Thursday, January 14, 2021

How To Build A Wood Step Stool - Simple & Easy Beginner Woodworking Project

My boys and I love woodworking projects. I have a scrap box of wood that they regularly dig through dreaming up ideas of what to build. Because they are beginners and can get frustrated easily I like to find woodworking projects that are simple for them to do with help from me and result in a cool and useful finished project. 

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A few weeks ago while I was out running errands I decided to pick up a few 2 x 4's (8ft long) from Home Depot. When I got home I told the boys that I had a big surprise for them in the van! They were a little confused as they pulled the lumber out from the back of the minivan but figured I had a project in mind for them to do and they were soon pretty excited to get working. 

Of course I had a project in mind and today I wanted to share what my boys and I made. Hopefully this will encourage you and your children to get building! 

Our project was a small wood step stool! I found this super cool idea on Pinterest (don't forget to follow me!) and knew this was the project for us. 

Since we are just starting out on our woodworking adventures there are tools and supplies that we just haven't acquired yet. Because of this, we had to do a little more improvising to make things work in order to complete the project. It is totally OK if you don't have all the cool tools yet - don't let this stop you from building and doing that woodworking project! Adding tools to your collection may take awhile because they can be pretty expensive but when you do buy that next tool make sure you buy good quality tools that will last for years to come. 

Here is my short wish list of tools I'm saving up for: 

How To Build A Simple Wood Step Stool

Our project today is a simple wood stool that is made from one 2 x 4 x 8 board! Here are the supplies you will need to make your own wood stool:

Supplies List

- one 2 x 4 (8ft long)

- 2 1/2 inch wood screws

- wood glue

- tape measure

- pencil

- sandpaper (80 grit & 120 grit)

- drill & drill bits (here is the one I use)

- miter saw (if you don't have one a hand saw + miter box works too or a circular saw)

- saw horse (optional - I love this adjustable one)

- safety glasses

Cut List

3 - 12" pieces (steps)

2 - 10 1/2" pieces (base side bottom)

1 - 9" piece (back support)

2 - 7" pieces (base side top)

STEP 1: The first step is to measure and cut the 2 x 4 board into the smaller pieces according to the above cut list. A miter saw is ideal but can be an intimidating tool for a beginner. If you have one great, but if not a simple miter box and hand saw will do the trick. I actually cut the board down using a circular saw while my oldest used a miter box and hand saw. I used our adjustable saw horse to clamp down the boards as I cut them. 

Tip - Learning all about a tape measure is an important skill for a new woodworker to understand.  If you need a refresher on what all the little lines on a tape measure are here is a simple info graphic to help you out:


Pin for later!

STEP 2: Once the boards are cut sand all the edges so they are smooth and splinter free. You should start with rougher low grit number sandpaper (like 80 grit) and then use a higher grit paper like a 120 to really get your wood smooth. 

Tip - If you want your stool painted or stained now is the time to do that! Just make sure to let the wood dry for 24 hours so that the paint or stain is completely dry.

STEP 3: Take the two 7" pieces and you are going to drill two angled pilot holes on each piece making sure you drill the same direction for each hole. Pilot holes will help prevent the wood from splitting when you screw the wood to another piece of wood. Use a skinny drill bit that is smaller in diameter than your screws. 

I laid my board flat and marked up 1" from the long edge and about 2" from the short edge and that is where I drilled my first hole. I did the same for the second hole except I measured from the opposite side. The purpose of the pilot hole is to make a path for the screws you will be screwing into the board to attach it to another board. The path you are drilling should start from the long flat side of the board and protrude out through the 2" long side of the board at an angle. 

Tip - using a Kreg jig for this step would be ideal however since I didn't have one I improvised. 

STEP 4: Take the two 10 1/2" pieces and lay them flat their sides then place the two 7" pieces on top of each of the 10 1/2" pieces making sure to line up the ends. Spread a little wood glue on bottom of the 7" piece before screwing it to the larger piece of wood. Insert screws in the pilot holes and go ahead and secure the two boards together. The screws should penetrate through the bottom of the 7" board and into the top of the 10 1/2" piece.

STEP 5: Now we are going to insert the 9" piece for support to our step stool. Prop up the two connected base pieces (7" & 10 1/2") you attached together in the previous step and place the 9" long piece between them placing the board evenly between where the two boards connect. Use a pencil and make two small pencil marks about 1" apart on the outside of each base where you will drill two pilot holes. Drill two pilot holes through each of the base pieces. Then screw in the 9" piece connecting it to both sides of the bases. 

STEP 6: Time to attach the steps! You should have three 12" pieces of wood left. These are the steps. Place two 12" pieces flat across the top of the base. Mark each board 1" from each side where you will drill pilot holes to connect the board to the base. Do this to each side for each board then drill pilot holes through the step pieces. 

After you attach the two top step pieces the next thing you will do is attach the bottom step. Follow the same process for marking and drilling pilot holes. Then screw on the board completing the last step.


That's it! You did it! My boys are loving their new step stools. One is using his as a step stool to stand on when he needs to feed his pet toads which are in an aquarium on top of a tall dresser. My oldest uses his step stool in his closet when he needs to reach toys and treasures that are stored on higher shelves. 

I love that this little step stool can be easily tucked away and isn't huge and bulky! My boys chose not to paint or stain their step stools but are thinking about "customizing" their stools using sharpie markers in the near future. Why not - these stools hardly cost anything and when will they ever get a chance to color on real furniture with markers! 

More fun & easy woodworking projects:

I hope you enjoyed making a simple and easy wood step stool as much as we did. If you are looking for more fun and easy projects to do with your children check out these great projects and tutorials:

Build Your Own Tabletop Hook & Ring Bimini Game

How To Make A Wood Growth Chart Ruler

I'd love to hear from you - what woodworking projects have you been crafting? 

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