Oliver’s step stool

Build this simple project with your little one



Photo by Christopher Campbell

When Oliver, my two-and-a-half-year-old son, needed help to reach the sink and toilet, I decided to make this handy stool. I kept the design as simple as possible so that he could help out with most of the work. The project is easy enough to complete in an hour or so–just long enough to keep Oliver’s interest.

The stool is built from reclaimed antique pine–the primary wood used in our workshop–however, since it’s planed to 3/4″-thick, you can easily substitute off-the-shelf lumber.



Start by laying out all the pieces on the lumber. To include Oliver in the work, I chose to use hand tools for all of the cutting operations, but you could use power tools if you're building this on your own.

Cut the top and sides to width first; then cut them to length. Use a handsaw to make all the straight cuts. Then clamp the workpieces in a vise to hold them steady while cutting.

Taper the legs of the stool to provide extra stability: lay out the shape of the legs first, then make the straight cuts using a handsaw. To make the semi-circle cutouts on the legs, use a compass to mark the 4"-dia. opening; then cut out using a coping saw. Cut the centre brace to size now. Sand all the pieces and smooth any sharp edges.


Assemble the stool using screws. Drill pilot holes to prevent the wood from splitting. Draw layout lines to indicate the position of the centre brace where it meets each leg. Attach the legs to the centre brace first. Hold the centre brace in a vise, end-up, and position the leg onto its end. Drill two pilot holes and drive the screws home to secure the leg. Flip this assembly over and attach the other leg using the same method.

To complete construction, attach the top to the legs and centre brace assembly. Centre the top, drill pilot holes and install the four screws. Before applying finish, sand off any pencil lines you drew on workpieces for fitting purposes.

Oliver and I finished his stool with a wash of boiled linseed oil cut with pure turpentine. This brought out the beautiful colour of the antique pine.

After drying for a day or two, apply several coats of tung oil. (Polymerized tung oil is a good choice for this stool since it needs to endure multiple washings). The end result is a deep and glowing finish.

Tools & Materials

Part Material Size (T x W x L*) Qty.

Top pine 3/4" x 8" x 14" 1
Legs pine 3/4" x 6 1/4" x 9" 2
Centre brace pine 3/4" x 3" x 11 1/2 " 1
Screws pine #8 1 1/4" long 8

* Length indicates grain direction

Recommended Tools


Oliver’s step stool

Illustration by Len Churchill

1 comment

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Capn Mark

Mar. 3, 2014

10:22 pm

Thank you for posting this design. I just made one for my 2yr son... nice & simple.

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