Just a little stepstool

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Project by Julian posted 04-26-2009 04:04 AM 2530 views 12 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

It’s been a productive couple of days in the shop. I built a few nice push sticks, started my new computer desk, and built this small stepstool for my daughter. It’s actually not for her. It’s for the dog, so she can get on my daughters bed to sleep with her. She requested a stool so this is what I came up with. The sides taper from 8” to 7” on top, and is 12” wide. I used some honduran mahogany with a mild curl in it, and some tiger maple for the top. The middle stretcher has ebony wedges in the tennons. I cut the mortises and dovetails all by hand. For the finish, I used two coats of amber shellac cut 50/50 with DNA, then sprayed it with satin laquer, and then a coat of beeswax. I just love these little projects that can be built in under a day.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

18 comments so far

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3392 posts in 4349 days

#1 posted 04-26-2009 04:08 AM

Awfully pretty step stool. That pooch must really be special to rate ebony wedges and dovetails!

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2821 posts in 4043 days

#2 posted 04-26-2009 04:29 AM

Nice job.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View Marc5's profile


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#3 posted 04-26-2009 04:32 AM

Tastefully done. I like it.

-- Marc

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


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#4 posted 04-26-2009 05:51 AM

Looks too good for a dog’s claws to scratch up ;-)) Nice job.

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

View Alan's profile


443 posts in 3857 days

#5 posted 04-26-2009 06:17 AM

Love it. Great job.

-- Alan, Prince George

View woodworm's profile


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#6 posted 04-26-2009 08:15 AM

Very nice one. I like through dovetail and tenon joints being exposed that way.
The dog must be wondering whom this beautiful stepstool belongs to.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 3978 days

#7 posted 04-26-2009 04:06 PM

Well, thanks for the comments. I wanted this piece to match the rest of my daughters bedroom set, but I did go a bit overboard on it. It was fun to build, and was great practice on dovetails, and my first attempt at wedged tennons. I sprayed it with laquer to help keep the little paws from scratching it up.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View mmh's profile


3677 posts in 4175 days

#8 posted 04-26-2009 05:14 PM

Beautifully done. It’s quite an elegant, modern piece and I would definately consider something of this quality in my home. It looks to be quite sturdy too. A very marketable piece.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View Dusty56's profile


11850 posts in 4141 days

#9 posted 04-26-2009 07:37 PM

Beautiful stool…..hopefully the dog won’t slip on that slick finish : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View a1Jim's profile


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#10 posted 04-26-2009 07:39 PM

so nice great wood contrast

View steiner's profile


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#11 posted 04-26-2009 08:48 PM

Really nice design.

-- Scott

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246 posts in 3813 days

#12 posted 04-26-2009 09:09 PM

and yes your right.. those one day projects are a great break from the projects that go on for months, great work. great choice of wood.. hand cut dovetails are a nice detail.. you can’t get a machine cut to look that good

-- It's not a sickness, i can stop buying tools anytime.

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

597 posts in 3770 days

#13 posted 04-27-2009 12:32 AM

I love it!

Question: Did you literally drive the wedges in after the tenon was inserted into the mortise, or was it a “kinder and gentler” process of inserting the wedges into a cut groove prior to assembly with the sides? If you drove them in after the tenon was in the mortise, did you cut the tenons a little under-sized, knowing the wedges were eventually coming and would expand the length of the tenons?

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 3978 days

#14 posted 04-27-2009 02:09 AM

The mortice had a slight angle to it, so when the wedges were put in , it expanded the tennon locking it into place. If you plan on trying it out, make sure to drill a hole at the end of the slot on the tennon to relieve stress when the shim is driven in. This will help to make sure it doesn’t crack.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

597 posts in 3770 days

#15 posted 04-27-2009 02:21 AM


So you cut slots for the wedges before assembly, and you drill a hold from the side along the bottom of that slot? Is it as though the drill bit is riding (drilling) along the floor of the valley (the slot)?

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

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