Footstools #1: My first real woodworking project

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Blog entry by Mark Gipson posted 02-26-2009 05:54 AM 2773 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Footstools series Part 2: First stool finished! »

One of the excuses I used to get started with woodworking (and spend money on tools of course) was that I wanted to build 5 footstools for our beauty salon. Our customers currently rest their feet on some rather horrible pink plastic footstools that cost 49 baht or less from the local supermarket. They look a bit out of place and the top is hard to keep clean. I can do better than that I thought! This blog will detail my adventures in trying to build these footstools. These are my first real project, I have made a couple of shelves for the salon but I’m not counting those as no wood had to be joined together.

The stools are being made from rubber wood which is available in wide, fairly flat, planed boards. With my current lack of both equipment and skills this is an ideal wood for me to learn on before I start depleting the precious stocks of tropical hardwood. Rubber wood is a by product of latex production so there seems to be plenty of it around, being rubber tree growers ourselves with around 1,000 trees in northern Thailand it’s nice to support the industry as well.

I used Sketchup to make a simple design for a stool with the same dimensions as we are currently using. These stools will be used many times everyday so they don’t need to be pretty or amazingly well finished, just comfortable and strong enough to take constant use.

Here is the progress so far:

First footstool

First footstool

The stock was cut from a large board using a circular saw and a couple of shop made jigs to aid with ripping and cross cutting. The arches in the legs and stretcher were made with a combination of jig saw, rasp and sandpaper. The legs fit into router cut dados in the top and then were secured with a couple of screws while the stretcher is simply butt jointed and screwed. I have tested the stool myself by sitting on it for a while and my frame is larger than the average Thai so I think it is safe to use in our salon :-)

I have learnt a lot and made a few minor mistakes but overall I am pleased with the progress so far, let’s hope I don’t mess up with the finishing! After I plug the holes with some dowel I’m going to use some teak coloured stain and follow with some floor finish once I track some down. I was going to use some wipe on poly but just noticed that it says not for use on floors so it may not be tough enough for a footstool.

The stool sits nice and square and flat on my bench and living room table but wobbles a little bit on our tile floor. After a bit of investigation I discovered that our floor is pretty uneven from tile to tile. This seems to be the standard in Thailand, if anybody has any advice on how to make the stool a bit more forgiving of uneven surfaces I would love to hear it.

I’m going to do a bit of work setting up my little shop now I have some space away from the heat of the sun before starting on finishing this stool and building the next one. I was thinking of simply cutting enough wood for 4 more tops, legs etc. and just knocking up another 4 stools the same but I won’t really learn anything new doing that. I am going to use each stool to practise a new technique but hopefully end up with the same final result. For the next stool I am thinking of making a template for cutting the legs with the router and having the stretcher fit into a dado in the top and legs. It’s still not ‘real’ joinery but it will require some careful measuring and cutting to achieve which is all good experience for me.

4 comments so far

View kiwi1969's profile


608 posts in 4602 days

#1 posted 02-26-2009 09:05 AM

For stability on an uneven floor try a three legged design, maybe with a round or oval top. You said they don,t need to be pretty but have to disagree i,ve always liked the philosophy of the shakers, that one should make a chair with the firm belief that one day an angel may come down from heaven and sit on it.You never know who may visit your salon!

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View Douglas Krueger's profile

Douglas Krueger

420 posts in 4883 days

#2 posted 02-27-2009 06:08 PM

kiwi1969 is spot on with the 3 legged approach, it has the ability to tilt a bit without getting the wobbles. You have done a very fine job for your first project, making the most of what you have to work with. With your desire to try something different each time, you will be amazed at how quickly your toolbox will fill with techniques that you are able to apply to future projects.

I know exactly what you mean when you talk about the uneven tiles, my shop has the same built in elevation variables.

Good luck with the new shop, if there are specific tools you are looking for, drop me a line and I will try to steer you to the right location in Bkk.

-- I can so I wood but why are my learning curves always circles

View Mark Gipson's profile

Mark Gipson

189 posts in 4540 days

#3 posted 02-28-2009 05:09 AM

Thanks for the tips guys, I have found that the tiles in our salon are pretty level so I think this design will work fine there. Once I have some more experience I will try the three legged version for my footstool at home. I find the tiled floors to be hard on my feet and want a nice wooden footstool for myself as well now. I think these will look pretty good once they are finished, it’s not impossible to think that I may be able to sell some of these through the salon. My wife is a pretty good saleswoman and our customers already think I’m a master craftsman as I managed to decorate our salon without getting paint on the floor, ceiling, mirrors, chairs etc., unheard of with Thai painters and decorators!

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5320 days

#4 posted 03-05-2009 08:49 PM

I think they are great!

chuckled at the “decorating without pain on the floor” comment :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

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