Walnut Step Stool: Part IV


 walnut step stool

The step stool is nearly complete, all I need to do is machine the African Blackwood 1/2 inch and 3/8 inch square plugs, cut and install the plugs, do a little final sanding and it will be ready to apply the finish.

making a step stool

The African Blackwood plugs are done and look good. I sanded the entire stool with 320 grit and 400 grit sandpaper. The step stool is now complete except for the finish!

step stool finishing supplies

In the above picture you will see the finishing supplies I need for applying the Danish Oil. Before applying the Danish Oil I used the tack cloth to remove any and all dust on the stool from sanding. I don’t want any dust mixed with the oil. Once the dust was removed I put on the disposable gloves and used a clean cotton cloth to apply the oil.

unique step stool
On my initial application of Danish Oil I applied a liberal amount to the entire stool, the surface was very wet. I started with the bottom of the stool and worked my way to the sides and top. You can see that using the Danish Oil makes the walnut grain and character pop with color!

homemade step stool

These next couple of pictures give you a better idea of the walnut color after applying the Danish Oil. The walnut is really beautiful, lots of color and character.

step stool

Once the first cost was completed, I waited 30 minutes, then wiped off any access Danish Oil. I let it dry completely between coats, about 12 hours. Before reapplying the next coat I sanded with 400 grit sandpaper and then removed all dust using a tack cloth. I continued this process every 12 hours until I had applied four coats.

walnut step stool

Here are a few pictures after four coats of Danish Oil. At this point I have decided to apply a wipe on poly (polyurethane) to protect the surface. Before applying the poly I like to wait 48 to 72 hours, this will insure the Danish Oil has dried completely.


making a step stool

Sometimes I like to just use the Danish Oil and nothing else but the Danish Oil is not a hard finish. It will scratch and mark really easy. So, since this stool will get a lot of use I decided to also apply a couple coats of Wipe on Poly.


Before applying the first cost I sanded with 400 grit sandpaper, then removed the dust using the tack cloth.

stool-sanded-with- 400-grit

The white is the dust from sanding.


I have had good results in the past using the Minwax Wipe On Poly so that is what I am going to use. The step stool is ready for the first coat. Wearing gloves, I use a clean cotton cloth to apply the poly.

After applying each coat I will have to wait 4 hours before I can apply another coat. I plan to apply three coats and will sanded between each coat using a 1000 grit sanding pad. Again removing the dust using a tack cloth between each sanding.


Above, the first picture of the step stool completed after applying three coats of the Minwax Wipe On Poly.



Can you see the reflection of the chest on the finish of the stool?!

beautiful-walnut-step-stool unique-step-stool




I am pleased with the results, my wife loves it and that’s what counts! Making this walnut step stool for my wife has been a lot of fun! What do you think, do you like my step stool?

Time spent on Part IV: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Total Time spent making stool from start to finish: 6 hours, 45 minutes

Making a step stool:
Walnut Step Stool: Part I
Walnut Step Stool: Part II
Walnut Step Stool: Park III

Previous Post:
Walnut Slabs
Walnut Wood Gloat

My Work

Click image to view more information on my cutting boards.

walnut double handle cutting board



Walnut Step Stool: Part III


stool pieces before sanding

After talking to my wife, we decided to change the legs and add a slight curve similar to the curve on top of the stool. I measured and marked for making the curve, then using my adjustable French curve I marked for my cuts.

walnut step stool

Using double sided tape I placed both legs on top of each other, the double sided tape secures the two pieces together allowing me to make two cuts instead of four and both cuts are matching cuts. I used the band saw to make these cuts, cutting shy of the line and then I will sand up to the line.

With both legs still together with the double sided tape, I sanded the cuts along the legs starting with 120 grits up to 320 grit. I then removed the two pieces from each other and the double sided tape. Incase the tape left any residue I sanded that area with 320 grit. After sanding the legs, all pieces are now ready to run thru the router for machining the edges.

router set-up

The above picture is the top of my router table which includes my homemade guard that ties directly into my dust collection system. The guard provides protection from the cutter and the dust collection keeps the area free of dust.

