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Ridiculously simple stools: three stools inspired by the concept "simpler is better".

I love projects that allow me to walk into my workshop with a few boards under one arm and then walk out a few hours later with something sturdy, useful and attractive. In other words, I like simple projects. Even more, I like ridiculously simple projects. I like them so much that a few years ago I wrote a book called "Ridiculously Simple Furniture Projects."

Here are three stools inspired by that "simpler is better" concept.

JIGSAW STOOL

Glue-and-screw furniture can look awesome

The three projects in this article have a few things in common: They're all stools, they're all made with dimensional lumber or plywood, and they're all better looking because they've been "dressed up" with a round-over router bit.

How often do I use that bit? So often that I have it in a dedicated router so that it's always ready to go. Round-over bits have a way of making jigsaw cuts look smoother, straight cuts look straighter, cheap wood look classier and paint jobs look better. Round-over bits also make wood furniture more comfortable to sit on and touch.

WORKSHOP STOOL

Flip the top down and you have a stool for sitting or working; flip it up and you have a small stepladder for reaching. Build two of them and you have sawhorses for supporting sheets of plywood or long boards when working.

Begin by building the two side ladders using the spacing shown in Figure A. Use a square to ensure each "rung" is square to the leg, then secure each using glue and 1-1/4-in. screws (Photo 1). Use a 1/4-in. round-over bit to soften the outer edges of each leg. Stand the two ladder sides facing each other and install the two steps and the back brace. Predrill the holes to prevent splitting.

Cut the two top boards to length and round over the top edges. Secure the two top edges to each other using 2-1/2-in. no-mortise hinges; regular hinges will also work but will leave a slightly wider gap. Position the hinged-together top boards so they overhang the sides of the legs by about 3/4 in. and the front and back by about 3/8 in. Attach one of the top boards to the top "rungs" of the ladder using 2-in. screws.

1 BUILD THE TWO SIDE LADDERS

Cut the pieces to length, then glue and screw the crosspieces to the legs. Use a square to ensure the assemblies are square.

2 PUT IT ALL TOGETHER

Attach the two steps and the back brace to the ladder sides. Use hinges to join the two top pieces, then secure one of the boards to the top "rungs."

JIGSAW STOOL

You want simplicity and economy? These stools are designed so you can create eight of the short ones or four of the tall ones (or combinations thereof) from a single sheet of plywood. Here we'll show you how to build the short version; the taller stool is a couple inches wider, but employs the same concept to build.

Rip a 24 x 24-in. piece of plywood into 18-in. and 6-in. strips, then draw "crosshairs" (Photo 1) to locate the center of the larger board. Drive a drywall screw in the center and use that as a pivot point for swinging a 7-in.radius circle. Draw lines 3/8 in. away from the crosshairs on each side (Figure A) to create 3/4-in.-thick layout marks for cutting the interlocking notches and installing the leg brace blocks later on.

Drill a 1/2-in. pilot hole in the lower notch as shown in Figure A, then insert a fine-tooth jigsaw blade and cut out the round top. Use your jigsaw to cut out the legs and the 3/4-in. x 2-1/2-in. notches for interlocking the legs. Use a router with a 1/4-in. round-over bit to soften both sides of the top and legs except for those edges along the tops of the two legs (Photo 2). If you don't have a router, ease the sharp edges with sandpaper. Cut the triangular blocks from the 6-in.-wide cutoff (Photo 1) and secure two of them to the underside of the top disc with glue and 1-1/4-in. all-purpose screws. Slip the legs into place as shown in Photo 3, then secure them to the blocks using 2-in. screws. Add the other two triangular blocks and apply a finish of your choice. We applied sanding sealer, a dark stain and then a coat of polyurethane.

1 LAY OUT THE LEGS AND TOP

I Rip the plywood into 18-in. and 6-in. strips. Draw "crosshairs" on the larger piece, drive a screw in the center, hook your tape over it, then with a pencil snugged against the 7-in. mark, draw the circle. Cut four support blocks from the narrow piece.

2 CUT OUT THE PARTS AND ROUT THE EDGES

Use a jigsaw to cut out the parts (see Figure A), then use a router with a 1/4-in. round-over bit to ease the edges as shown.

