Dan's profile


19 posts in 892 days

#5 posted 03-13-2014 01:18 AM

Thanks for the kind words!

-- Dear God, Thank You for wood putty...Amen.

View iminmyshop's profile


204 posts in 936 days

#6 posted 03-13-2014 01:20 AM

Love the joinery. Would love to see some intermediate stage photos before the pieces were joined.

View R_Stad's profile


299 posts in 785 days

#7 posted 03-13-2014 12:35 PM

Sweet stool. Enjoyed looking at your previous projects. All well done. Keep up the good work.

-- Rod - Oregon

View ScottMorrison's profile


143 posts in 1919 days

#8 posted 03-13-2014 12:50 PM

Nice work Dan. I’ve been building those for quite a few years and often give them away to little kids when I attend a show (with the parents’ approval, of course). They are always a big hit. Your interpretation is spot on.

-- Scott Morrison, Montana,

View JADobson's profile


506 posts in 1053 days

#9 posted 03-13-2014 04:24 PM

I like this a lot. Do the tenons and mortises just run in an ‘L’ shape or is there something more to the joint?

-- James

View CoachSchroeder's profile


96 posts in 546 days

#10 posted 03-13-2014 04:27 PM

Love the stool and your mini blog even more.
I can totally relate to your wood-related nervousness.
I’m even more pathetic in that regard… plywood gets me in tatters because I don’t have a vehicle big enough to get it easily, so I am forced to find other ways or buy several sheets when I happen to have a friend with a truck around.

-- -Sam, in Wisconsin

View ravensrock's profile


28 posts in 585 days

#11 posted 03-13-2014 05:25 PM

Very nice work. I have some walnut laying around and trying to decide what to do with it. I’m curious about the leg joinery as well. Can you share a bit more about what you did?

View mcoyfrog's profile


3770 posts in 2537 days

#12 posted 03-13-2014 06:08 PM

Great build and cool joinery I likey!!!

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

View Chris McDowell's profile

Chris McDowell

548 posts in 1095 days

#13 posted 03-13-2014 06:23 PM

Cool stool. I feel you on having 2 kids and not having any money to blow. I’m in the same situation. I have never used walnut either and I’m sure I will be just as scared as you after having spent a considerable sum on nice wood.

-- Chris, , FACEBOOK: , Proverbs 16:9

View Dan's profile


19 posts in 892 days

#14 posted 03-13-2014 08:31 PM

Wow. Again, thanks for the nice words everybody! For those that have questions, I am planning on sending you a message with some links to some resources that go into some detail on the leg joints. One great resource is Mr. Scott Morrison who commented above. I’m a big fan of what he does and it feels great to have him comment on my humble little project.

-- Dear God, Thank You for wood putty...Amen.

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


1974 posts in 1131 days

#15 posted 03-13-2014 10:16 PM

Dan – that’s an incredible stool. It looks really basic at first glance. That awesome wood selection and incredible joinery make it first class and remarkable. Very nicely done.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

showing 1 through 15 of 17 comments

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