Folding Step Stool

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Project by SlideRule posted 09-10-2015 04:31 PM 2295 views 16 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was a present for my wife so that she can reach the highest shelves in the built-ins I did for our Master Closet. It was a Valentine’s Day present…that I finished in September…a little late…

Most of the parts are oak, with contrasting walnut for the steps. The steps swivel on a piece of 3/8” threaded rod that spans the two vertical pieces on the front. The top step rests on the horizontal stretcher on the rear legs (which is beveled so that it sits flat) and the bottom step hangs from the top step via a parallelogram linkage essentially. The supports for the linkages are hand-dovetailed into the steps (tough to see in the pictures).

The front frame is all hand-cut mortise and tenons, while the rear leg/frame assembly is wedged mortise and tenons.

The finish was a hand-rubbed BLO/varnish/mineral spirits mixture—it really did a nice job of bringing out the richness of the walnut.

Finally, I tried Gorilla Glue for the first time (had some lying around from a project where some melamine needed to be glued together)...never again. Gorilla Glue is just good marketing, bad glue. Luckily I tried it on two small pieces (gluing the “rings” to the dowels…more decorative than anything else) and every one popped off under light sanding pressure. Reglued with good ol’ Titebond…no problems. Titebond yes, Gorilla Glue no.

11 comments so far

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3431 days

#1 posted 09-10-2015 04:34 PM

This is a very nice and practical project.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Redoak49's profile


4283 posts in 2553 days

#2 posted 09-10-2015 08:48 PM

That is a great step stool. Love the colors of the wood together.

Was this your own plan or did you use plans from somewhere? I would love to build one in red oak and would like to find some plans.

View SlideRule's profile


20 posts in 1554 days

#3 posted 09-10-2015 11:01 PM

Hey Redoak49, I didn’t have any plans…just sort of made it up as I went along. Figuring out all the angles etc was pretty tricky, but they’re all the SAME angle, basically, or one of two angles (the inside angle and the outside angle). So once I had the angles cut at the top of the back legs where they lean on the front frame, I would always go back to that one piece as a reference for my bevel gauge.

If I made it again, I’d make it a little narrower…the steps are about 18” wide and probably only need to be about 14”.

View Pointer's profile


449 posts in 1675 days

#4 posted 09-11-2015 01:16 AM

Great little piece. Congrats on being able to design it yourself.

-- Joe - I am not entirely worthless, I can always serve as a bad example.

View MassMatt's profile


16 posts in 1730 days

#5 posted 09-11-2015 10:07 AM

Really nice contrasting woods and very practical item!

View Siegs's profile


50 posts in 1617 days

#6 posted 09-11-2015 02:00 PM

Looks great. I am starting to need one for the kitchen because I just can’t stretch like I use to. Thanks for the idea.

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 2908 days

#7 posted 09-11-2015 03:07 PM

nice build

View SteveGaskins's profile


762 posts in 3151 days

#8 posted 09-11-2015 03:56 PM

Nice project. Added to favorites.

-- Steve, South Carolina,

View Ivan's profile


15293 posts in 3432 days

#9 posted 09-11-2015 06:21 PM

Pretty challenging project! Turned awesome with those two wood types.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View MikeSpanky's profile


179 posts in 1927 days

#10 posted 09-14-2015 04:26 AM

I love it. I’m actually planning to make one for my wife to use in the kitchen. I’ve look at several but I really like yours. Hope you don’t mind if I make one similar?

-- There's no crying in woodworking. Just measure and cut again.

View SlideRule's profile


20 posts in 1554 days

#11 posted 09-14-2015 01:40 PM

By all means, Mike, go ahead.

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