3 ASSEMBLE THE STOOL

Screw two triangular blocks where the top layout marks intersect (kitty corner from each other], then secure the legs using 2-in. screws. Install the other two blocks, then apply a finish.

WHAT IT TAKES

TIME: 2 hours per stool

COST: $8

SKILL LEVEL: Beginner

TOOLS: Jigsaw, drill, router and round-over bit

Overall dimensions

Short version: 18" W x 18" D x 12-3/4" H

Tall version: 20" W x 20" D x 21-3/4" H

Materials List

Short stool: 3/4" x 24" x 24" plywood

Tall stool: 3/4" x 24" x 48" plywood

1-1/4" screws, 2" screws, wood glue

Materials List

16' 1x3, 2'1x4, 3'1x6, 4'1x8, hinges, 1-1/4" screws, 2" screws, wood glue

FLIP-FLOP STEP STOOL

You'll find plenty of uses for a flip-flop stool. With the back swung up, it's the perfect chair for little kids to plunk down on. With the back swung down, it's the perfect step stool for reaching slightly-out-of-reach faucets, shelves and cabinets--for kids of all ages.

Begin by cutting the two sides to length and laying out the boards (Photo 1 and Figure A). Note that the sides will be mirror images. To mark the curved sides, hook your tape over the lower corners then swing 15-in.-radius curves on each side. Use a pint can to create the rounded inner edges of the legs. The positions of the pivot and dowel holes are critical, so measure carefully. The pivot hole goes all the way through the board, but the dowel holes are only 1/2 in. deep. Drill the holes, then use a jigsaw to cut out the parts. Use a 1/4-in. round-over bit or sandpaper to soften all the edges.

Connect the 1x10 bottom shelf and 1x4 back brace to create an "L." Secure this assembly to the sides so the top edge of the 1x4 is flush with the upper back corner of the sides. Use 2x4 blocks to ensure the right spacing (Photo 2).

Cut the three parts for the back assembly (Figure A). To create the curved back, drive a pair of finish nails 3-1/2 in. from the edge of a 1x6, and flex a thin piece of wood upward between the nails to create an arc. Mark the arc with a pencil, then cut it out with a jigsaw. Secure the back to the two 1x4 sides to create a U-shape. Use 2-in. bolts (Photo +3) to secure the back assembly to the sides of the stool. (Tip: To install the washer between the back assembly and the stool, tape it over the hole in the side before installing the assembly.) Finally, position the top far back enough--about 1/2 in. from the front of the sides--so the back doesn't hit the front lip as it pivots.

1 MARK THE TWO SIDE PIECES

I Use a tape measure to swing arcs for the edges as shown in Figure A, then mark the holes for the pivot screws and the back dowel stop.

2 ASSEMBLE THE STOOL WITH 2-IN. SCREWS

First screw the back brace to the bottom shelf, then secure this L-shape assembly to the sides. Drill the holes for the pivot screw and the back dowel stop.

3 INSTALL THE BACK

Screw the back to the pivot arms to create a U-shape. Drill the holes in the pivot arms, then secure the back using 2-in. bolts, washers and nuts. Don't permanently fasten the top until you've "test swiveled" the back to make sure you have enough clearance.

WHAT IT TAKES

TIME: 2 hours

COST: $20

SKILL LEVEL: Beginner

TOOLS: Circular saw (or miter saw), drill, router, 1/4-in. round-over bit

MEET THE BUILDER

Spike Carlsenisa Contributing Editor to The Family Handyman magazine and the author of five books including "Ridiculously Simple Furniture Projects" (Linden Publishing).

WHAT IT TAKES

TIME: 3 hours per stool

COST: $20

SKILL LEVEL: Beginner

TOOLS: Jigsaw, drill, router, 1/4-in. round-over bit

Overall dimensions: 16-3/8" W x 15" D x 16" H (in chair mode)

Material List

4' 1x4, 2' 1x6, 1x10, 2" screws, 1/2" dowel, 1/4" x 2" bolts, washers, nuts

By Spike Carlsen

editors@thefamilyhandyman.com
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Title Annotation:jigsaw, worshop and flip-flop step stools
Author:Carlsen, Spike
Publication:The Family Handyman
Article Type:Instructions
Date:Apr 1, 2015
Words:1538
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