176 – Sitting Bench Step Stool (1 of 3)

Video - June 28, 2012

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.

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