A Classic Step Stool
Improve your hand-tool skills as you build this versatile piece
Synopsis: Whether you are a beginning woodworker or a seasoned veteran, this classic step stool is designed to put your skills on display. Dovetail joinery, curved stretchers, and tapered sides give the piece flare, and all the joinery is visible. For beginners, a pair of dividers and a simple guide block put perfect dovetails within reach. For veterans, the classic lines are perfect for showcasing your hand-tool skills. Step-by-step assembly makes it all come together.
Tommy MacDonald’s finish recipe is available for this project.
From Fine Woodworking #203
The design of a Shaker two-step stool isn’t complicated. There are two steps, two sides, and three stretchers, all joined by dovetails. The crisp, unadorned lines are elegant. My version— influenced by the work of Ira Richer, a former classmate at North Bennet Street School—preserves the simplicity and elegance, with some embellishment. I added a slight but graceful curve to the stretchers in front of the steps, and tapered the back of the stool outward from top to bottom to make it more stable.
If you’re an experienced hand-tool user, this stool is a great opportunity to put your skills on display. There are no hidden parts, so all of your work is visible. It lets you show just how far you’ve come.
Beginners, though, shouldn’t be scared off. I’ll show you how a pair of dividers and a small guide block can bring beautiful hand-cut dovetails within your reach. And because the stool is a small project, you can take your time and practice on scrap before cutting into good stock.
There’s more to this stool than an exercise in hand-tool use, though. Its stability makes it perfect for children who need to reach a sink or bookshelf, or for you when you’re reaching a…