Today I wanted to take a break from larger projects and make a “quick small project” so I built a stepstool. It was a good lesson in how a “small project” isn’t necessarily a small undertaking, especially when you factor in using new skills or tools. To make my little stepstool I ended up hauling out my miter saw, circular saw, drill and power sander, on top of giving both my jigsaw and Kreg Jig a first whirl. It took all day and made a huge mess. Still, it’s a cute stool, and making it only cost me a buck or so for screws and sandpaper.
This is a slightly tweaked version of Ana White’s Vintage Stepstool plan. I used only scraps and offcuts from other projects. The yellow bits are old painted shelves that I ripped to width. They spent a winter in the garage and I liked how they were scratched and chipped, so I went with “banged up and old” as a general theme. I colored the rest of the stool gray with a solution of steel in vinegar. I can’t say how much I love this gray finish. It raised the grain, so I very lightly sanded with 220 grit, and the result is suedelike and more subtle than I was able to capture in my photos. I’m not usually into too-cutesy distressed furniture, but I think it turned out pleasingly oddball.
So, I broke in my Kreg Jig on this project, and although it was counterintuitive (why would I “start drilling” a hole so far awayyyyyyy from the wood I’m trying to fasten to?) it does create amazingly strong fast joints. It was difficult to use on some parts of this project because the long screwdriver bit didn’t have room inside the stepstool frame; fortunately I have a screwdriver bit matching Kreg’s square driver, and driving the screws by hand worked okay. Using regular screws instead of Kreg’s screws (I ran out) worked okay in some spots, created small splits in other spots.
I think I still need to finish it with something a little protective, but shellac is out because I don’t want shiny and I think the only poly I have on hand is satin, possibly still too shiny. Paste wax is a no-go, a slick stepstool is about the last thing I want. I may end up splashing out a little money on this thing after all, for a matt clearcoat.