I want each piece to have a 1/8 inch round over except the top, so I need to set-up the router to handle these cuts.

making a walnut step stool

I unplugged the router, installed the 1/8 inch round over bit then adjusted the height of the cut. I then ran a couple of scrap pieces of wood thru the router to test the height. Once the height was correct, I proceeded to run all of the boards that need the 1/8 inch round thru the router.

Next I unplugged the router again to set-up the 1/4 inch round over bit for cutting the two long sides of the step stool top. Same process as before, after testing the height using scrap wood, I ran the long sides of the top thru the router. In the picture below you can see the long side now has a 1/4 inch round over.

working with walnut

In order to make a bead along the short ends of the top, I needed to raise the router bit and go thru the set-up and testing on a piece of scrap wood. In the picture above and below you can see the round over with a slight bead, I think it will add character to the top of the stool.

making a walnut step stool

The areas that were routed now need to be sanded. Once the sanding is completed I am ready to double check each piece and start assembling the step stool.

First thing is to assemble the legs and stretcher, after making several measurements I started the assembly of the legs and stretcher. Drilled 1/4 inch holes that will receive the 1/4 inch dowels in both the legs and stretcher. I will apply Titebond III wood glue to each dowel before inserting into the hole as I assemble the stool.

making a step stool

The stretcher adds strength and support.

building a walnut step stool

If you look at the pictures of the top after routing you will notice I still need to cut four square holes for securing the top to the legs. After measuring the location for each hole, I then cut the four 3/8 inch square holes, this is very tedious and takes time.

making a step stool

The four holes cut along each end are 3/8 inch square that will be used to secure the top to the legs. The three holes in the center are 1/2 inch square that will be used to secure the top to the stretcher. I made two different size holes to add contrast, these holes will be plugged using African Blackwood.

walnut step stool

I then assembled the top of the stool to the legs and stretcher. Same process as before, drilling 1/4 inch holes for the dowels, adding glue to the dowels before inserting into the holes.

walnut step stool

The step stool is looking good! My next steps will include machining the African Blackwood that I will use to plug the holes.

I also need to decide on the final finish, there are lots of choices. I am leaning toward starting with Zinsser SealCoat, then an oil based gel and finish up with lacquer or polyurethane. The other supplies I will need for applying the finish are rags, foam brushes, gloves, 400 to 1000 grit sanding pads, time and patience’s.

Making this walnut step stool has been a lot of fun!

Next post: Machining and installing square plugs, final sanding prep and applying the final finish.

Time spent on Part III: 1 hour 45 minutes

Making a step stool:
Walnut Step Stool: Part I
Walnut Step Stool: Part II
Making a Walnut Step Stool: Part III
Walnut Step Stool: Part IV

Previous Post:
Walnut Slabs
Walnut Wood Gloat

Walnut Step Stool: Part II

My Work

top of stool

Using my rule and a red pencil I made my measurements on the top of the stool. The red pencil makes it easier to see on the walnut, I have a white pencil but could not located it. My measurements included handles on each end and then a slight curve on each side. The adjustable French curve makes it easy to layout the curves for each cut. You can see the adjustable French curve to the left in the picture below.

layout cuts for top of stool

I then used the band saw with a fine tooth blade and carefully made all of the cuts. Each cut on the band saw was made just outside the line, when I sand all the pieces I will then sand to the line.

using adjustable french curve to layout stretcher

Next I made my measurements for the stretcher and using the adjustable French curved marked the layout of each cut for the stretcher.

layout stretcher with French curve

The stretcher will provide support under the stool and between each leg.

stool pieces before sanding

All the pieces are cut but I am considering adding a design on the legs instead of leaving them square. My wife originally asked for square legs so I plan to show her on paper my idea to see if she likes it or not. Stay tuned!

sandpaper and dewalt planer 2 hp model DW735

I sanded all the pieces starting at 120 grit, slowly working my way up to 180, 220 the 320 grit. Final sanding will be at 400 grit just before finishing but it will also depend on the final finish my wife chooses, I may need to sand up to 1000 grit.

stool legs cut square holes

Legs with 3/8 inch square holes

Next I took my time to measure and layout placement of the square holes for the legs and top. The legs will have 3/8 inch square holes and the top will have 1/2 inch square holes. I drilled in the center of each area where the square holes will be to remove some of the material and finished up using my hand chisels.

top of stool with cut square holes and african blackwood

Top with 1/2 inch square holes with African Blackwood.

