Stepping up


Is the saucepan out of reach? Has the flour has been put back on the top shelf? Was that wedding present given to you by a visiting relative put above the kitchen units, out of sight? You could run out to the shed to grab a paint-spattered ladder but more times than not, you’ll probably pull over a kitchen chair and balance precariously on it while ruining the fabric or leather upholstery.

A little step stool would be a much more practical solution – I’ll show you how to make one that will store easily, always be to hand and will become one of the most versatile pieces of furniture around the house. Using basic tools and skills, an indispensable household aid will be crafted and you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.

photo-3The step stool is made from MDF (medium density fibreboard) with some red deal (solid timber) pieces used as strengthening ribs. MDF is a manufactured board that is made from compressed saw dust. It is a very versatile material that takes a finish well as it has no defects such as knots and readily takes a moulding on its edge. It comes in a range of different thicknesses from 3mm to 38mm. For our project we will use 18mm MDF. Below is our cutting list to get us started.

Red Deal/Ribs350mm44mm30mm4
Measure twice, cut once
The sides are marked out using the measurements in this plan (measurements in mm):
Feel free to alter the dimensions or change the design to suit your requirements.

This project is symmetrical so the sides and the steps are identical. This can be useful as both boards can be cut, sanded and drilled together to save time and also ensure that both pieces will line up exactly. If you choose this method, the best way to temporarily stick the two boards together would be using double sided sticky tape. It’s strong enough to hold the pieces together yet easy to detach when you’re finished. Alternatively, you could also mark and process each piece individually. Just make sure your markings are accurate.

photo-6photo-7When the markings are complete on the sides, it is now time to cut them to shape. Like most things in life, there are several ways to do this. The method I used was with a jig-saw. A hole is first drilled in the corners to allow the blade to fit into and the cut is made from there.

For those who don’t own a jigsaw, the sides can be just as easily cut out using a standard handsaw and a coping saw (see Tools). When the sides are cut, planed and sanded smooth, the next step is to fit the strengthening ribs to both sides.

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Ciaran Hegarty

About Ciaran Hegarty

Ciaran is a woodwork and construction studies teacher in Moyle Park College, Clondalkin, Dublin. He qualified from the University of Limerick in 2005 with an Honours Degree in Materials and Construction with Concurrent teacher education. He resides in Leixlip, Co Kildare, email

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