Simple STEP STOOL
Woodcraft Magazine|October - November 2021
A fresh approach to a Shaker tradition
Chad McClung

I enjoy Shaker furniture—it’s beautiful in its simplicity and it possesses an elegant utility. A particular piece has always caught my eye: the long-back hanging step stool. These unique steppers take on many shapes and sizes, but the basic design elements—a single step and an elongated back with a hanging hole—have remained defining characteristics. I wanted to incorporate modern design elements into this traditional piece while making a project that’s easy for anyone to build with a modest set of tools.

A design conference with the staff yielded a clever means to make the back and front leg from one glued-up assembly. We also developed easy methods for routing mortises and sawing tenons, along with a few other valuable tips. In many traditional versions of this stool, dovetails join the front leg and step—and you can adapt this design to do that if you’d like to. However, I wanted to simplify the joinery. While not as invincible as dovetails, the screwed construction approach will endure for generations.

In addition to providing adults a step up to high cabinet shelves, this stool elevates tykes to counter height for handwashing or helping in the kitchen. It will also allow them to take a peek at workbench activities in the shop. But when not in use, you can hang it up out of the way and out of reach (see onlineEXTRAS).

Order of Work

• Glue up back/leg panel

• Cut leg arches and rout mortises

• Separate, then bandsaw to shape

• Make the stretcher, and assemble

• Make and attach step boards

• Sand and paint

In this all-poplar piece, the leg and back provide a wide, stable stance and feature arches cut out at the drill press. Their scalloped edges add visual interest while reducing mass. An arched stretcher connects them via strong mortise-and-tenon joinery. The two overhanging bandsawn step boards sweep rearward around the long, narrow upright. The steps are drilled for counterbores and screwed to the top of the front leg and the back’s shoulders. Wood plugs conceal the screws.

onlineEXTRAS

• Full-size patterns

• Free project: Peg Rack

Make the back and leg

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