The above pictures shows the top of the step stool after I cut the 1/2 inch square holes along with a piece of African Blackwood. Once the stool has been assembled, the African Blackwood will be used to plug the holes. I selected the African Blackwood to provide a contrasting color and character.

step stool top before assembly

I will plane down the African Blackwood to 1/2 inch square for the top and 3/8 inch square for the legs.

dowels for step stool assembly

The step stool will be assembled using 1/4 inch by 1-1/2 inch expandable dowels. The dowels will add strength to the assembled stool.

Next post: Make decision on the stool leg design and assembly.

Time spent on Part II: 1 hour 25 minutes

Previous Post:
Making a Walnut Step Stool: Part I
Walnut Step Stool: Part III
Making a Walnut Step Stool: Part IV

Walnut Slabs
Walnut Wood Gloat

Walnut Step Stool: Part I

My Work

This is my first post on making a walnut step stool for my wife. If you read my recent post, Walnut Slabs, you know that my wife asked me to make her a new step stool as soon as she saw the beautiful walnut slabs. I had made my wife a step stool many years ago using red oak which she uses everyday in the kitchen but she wants to move that step stool into her walk in closet. I sketched out three different designs and shared them with her. Below is the design that she chose.

making a step stool

Ok, I am not an artist but wait until to you see the finished stool, it will be beautiful! This is not a difficult project, but this design has a good many steps, no pun intended!! 🙂

As I continue this project, I plan to keep track of my time in order to know exactly how long it takes me to make one step stool. It will take me a bit longer since this is the first time I have made this design plus the extra work to mill the rough sawn walnut.

I started by picking a few walnut slabs that matched the width and length that I needed for the step stool. After measuring the boards, I decided to use the two boards on the right in the picture below.

live edge walnut slabs

Rough sawn walnut found last week, see recent post Wood Gloat

Each board is rough sawn, so after checking for nails I will need to dress each board. Dressing rough sawn lumber is the milling of the boards, getting each board flat, straight and square. All boards need to be ran thru the milling process before cutting the first piece for the stool. For the milling process I will be using my Dewalt 13 inch 2 speed planer and my jointer. The planer will be used to mill the surfaces and the jointer will mill the edge.

To start, I set-up my Dewalt 13 inch 2 speed planer, turn on the dust collection and planed each board. It took multiple passes on each side to plane the boards. Each board was a different thickness but all were slightly less than 5/4 inch, so I was able to plane each board to 4/4 inch thick.

walnut live edge

Boards after going thru the planer.

All boards are planed but still have the live edge. Each has beautiful character and great color, the center of the boards are the traditional walnut color, toward the live edge is the sap wood which is cream in color.

I set-up my table saw jig to cut the boards to the maximum width minimizing waste but removing the live edge. I will try to save as much of the sap wood are possible as I think it will add character to the step stool.

walnut step stool plan

Once I had all four sides of all the boards milled, I measured, marked out a rough draft layout for each cut based on my design. Set-up the table saw and I made rough oversized cuts for each piece see picture above, final cuts will me made as I progress. Then each piece was ran thru the jointer to true the edges.

The boards will need to acclimate over night. Before continuing tomorrow I will check each piece for cupping.

Next post: layout the top step and the stretcher using my adjustable French curve and cutting both to final size.

Time spent today on Part I: 1 hour and 35 minutes.

Next Post:
Walnut Step Stool: Part II
Walnut Step Stool: Park III
Walnut Step Stool: Part IV

Previous Post:
Walnut Slabs
Walnut Wood Gloat