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These broad-backed beasts have a lot of appeal: they eat nothing, are quiet, and take up little floor space. They just stand about with wooden-faced docility, ready to serve as footstools for adults or seats for young riders.

Connecting their front- and rear-leg sections is a foam- and fabric-covered central box (it's an inverted U shape) that's a comfortable seat or footrest. We used leather-colored vinyl to cover the pig, gray wool on the raccoon, fake fur for the panda, synthetic fleece on the sheep, and tawny fake suede for the King of the Footbeasts.

One basic pattern makes any animal's body; head and tail parts vary. Each finished stool is about 14 inches wide (16 for the sheep), 15 to 16 inches high, and 20 to 22 inches long. Allow a weekened for painting and applying the pelt. Materials should run between $40 and $80, depending on type of wood and fabric you choose.

What you'll need

Except for the pig, which requires an 8-foot length of 2-by-10, each beast is built from two 6-foot lengths of wood: a 1-by-10 or 2-by-10 for the legs and a 1-by-12 for head and tail features. Which wood you choose depends on whether you plan to paint the animal or leave it natural: our pig is made of redwood, the lion of clear fir, and the other three with clear pine. The body box is of 1/2- or 5/8-inch plywood or scrap wood. The scale drawings below show the basic dimensions.

Three blocks of medium-density polyurethane foam cover the body box. The top piece is 3 inches thick; the sides are 2 inches thick. (For the wider-bodied sheep, use only 3-inch foam.) To buy foam and foam-adhesive spray, check the yellow pages under Foam & Sponge Rubber. Have foam precut to fit the sides and top of the body box.

Each pelt requires a 20- by 42-inch piece of fabric. Buy 2/3 yard--3/4 yard for the lion or raccoon, to include their tails (which also require a small amount of dacron batting). Material should be sturdy and tightly woven to take wear.

For other supplies, you'll need a dozen 1-1/2-inch #8 woodscrews (20 for animals with paws), 1-1/4-inch finishing nails (also 2-1/2-inch nails for pig and lion), wood glue, a box of pushpins, a heavy-duty stapler, and 3/8-inch dowels. We painted three animals with acrylic enamel, finished the pig with flat polyurethane, and sealed the lion with a penetrating oil sealer. Paint or 3/4-inch dowel is an option for eyes.

You'll need a saber saw to cut out the various body parts, and an electric drill with countersinking bit for the woodscrews, a 3/8-inch bit for the dowel holes, and a 3/4-inch bit for the pig's eyes. You also need a hammer, screwdriver, drill-centering guide (optional), and two 24-inch bar or pipe clamps.

Start with the legs

To get enough width for the front and rear legs, join together two 16-inch-long pieces of the 1-by-10 (for raccoon, panda, sheep) or 2-by-10 (pig, lion). If you have access to a table saw, rip one edge off the board so there's a clean, square edge where the sides butt together.

Using a drill-centering guide, drill holes into the butting edges to receive two short dowels; make holes in the upper part only, since you cut into the lower portion to shape the legs. Dowel, glue, and clamp the halves together, wiping off excess glue.

(If you don't have a dowel-centering guide, reinforce the glue joint by gluing and nailing a scrap of 1-by-4 to the inner side of each pair after clamping.)

While the glue dries, enlarge and transfer patterns for all parts onto paper, cut out, then trace onto the remaining lengths of wood. Using a saber saw, cut out all pieces, sand edges, and check alignment (curves of head shapes should match).

Then glue and nail head pieces together, starting with nose piece, working from behind. Don't glue the lion's head to the mane pieces until they have been stained.

When glue holding the leg pieces has dried, take off clamps and sand off excess glue. Trace leg patterns on the wood, making sure the pattern is square to the wood's join line and centered on it. Then cut out leg shapes.

Body box. Cut the 15-1/2-inch-long body pieces out of plywood or scrap wood and glue and nail the top onto the sides.

Draw a line across the inside of the front and rear legs 4-1/2 inches from leg bottoms. Place the body box on these lines, center it, and trace outline. (Top of box should be about 2 inches from center top of legs.)

In each body box outline on legs, drill six pilot holes from inside through to outside. Then place front legs on top of body box, aligned with outline, and drill back into the box sides with a countersinking bit, following the pilot holes. Glue and screw the leg piece to the box.

Repeat for rear leg assembly; make sure all legs are flat on the floor. Fill counter-sunk screw holes with pieces of dowel.

Trim dowels and sand legs. Add head and tail features to body by gluing and nailing from behind. In bottom of each paw (raccoon, panda, and lion), countersink 2 screws up into legs. Paint or glue on short pieces of 3/4-inch dowel for eyes (raccoon, panda, and sheep); drill holes for pig's eyes and snout. Seal or paint each animal.

Foam and fabric for bodies and tails

Using foam-adhesive spray, mount foam blocks to top and sides of the body box; you must coat each contacting surface. When blocks are in position, there's a right-angled void between the top and each side. To fill it, cut edges off the top and glue the resulting three-sided blocks between top and side pieces.

Stretching the fabric pelts taut is easier with a helper. Start by centering and draping the fabric over the body box so it hangs loosely to the sides. Pull back the foam at the top center next to the front and rear legs and spray some from adhesive on the exposed edge (keep spray off wood). Also spray the underside edge of the fabric at that point and firmly tuck it between the wood and foam. Fold the edges of the fabric along front and rear legs and work it between the wood and foam. Tack fabric temporarily to the bottom edge of the body box.

It takes time and steady pressure to put even tension on the fabric. While pressing down on the foam, start in the center on one side, pull the fabric tight, and retack with pushpins along the bottom edge, working out toward the legs. Repeat on the other side, pulling harder so fabric and foam look evenly rounded. Work back and forth, drawing the fabric and foam tighter and smoother. Fold the remaining fabric up under the body so it, too, is smooth. Staple liberally to the inside of the box, then remove pushpins.

The lion and the raccoon have fabric tails stuffed with polyester batting.

To make the lion's tail, start with a 6- by 24-inch piece of synthetic suede. With right sides together, sew a 1/2-inch seam down the length; turn right side out. With scissors, fringe one end: make 3-inch-long cuts 1/4 inch apart. Close that end with a 1/4-inch-wide strip of fabric. Stuff the tail and staple or tack it in place.

For the raccoon's tail, start with two 7-by 22-inch pieces of gray wool and applique 1-1/2-inch-wide bands of cut out, following both pieces. Fold and cut out, following pattern on page 96. Sew the two pieces together with right sides facing. Turn right side out, stuff, and tack in place.
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Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:how to make wooden footstools
Date:Dec 1, 1985
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