Sitting Bench Step Stool #1: History, Templates and the Initial Leg Shaping

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Blog entry by thewoodwhisperer posted 06-29-2012 11:56 AM 9552 reads 8 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Sitting Bench Step Stool series Part 2: Top, Stretcher, and Assembly »

After all of the support I received during our recent website troubles, I knew I had to come up with a special way of saying thank you. I considered sending out cards or personal emails, but I ultimately decided that the best way to show my appreciation would be to build one of the most requested projects ever: the Step Stool Sitting Bench. The reason this one gets requested so often is because it happens to be featured in our show’s introduction.

The Past
This particular stool was actually a failed prototype. The reason I consider it “failed” is because I just couldn’t produce them fast enough to sell at the desired price point. Here’s the story. When I first moved to Arizona, I needed to come up with ways to make extra money while getting my woodworking business off the ground and I decided to make a few items to sell at a local swap meet. My goal was to create something that was small, elegant, useful, well-built, batch-able, and cheap. And while I really liked the design of this little multi-purpose stool, I just couldn’t figure out a way to make them fast enough or in high enough number to justify a low price. So the prototype went to my mother-in-law who has been enjoying it for years.

The Present
Now that I get another crack at the design, I can’t wait to dive into the details. I doubt that I’ll overcome my previous issues, but I can certainly make some improvements on the original. In fact, this is another one of my classic “design on the fly” projects. I’m going to extract all the basic elements from the original, keeping the fundamental dimensions and angles. But I think we can do some additional shaping that will really make this piece stand out. So let’s embark on this design challenge together and create the coolest sitting bench…..step stool…thingie….ever!

To make this project, you’ll need to cut your materials into blanks of the following dimensions:
Top Blank – 1 3/4″T x 7″W x 16″L
Leg Blanks – 1″T x 7″W x 11 1/2″L
Stretcher Blank – 1 1/4″T x 1 3/4″W x 11 1/2″L

Note #1: The 1″ thickness of the legs is a bit of a necessary evil. We are cutting a lot of stock away so in order to have a thick enough leg when it is all said and done, the 1″ thickness is a necessity. You can use 3/4″ stock, but I don’t think it will look as good or be quite as strong.

Note #2: The curves in this project are all subjective. I can’t send you my templates so I encourage you to get some bending strips out and create your own curves. Experiment, play around, and have fun with the design process.

Get ‘Er Done!
Use a 1/2 spiral bit , router and edge guideto create the mortises in the underside of the top blank.
Cut a 15 degree bevel on one end of each leg blank to establish the top of the tenon.
Use a tenoning jig to hold workpiece at 75 degree angle and cut tenon with dado stack.
Cut the 15 degree bevel on the bottom of each leg.
Use template to mark the face curve profile on each leg and cut at the bandsaw.
Smooth the surface using a rasp, a spokeshave, a scraper or a sander.
Cut side profile of each leg leaving a 4″ long tenon at the top.
Shape leg to personal taste.
Cut the tenon shoulders with a hand saw, clean up with a chisel, and round over the tenons with a rasp.

-- For free video tutorials and other cool woodworking stuff, check out

15 comments so far

View Hartmann's profile


39 posts in 2886 days

#1 posted 06-29-2012 01:20 PM

Sorry but the video doesn’t work…..

View thewoodwhisperer's profile


604 posts in 4181 days

#2 posted 06-29-2012 01:24 PM

Seems ok on my end.

-- For free video tutorials and other cool woodworking stuff, check out

View seriousturtle's profile


101 posts in 3328 days

#3 posted 06-29-2012 01:31 PM

Video works, and I’ve been enjoying your vids for years now mark. Thanks

-- ~the turtle

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 2949 days

#4 posted 06-29-2012 01:44 PM

Works for me.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Enoelf's profile


192 posts in 2261 days

#5 posted 06-29-2012 02:10 PM

Video played fine here…
Like this project! Nice stool, bench, thingie…..
Thanks for sharing.
Well done.

-- Central Ohio, Still got 9 and 15/16 fingers!

View Gerry's profile


264 posts in 3238 days

#6 posted 06-29-2012 02:42 PM

Thanks for this! The video works fine, and I know 3 people who would KILL for a gift like this stool

Nicely done!

-- -Gerry, Hereford, AZ ” A really good woodworker knows how the hide his / her mistakes.”

View Alexandre's profile


1417 posts in 2188 days

#7 posted 06-29-2012 03:26 PM

Works for me..
Like your shirt..

-- My terrible signature...

View Julian's profile


1328 posts in 2688 days

#8 posted 06-29-2012 03:28 PM

Great video. I’ll have to try the angled tenon technique one day. Looking forward to the second part.

-- Julian

View jacob34's profile


465 posts in 2261 days

#9 posted 06-29-2012 05:14 PM

I always enjoy your videos, question though my attention was drawn to your clock in a couple of the shots does the second hand just not move or is it just me?? either way can’t wait to see the next vid.

-- so a bear and a rabbit are sitting on a log

View thewoodwhisperer's profile


604 posts in 4181 days

#10 posted 06-29-2012 06:25 PM

Thanks guys. As for the clock, we’ll just have to let that be one of the world’s great mysteries. :)

-- For free video tutorials and other cool woodworking stuff, check out

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18269 posts in 3673 days

#11 posted 06-30-2012 03:02 AM

Great vid Marc!

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3646 days

#12 posted 06-30-2012 03:50 AM

nice video Marc.

rasp work is tedious, I was surprised you went for so much material removal with it – touche!

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View thewoodwhisperer's profile


604 posts in 4181 days

#13 posted 06-30-2012 10:11 AM

I actually love the rasp for work like this. I don’t find it tedious at all. In fact, the slower speed allows me to relax and think about what I’m doing before going too far. Quite enjoyable.

-- For free video tutorials and other cool woodworking stuff, check out

View nobuckle's profile


1120 posts in 2758 days

#14 posted 06-30-2012 01:10 PM

This is great little project. Thanks for posting it.

-- Doug - Make an effort to live by the slogan "We try harder"

View tinnman65's profile


1357 posts in 3411 days

#15 posted 07-04-2012 02:48 PM

Looks like a fun small project. Thanks for posting Marc.

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. — Scott Adams

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