Woodworking Projects

Shaker Two-Step Stool

Shaker stool

Date Constructed:

March 2003

Lumber:

Red Oak

Dimensions:

15.5" wide x 14.5" deep x 25" high

Stain:

Minwax Red Oak

Topcoat:

Zar Exterior Satin Polyurethane

What I Learned:

I built this project to learn Through Dovetail joinery, using the Keller Journeyman dovetail jig. Dovetails are my favorite joint for making corners. They're strong, and they look classy because of how the exposed end grain takes stain darker than the side grain.

I used a foam brush to apply the polyurethane on this project. The foam brush does help you apply a thinner coat than with a bristle brush, which helps avoid sags and drips.

What Didn't Work:

Tear-out -  I tended to get some tear-out when cutting the dovetails. This is partly because oak is such a brittle wood, and is prone to tear-out. But this is also due to my technique with the dovetail jig. After building this piece, I did some research and found an article on how to avoid tear-out when cutting dovetails. Read the article.

Cost - I tried to buy cherry lumber for this project at a local specialty lumberyard. Hang onto your wallet! I would have had to pay $85 in lumber to build this stool out of cherry! I ended up buying oak for this project at the local home center, and that still set me back $50. I've made a decision—I'm going to buy a planer and a jointer, and get rough-cut lumber direct from the saw mill for 25% of the price of surfaced lumber. According to my calculations, the first 100 board feet of rough-cut lumber that I surface myself will pay for those tools! Of course, this calculation only works if you consider your time free. Since I'm not trying to profit from woodworking, I can justify the extra time.

Get the Plan:

The plan for this project came from Thomas Moser's excellent book, How to Build Shaker Furniture (Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 1977).