I Can Do That: Shaker-inspired Step Stool

Inspired by a typical Shaker step stool, this version employs pocket screws to join both the side panels and the supports. To cut down on the number of rip cuts, I used three pieces of 1×6 dimensional lumber to form the side panels (1×6 actually measures 3/4″ x 5-1/2″), so this version also ends up a bit deeper than a traditional Shaker stool – and thus a little sturdier and beefier looking.

First, use your miter saw to cut the 1×6 pieces to length for the side panels. You’ll need two each at 20-1/4″, 13-1/4″ and 6-1/4″.

Now, clamp one of the 20-1/4″ pieces flat to your bench (face side down), and drill holes for two pocket screws along the edge that will meet the middle piece. Place one hole 2″ from the bottom edge, the other at 11″. Repeat with the second 20-1/4″ piece. Now drill each 13-1/4″ piece along the edges that will meet the short pieces. Locate one hole 3″ from the bottom edge, the other at 5-1/4″.

Next, it’s time to glue up the side panels, and this is where the pocket screws come in handy – especially if you’re short on clamps. Run a bead of wood glue along the edge of one of the 6-1/4″ pieces, then line up that piece and a 13-1/4″ piece flush across the bottom, and flat across the panel, then clamp across the two. Drive screws into the pockets to join the two pieces together. Now that the screws are in place, you can unclamp and move on to joining the 20-1/4″ to the 13-1/4″ piece. Do the same with the other side panel.