Another Inlayed Folding Step Stool

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Project by ytsejamr posted 11-16-2009 06:27 PM 5198 views 7 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So I made this butterfly inlay step stool earlier in the summer. Click for details

I bought wood to make a second stool at the same time. Well after much frustration, both with the inlay and with the finish, I’m finally done with it.

The wood is goncala alves, sometimes known as tiger wood. It’s really heavy. The finish is Behlens Rock Hard varnish.

The inlays are my son’s silhouette and footprints and are tinted epoxy.

I made this for my wife, but something tells me my soon to be 2 year old will be using it too.

Now, let me tell you about my frustrations. Ugh! I ended up making a second set of steps. The bottom steps were not totally flat. I tried to joint them down, but ended up with steps that were too thin. The head inlay was probably my 5th attempt. I first tried it with maple . . . didn’t like it so I routed it out and tried epoxy. I didn’t make enough epoxy so I ended up with an inlay that had multiple tints and amount of air bubbles. So I routed that out and tried the inlay again. I got a good inlay that time but realized you could see through it and see the remnants of the maple inlay. Mad So I cut another step and tried the inlay again. Too many bubbles again, so I routed it out and finally got one that was good enough.

And then came the finish . . . .

What an ordeal. I’m pretty sure I’m never using rock hard varnish again. Let’s just say I tried spraying it. Tried putting it on with a brush. Tried wiping it on . . . Ugh. I ended up going with a foam brush. I lost count of how many times I sanded the finish off to start over. It’s just so glossy that any little imperfection shows.

Ok, enough rambling. I’m done with that thing. The wife and kid are free to beat the crap out of it . . . I don’t care.

12 comments so far

View sharad's profile


1117 posts in 4077 days

#1 posted 11-16-2009 07:17 PM

Great step stool , nice inlay and beautiful photographs. You have admirable patience.

-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

View Vince85's profile


23 posts in 3450 days

#2 posted 11-17-2009 05:16 AM

Very Nice!! This may be a stupid question but I haven’t dealt with inlays much especially ones that nice, my question is how do you do it. im guessing you had a jig of some sort if you routed it out that much?

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3285 posts in 3985 days

#3 posted 11-17-2009 06:35 AM

I don’t know what I like better—the stool or the pictures! Even if your wife and son wear out the stool, you’ll still have really great memories with those photos! I give you a lot of credit, sticking to it after all those challenges. It turned out terrific.

I do hope that precious little guy can’t get his fingers pinched in it though. :-(

-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View a1Jim's profile


117480 posts in 3849 days

#4 posted 11-17-2009 07:51 AM

You might be frustrated with the process but this is a fantastic folding step stool . a treasure for your family AND YOU MADE IT. Great job and heart warming photos of your little guy. an A+++++++

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View ytsejamr's profile


84 posts in 3868 days

#5 posted 11-17-2009 02:36 PM

The inlays are “freehand” inlays. Cut out a pattern on the scroll saw, use that and scribe around it. Route out the recess with a hand held router. Usually you inlay the pattern you cut out, but I went with tinted epoxy instead.

View Vince85's profile


23 posts in 3450 days

#6 posted 11-17-2009 04:42 PM

So you just cut out the pattern in a piece of scrap and use that as a router jig to cut it in the main piece? And what do you use for tint?

View ytsejamr's profile


84 posts in 3868 days

#7 posted 11-17-2009 04:46 PM

Almost . . . I don’t use the piece as a jig . . . more of just a tracing pattern to scribe the outline. Marc has a good tutorial:

I happen to work for a company that begins and ends with the letter X. I have access to all the tinting powder I need. So yeah, I used black copier toner for my tint. :-)

View Vince85's profile


23 posts in 3450 days

#8 posted 11-17-2009 09:55 PM

Thanks for the tips I’m new to woodworking so it will be a few years before I try something like that haha

View jkornfeind's profile


8 posts in 4012 days

#9 posted 01-09-2010 09:03 AM

Beautiful step and awesome pictures. Definitely sounds like you has some roadblocks. Congratulations on sticking with it, it looks like it was worth it!

View JAGWAH's profile


929 posts in 3356 days

#10 posted 02-24-2010 10:36 PM

Sharad, Great looking stool.

As it turns out I have a client needing a folding stool and this looks great.

Whats your height to the top of the first step from the floor? How would you assess it’s strength? Would it support a person weighing 150-175lbs?

-- ~Just A Guy With A Hammer~

View ytsejamr's profile


84 posts in 3868 days

#11 posted 02-25-2010 09:54 PM

The first step is a little under 10 inches or so. As far as strength, I’d say it’s very strong. I’m over 200lbs and it holds me just fine. My guess is that the strap hinge takes a lot of the pressure. So I’d make sure that is securely attached.

View JAGWAH's profile


929 posts in 3356 days

#12 posted 02-26-2010 12:52 AM

Thanks I just ordered the June issue this was in about an hour before my friend told me he has a copy to loan. Wouldn’t you know it.

Looks like I’ll be building at least 3, 1 of cherry, 1 of Bubinga and 1 of quarter sawn white oak. Maybe 2 more, I’m tying to talk a couple more clients into them.

I find I work better when I can build multiples. Lowers labor charges thus increases profit.
Thank you for posting this.

-- ~Just A Guy With A Hammer~

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