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I have been blessed with a granddaughter, Fern, and I’m dreaming up projects I might build to entertain and assist her. I’m making use of Pinterest to locate ideas which I then pin to a board to share with my wife, Shawn, and my daughters, Amanda and Michelle. I’ve given each of them access to pin to the board, too, in case they want to recommend a project. Here’s the link.

Projects for Fern

I began with pictures of stools as a step stool seemed a logical first project. Although Fern is eleven months old and not yet walking I figure the time will come when she needs access to the cookie jar her mom has placed well out of reach.

With a selection of stool possibilities Amanda, Fern’s mom, can pick the one she likes. That seems more practical than a sawdust-making Grandpa spinning out of control making anything and everything.

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Amanda and Michelle both loved this stool originally posted to Pinterest by user, Her Tool Belt.

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Imagine my surprise when I clicked on the picture and found an article describing the design and offering an accurate cut list for the parts. Sweet! Poke around on Pinterest. There’s a wealth of information waiting there. Thank you, Amy, at Her Tool Belt for the idea and project guidance.

I was working with wood scraps from the shop and adjusted a few aspects of the stool accordingly. For example my rails for the upper and lower boxes are 2½” wide.

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A dry fit allows me see how the final project might look. My treads are poplar with a beautiful grain pattern, and I hope the stain color chosen by the customer brings that out.

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At this point I can send a photo to Amanda so she can get a feel for the size of the stool.

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When Amanda was a toddler I made a toy chest for her bedroom. She fell against the sharp edge of that chest and had her first injury that left a scar (no stitches). I learned a powerful lesson.

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Sharp edges and children do not mix well. A router could be used to round the exposed edges of the stool but I used a low-tech wood rasp.

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I also cut 45° miters on the exposed corners of the lower tread for the same reason.

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I usually have female adult supervision in the shop to keep me straight but I was soloing. I marked the top of the four sides of each box with an x and quit for the night. Next afternoon I assembled the boxes, forgot about the x’s and had several pockets pointing the wrong way. No project is perfect. Just do the best you can and remember that it beats store-bought in pride, price, and longevity.

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In the product test phase I decided to try the stool. I’m 200”+ pounds and heard distinct sounds of protest so I made another design change and installed carriage bolts as shown.

Paint the frame before installing the treads, and a stubby paint brush works wonders in such tight quarters. At least that is what Shawn told me as she applied the finish paint. I was busy cleaning primer off my arms and forehead.

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I finished the treads with stain (Min-Wax Dark Walnut #2716) and added two coats of wipe-on polyurethane.

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Fern crawled to the stool and pulled herself up.

The look of glee is priceless, as though she knew this was something for her.

Kid tested. Mother approved. Ship it.


Update 10/25/2017

At 22 months Fern is now running and climbing. She loves her stool.

Step Stool In Use (1)

Step Stool In Use (2)