Monday, May 25, 2015

Building The Family Handyman Ridiculously Simple Shop Stool

My latest project was the Ridiculously Simple Shop Stool. The goal of such a thing is to have something that is useful for sitting, a short step ladder, or as a fairly portable work surface. It is not necessarily pretty (hence it is called a 'shop stool' instead of a 'stepstool')
Plans for the Ridiculously Simple Shop Stool from The Family Handyman
Some important characteristics is that it is built from 1X dimensional lumber (so the wood is cheap) and it is all short straight cuts, which is important because I do not have a mitre saw, a table saw, or a router. 

My backyard workshop
My backyard workshop
First step was to cut the lumber. I got 1X3, 1X4, 1X6, and 1X8 lumber from The Home Depot. They cut each board once (that is there policy) so that I can fit it in my car.  I recently purchased a Rockwell Compact Circular Saw so I now could make straight cuts on 1X or 2X lumber, which was very helpful for this project.  A couple of nice features included the fact that it is small for a circular saw (single hand operation), so I could use it and a carpenters square without clamping.  Also, using bench cookies would stabilize the board by itself (small circular saw means less vibration).


Cut boards for making the Ridiculously Simple shop stool
Cut wood for two shop stools

Measure twice, cut once
Cutting boards with a Compact Circular Saw and a Carpenters square.

Next step was sanding the boards and staining them. I used a rasp to break the corners, then three rounds with sand paper.  Staining was with Dutch Oil.

Staining wood for step stools
Staining boards

For assembly the hard part was the fact that 1X dimensional lumber is prone to splitting. I split my first two, then I noted that the instructions say to pre-drill holes to prevent splitting.  After that it was a lot easier.

The next tricky part was getting the steps in. The side slabs make it hard to get access to the tops of the steps. I think pocket screws would work, if I was up to learning how to do pocket screws.  Another new purchase was a right-angle driver/drill head for my Rigdig Jobmax multi-tool. The advantage is that I can drive in wood screws without as much space as the average cordless screwdriver.

After getting all the supports and steps glued, pre-drilled, and screwed in, we had the structure of the shop stool.


Ridiculously Simple Shop Stool completed
Complete shop stool

Next was to put finishing touches on it.  Scrapped off the excess glue.  Added non-stick safety tape on the steps.  Added hinges so that the second half of the top can be opened to make a stool top or folded to allow for steps. Added felt pads on the feet and on the top to protect the floor and to soften the sound when the top is opened or closed.

Ridiculously Simple Shop Stool
Two completed shop stools in the kitchen

A nice little project. It turns out to require use of two new tools (the Rockwell compact circular saw and the Rigdig Jobmax Right Angle driver). It will get multiple uses, as stools my in-laws like to eat at the kitchen counter when they are at our place so they can use two stools.  The steps are tall enough that my 4-yr old son can now help food prep and operate the microwave. The stool tops are good for side tables in our living room (so we can sit at our couches and eat). They also make for good work surfaces in the kitchen (that will always be clear because we need to use them for other reasons).

Very nice project. Thanks to The Family Handyman for providing the plans.
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