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My mom had requested a foot stool for her place about 6 months ago. The original plan was to make something out of PVC pipe with a top that would be light and easy to make. Well, 2 weeks before Christmas, I decide I am FINALLY going to make her a stool and make it mostly out of WOOD. I ended up using some alder as the wood of choice. I used it on my previous picnic table condiment holders and found it easy to work with and finished really well. The wife was in charge of the upholstery which was undecided or not requested initially.

So, I started thinking of a design and what elements I wanted to put into it. I decided that plain alder was TOO boring in itself so I planned to add a contrasting wood strip, use full dovetails and make some kind of designed legs.

And because of my design choices, I would be learning how to make full dovetails, do pattern routing including making a pattern, using a new router, bushing and trim bit, a new dovetail jig and learning the art of glue ups on dovetails as well as using my planer to make the pieces all uniform sizes. Even the thin strips of contrasting wood.

Deciding on a leg pattern was first after the glue ups. I went with a curved design because it kind of looked classic. SO after creating a pattern out of 1/4" Masonite, I broke out my new router, put in the bushing and a new router bit and whala…

Then came the dovetails. And what an adventure that was. I broke out my never used dovetail jig and I learned a couple of things during testing on scrap pieces of wood. 1, even after you follow the directions, you sometimes find out after the fact, there MAY be some errors. 2, grain direction makes a HUGE impact on dovetails. 3, carbide is pretty tough stuff. Those were supposed to be tails…

Note 1: when using the Rockler dovetail jig making through dovetails, the shim goes on the BOTTOM of the wood. lol
Note 2: Find scrap pieces of wood with the proper grain direction…
Note 3: Although it is not good for it, carbide cuts metal
So here is the finished through dovetails after correcting the mistakes on scrap wood.

Then onto gluing and clamp up.. Need to work on better method to put glue on dovetails. the joints were starting to set before I could get the clamps on so it took some persuasion with a mallet to fully seat the dovetails.

And on to the first of 2 coats of the Zinsser Seal coat shellac. It really brought out the grain and warmth of color of the alder. Not to mention all the nice contrast of the poplar and end grain of the dovetails. Final coat was General Finishes Semi-gloss High Performance Poly.

And here is the finished product. The top was installed with pocket screws so if the top covering needs to be redone, it will be easy. The wife decided that since my mom loves cats, it is upholstered with the pattern in a flannel. It is nice and soft for bare feet.

Overall, this was a really fun project and I learned a LOT with the pattern routing, dovetails and some actual thought to the design. Now on to bigger and better things.



· Registered
12,447 Posts
Mike, nice job. The DT's are tight and clean. Your Mom should be pretty pleased with it.

· Registered
8,101 Posts
It looks fantastic Mike.

There are certainly learning curves with machines too. They don't run themselves;-)

· Premium Member
8,022 Posts
Great looking stool Mike! You went all out on the extras here…the contrasting wood, the leg cutouts and the dovetails look awesome! Compliments to your wife as well on the upolstery job! Thanks for sharing.

· Registered
259 Posts
It's beautiful. Great design, like the curved feet and the dovetails look amazing. I'm sure she's happy. Great job to you and your wife!