Greta is at that magic age, where she is actually capable of helping out in the kitchen–washing the grapes and picking them off the stems, making her own peanut butter banana, helping Chris by dumping ingredients into the bowl, and her current favorite (that takes place in the kitchen sink) is helping with Faye’s bath. Even though she is a tall girl and getting more capable by the day, she still needed to drag a dining room chair into the kitchen constantly–which definitely crowded things. Chris and I came up with a plan to make her a little step stool (inspired by this one) and it turned out beautifully!
Black+Decker sent us their new new 20V MAX* Lithium Cordless Drill/Driver with AutoSense Technology (no more screws stopping short, stripped screws, or damaged wood!) to work with and one to giveaway at the end of this post. The whole thing only cost us about $25 in materials and took only a couple hours. Here are the instructions, from Chris:
NOTE: The wood can be any species you like. Because this stool is for Greta, we went with pine. It’s soft, and easy to work with, but not as strong as other wood species. If the stool will be used by adults, buy a stronger wood like oak or something.
• 1 6ft, 2×2 board (or 8ft if you can’t find 6, though there will be more waste)
• 1 4ft, 1×12 board
• 1 3ft, 1/4in round metal rod
• 8-12 1in wood screws
• Stain and sealer, if you want. We used Provincial stain and satin Polycrylic to seal.
• 1/4 wood drill bit
• Measuring tape
• Straight edge at least 12 inches long
• Kreg pocket hole starter kit
• Miter saw
• Circular saw (or table saw if you have one)
• Dremel tool with a metal-cutting blade or some other electric metal-cutting tool (don’t use a regular saw – you will get hurt, and don’t try snipping the rod because that will pinch the ends and make it harder to work with later)
• Electric palm sander
Step 1: Cutting the legs
End Result: 4 legs cut from the 2×2 board, each 12 inches long and cut at an angle of 5 degrees.
– Our inspiration stool, the tops and bottoms of the legs are cut at an angle. Not only that, but the angle is from corner to corner, as opposed to a flat edge to a flat edge. This means the 2×2’s needed to be set on an edge before cutting, and this is pretty precarious. Now, I’m sure someone somewhere makes a brace to hold a piece of wood on an edge like that while you’re cutting it, but I wouldn’t even know what to search for in looking for one (Googling “brace to hold a piece of wood on an edge while cutting” didn’t pan out – weird, I know). So I just held it at an angle and eyeballed it. Turned out fine. You just need to make sure and cut both the top and bottom of the leg pieces (each leg being 12 inches long) at a 5 degree angle with a miter saw. Any steeper than that and the legs might stick out from the side too much and break. Also, make sure the angle on the top and bottom of the legs is oriented the same direction, otherwise it won’t sit right.
– Sand each leg with the palm sander until smooth.
Step 2: Cutting the top piece
End Result: 1 top piece cut form the 1×12 with dimensions of 11×15 (though the wood is called a “1×12,” the actual width of the board is closer to 11 inches, thus the dimensions are only 11×15).
– Using your pencil, measuring tape and straight edge, make a line 15 inches from the edge of the 1×12 board. Using a circular or table saw, cut the board along the line.
– Sand the 11×15 piece until smooth, taking time to round the edges to your desired roundness.
Step 3: Cutting the metal rod
End Result: 2 metal rods, each 13.5 inches in length
– Using your Dremel tool or whatever metal-cutting thing you’re using, cut two 13.5 inch lengths out of the 3 ft rod.
Step 4: Cutting the wood supports for sides
End Result: 2 wood supports cut from the 1×12 with dimensions of 3×11.
– Using your pencil, measuring tape and straight edge, make a line 3 inches from the edge of the 1×12 board. Using a circular or table saw, cut the board along the line. Repeat the process so you have 2 sections of board with dimensions of 3×11.
– Don’t sand these boards yet.
Step 5: Drill pocket holes in legs
End Result: pocket holes drilled into legs
– Following the directions that come with the Kreg pocket hole kit, drill 1 hole in each of the legs so they can be connected to the top piece. Take care to drill the hole in a side that will not be facing out once the stool is assembled.
