Vintage Step Stool

Submitted by Ana White on Thu, 02/03/2011 - 19:56
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A vintage look step stool featuring two steps and a decorative footer.

Before Christmas, I drew up this plan and meant to get to it by the Holidays.  But reality happens, and I just don't get as much done as I could hope.  So a printout of this plan got burried on my steel magnet wall for a month or two . . . until yesterday.

I'm working on a photo shoot for Fresh Home magazine (so excited that they have asked me to do another project for their fabulous magazine!  You can go here to get signed up to get your free issue.) and the shot just needed . . . something.  Something a tad vintage, a little not perfect, and a lot useful.

I wanted this stool to look well-used and far from perfect, thus the heavy distressing and uneven jigsaw cuts and exposed screws.  To get this finish, I simply painted one coat of flat honeysuckle pink paint (Premium Paint by Behr in Flat) with a brush and let dry overnight.  This is very important.  If you begin distressing too soon, the paint will come off in gooey chunks, as opposed to a-little-wear-over-alot-of-years looking.  Then just started sanding with a power sander and medium grit sandpaper, concentrating on the areas that would get natural wear.  If you wanted to stain the exposed wood, you would need to apply a clear coat before sanding.  The clear coat protects the non distressed areas from accepting the stain, with the exposed wood area accepting the stain.  You can go the other route - stain before paint, but you would need to add primer because it's difficult to put paint over stain.

Dimensions are shown above. I find this stool perfect to give Grace that extra boost to brush her own teeth, climb up on our Farmhouse Bed, or get in and out of the bath. You will be surprised at just how big this step stool ends up being.


Shopping List

1 – 1×12 @ 32″ (Sides)
1 – 1×2 @ 50″
1 – 1×8 @ 32″ (Treads)
2″ screws or 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws
wood glue, wood filler and finishing supplies

Cut List

2 – 1×12 @ 15 1/2″ (Sides – cut out in step 1)
4 – 1×2 @ 12 1/2″ (Supports)
2 – 1×8 @ 15″ (Treads)

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Power Sander
Drill Bit Set


Step 1


Use the measurements above to cut from the 1x12s sides as shown above. Use a jigsaw. Once you have on side cut out, use it as a pattern for the other side. Take note of which side of the line you should cut on and take your time cutting. Sand edges so the two pieces are the same.

Step 2

Bottom Supports

Attach the bottom supports with screws and glue. I used pocket hole screws, but you can also use 2″ wood screws and a good old countersink bit.

Step 3

Top Supports

Now attach the top supports in the same way as the bottom supports.

Step 4

Step 5

Finishing Instructions
Finish Used
Now for the fun part. I love painting and finishing smaller pieces. I encourage you to try a unlikely finish on your step stool. You can always add another coat of paint! Have a great weekend!



Mon, 08/15/2011 - 20:47

I just bought the wood and started cutting for the foot stool. I only have a circular saw, not a jigsaw. Do you think I should buy a jigsaw - will it make the cuts easier for this? Also, should I buy a cheap one ($30-$50)or is it worth it to invest in a more expensive one ($100 -$150). Any advice would be appreciated!


In reply to by erinbarbour

Ana White

Mon, 08/15/2011 - 20:57

Hi Erin, definitely having a jigsaw is well worth the investment. You'll need it for all sorts of cuts, like finishing circular saw cuts or cutting curves. I'd definitely invest in one. I had an inexpensive one for years and it did just fine.

Another thought - and would love other reader's input here - is using a router or rotozip or dremel for cuts like this. Then you could use the dremel tool to finish edges as well.

Just some thoughts good luck! Just admiring my step stool today, still LOVE it and it's really the jigsaw work and the distressing that makes me love it so much!


Tue, 08/16/2011 - 05:56

There's really no replacement for the jig saw, unless you decide to drop the big bucks on a bow saw or band saw.

Dremel tools are great if you're making models or doing fine detail work, but I hardly every use mine. Routers are better for duplicating an existing curve.

The only other option you might consider is a coping saw. It will take slightly longer, but it's quite inexpensive and perfectly capable of making these cuts.


Tue, 08/16/2011 - 07:55

Thank you so much for the advice. I do have a coping saw, which I was thinking about using for the curves. I think I will invest in a less expensive jigsaw anyway. I'll try to post pictures when I'm done. Thanks again to Anna and Clay.

Sara (not verified)

Thu, 01/05/2012 - 07:11

Shouldn't the length of the side pieces be 16 1/2"? 8 + 7 1/2 + 1= 16 1/2. Right? Or am I missing something, which is ENTIRELY possible. ;)

In reply to by Sara (not verified)


Thu, 01/05/2012 - 07:16

That 1" you're trying to add isn't and additional width. It's the inset from the edge for the back of the top step. It's irrelevant to determining the length of the side piece.

Sara (not verified)

Thu, 01/05/2012 - 07:50

I would agree but the problem comes with looking at the picture. Because the back cut is at an angle, terminating at the full length of the cut board I think it does matter. In the picture, across the top it has 3 measurements which add up to 16 1/2 inches.

In reply to by Sara (not verified)


Thu, 01/05/2012 - 07:56

The 1" measurement is inside of the 7 1/2" measurement. That's common notation in plans.

If you want to make it 16 1/2" long in total that's your choice, but you'll have to adjust other measurements if you do. It's not really a problem, in practice you don't actually fit everything exactly to plan dimensions anyway. In fact unless I'm building machinery I very rarely use a detailed measured plan, but instead measure from the piece to fit my needs.

Sara (not verified)

Thu, 01/05/2012 - 08:24

Ahhh, okay that makes sense. Thank you so much Clay! I'm not a skilled or experienced woodworker by any means so I appreciate the assist!


Thu, 01/05/2012 - 09:58

In the dark ages before there was an Internet, shop class was a mandatory part of the educational curriculum, and drafting was about half of the introductory class. Unfortunately schools are defunding vocational training like shop class and home economics.