Step 6: Drill holes in the legs for the metal rods
End Result: 2 sets of 2 legs connected by a metal rod
– Drill holes halfway through each leg for the metal rods, 3 inches from the bottom, directly in the middle. It can be really easy to drill a hole in the wrong side of the leg, so I found that it helps to lay the top piece down on your workbench so the underside is facing up, then set the legs in place where they will eventually be screwed into (about 1/4-1/2 inch from the corner edges – your call). Once in place, just make a quick mark on the side of the legs that needs to be drilled.
– Once the holes are drilled, put the rod into the holes and set the legs in place on the top piece, just to make sure you did it correctly and they are spaced appropriately. Drill a little further into the hole if needed, but be careful not to break through the other side.
Step 7: Attach the legs to the top piece
End Result: Legs attached to the top piece…obviously…
– Set the legs in place and carefully screw each in using one screw and a drill. Over-tightening could split the wood in this step, which is why we loved this Autosense Driver from Black+Decker. It stopped automatically saving us the headache.
The above photo was taken right before Chris added on the side supports. You can see he had the pieces cut to also add an apron, but we decided we liked it even better without those.
Step 8: Mark and cut the cross pieces
End Result: 3×11 Cross pieces will be cut to fit their spaces properly.
– I’ll try to explain the way I did this part, and hopefully it isn’t confusing. I forgot to take a picture, so my apologies. But the easiest way to do this is to lay one of the corner pieces down on your work table, then set two legs of the stool on top of the piece so that the bottom of the cross piece is 1.5 inches up from the bottom of the legs (the pieces will sit between the legs perpendicular to the metal bars). Then, using the legs as a stencil of sorts, draw a line on the cross piece so you know how much to cut off and at what angle exactly. Did that make sense? Do this with both cross pieces.
– Using the miter saw, cut where your lines are.
Step 9: Drill pocket holes in and sand the cross pieces
End Result: Cross pieces will be ready to attach
– Following the directions that come with the Kreg pocket hole kit, drill 1 hole (or two if you prefer, to prevent the chance of the cross pieces spinning) in each side of the cross pieces so they can be connected to the legs. Take care to drill the holes in the side that will not be facing out once the stool is assembled.
– Sand the top and bottom edges of the cross pieces until slightly rounded, leaving the sides that will be connected to the legs squared.
Step 10: Attach the cross pieces
End Result: You’ll have successfully built a friggen stool. Mazel tov.
– Line each cross piece up between the legs, perpendicular to the metal rods, with the bottoms of the cross pieces 1.5 inches up from the bottom of the legs. Screw the cross pieces in with a drill.
(Jules here!)I took over from this point and stained the whole thing (minus the metal supports–love those!) Provincial–a favorite stain of mine. And after letting it dry overnight, I topped with two thin coats of Polycrylic sealer in satin.
The classic stain with the natural knots exposed in the wood and metal rod details give this little step stool a warm industrial feeling. Like, maybe it’s been around for awhile and not that we made it in one evening in our garage a few days ago.
Greta loves it. And we love that the kitchen is no longer crowded with a full sized chair. It stores perfectly in a nearby base cabinet, but is so pretty–we really like to just keep it out.
Our friends at Black+Decker sent us their new 20V MAX* Lithium Cordless Drill/Driver with AutoSense Technology for this project, actually…they sent us TWO–one for you! The unique 20V MAX* Lithium Cordless Drill with AutoSense Technology has an automatic clutch that has proven to be three times more accurate than a mechanical clutch. You seriously have to watch the 60 second video here. It has so many features! We want you to see first hand how the Driver with AutoSense Technology stops itself when a screw is flush, and how the automatic clutch monitors the amount of torque needed to drive a screw–it’s all very life-changing for us DIYers, you know. So leave a comment telling us what you would make–maybe you are in need of a step stool, too?–and we’ll choose a random winner next Friday (June 27th).
Thanks to BLACK+DECKER for sponsoring today’s post and allowing us to create original content.