This is the 14 Best tips for making a kids step stool, everything do you need to know to make an awesome step stool as a project for kids. Follow these tips, and you will be very happy with your results. Enjoy.
Making a Kids Step Stool
A step stool is a very common woodworking project for kids, and one of the most satisfying to make. The process itself is fairly straightforward, the wood that you use is common, and you can make the entire project in an afternoon.
Not only that, but since this is a utility piece, if you make it well enough you might even end up using it with your children, and then giving it to them to use with their own children. It could end up being a generational project, that is lovingly passed down over the years.
Even the simple step stool has its own challenges though. There are things to look out for, construction methods that are better than others, and things that you just need to know in order to make the best version of the project on the first try.
Thankfully, none of these concepts is very difficult, and I’ll address all of them coming up in the post, so that way you can have a super successful project.
Here is the list:
- Follow a Good Plan
- Watch YouTube Videos
- Read Tutorials and Articles
- Use Well Seasoned Wood
- Overlap Your Joining Methods (Use at least two for strength)
- Think About the Direction of Force (when arranging boards)
- Round All Corners and Edges
- Make the Stool Splinter Free
- Think About Light Weight Construction
- Make the Kids Stool Strong
- Cut or Install Handles for Carrying
- Use a Kid Safe Finish
- Use a Water Resistant Finish
- Match the Color to the Decor
Follow a Good Plan
The first step to making an excellent step stool is to follow a good plan. If you haven’t made too many woodworking projects before, and you have never made a piece of furniture that’s designed to support a persons weight, I really recommend looking at plans.
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Now you don’t necessarily have to buy a plan, or follow one plan completely. The point of looking at plans and following their direction is so that way you can understand the overall scope of the project, as well as how it’s made.
Most kids step stools are fairly straightforward projects, and there’s not much variation. Once you study a few sets of plans, you’ll see the style of construction, the joints that are used, and a lot of other little tips and tricks.
It all starts with the plans though. If you are brand new, I definitely recommend buying and following a plan. If you’ve made a few projects before, then feel free to browse several plans and make your own that perfectly fits your needs.
Watch YouTube Videos
One of the best sources of inspiration and education that you can possibly find for this product is YouTube. Honestly, for just about any project the number one source for videos and education is always going to be YouTube.
Start by looking up videos of people making kids step stores. There’s going to be tons of them, and all you need to do is start watching. Absorb the information, and learn as much as you can from the person presenting the video.
The nice thing about videos that you’ll get to see tools, techniques, and ideas all in action. It’s much different than reading a book or tutorial. It’s a real person, and they are going to talk a lot, which means you will learn quite a bit too.
Spent some time watching videos, and fill in any gaps that you have as far as the tools needed, or missing information. Videos are great for this, so absorb as much as you can before starting the project.
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Read Tutorials and Articles
If you’re not really into videos, tutorials and web articles on making step stools can help you fill in any gaps in academic knowledge that you may have about the project. Even if the project looks super simple, looking at tutorials online will still teach you things.
The problem with knowledge is that you just don’t know what you don’t know. When you look at tutorials and articles, you learn new things, fill in gaps that you didn’t know existed, and come up with better ideas.
Even well seasoned woodworkers can still benefit from this technique. No matter how much you know, you don’t know everything. The more you expose yourself to different people’s versions of projects, the more you will learn and grow.
See Also: Find Inspiration by Following People
Use Well Seasoned Wood
A kid step stool needs to sit on the floor, and it needs to sit there squarely. One of the best things that you can do in order to prevent your nice and level stool from becoming out of level is to use well seasoned wood right from the start.
What is wet, or that is still acclimatizing to the local area will shift and change in size over time. This means your project will also shift and change over time, and that could be a disaster for a small project that needs to hold up a child.
Instead of taking chances on what could possibly happen, just make sure to buy wood that has already acclimated to your area. The easy way to do this is to go into a local lumber store and select pieces that already have a little dust on them.
You can also ask the person running the store, and they will be able to tell you how long a certain stack of wood has been in the building. This will help you gauge whether or not the pieces have settled, and they’re safe to work with.
Another thing that you could do is use plywood, which does not have the same seasoning issue that solid hardwood does. Select a really good quality plywood, because your project needs to last for a long time.
Overlap Your Joining Methods
Just like airplanes and space shuttles, your step stool is going to be holding precious cargo that you want to keep safe. For this reason, it’s good to engineer redundancies into your building method to make your stool extra safe.
For example, when you are joining two pieces together, you can use wood glue and dowels on the joints. On most projects, what do you by itself would be just fine, but doubling up your joining method adds extra protection for the kids.
Another thing that you can do is glue and screw small gussets underneath the joints to act as another layer of safety and strength. These can be simple three-quarter inch square pieces that are a few inches long, and then tacked under the edges where two pieces meet.
Not only will this provide an increase in gluing area to all the pieces together, but it will also help hold the pieces at a 90 degree angle. It’s extra protection between the joints, and if the main joint fails, this one will provide extra protection.
See Also: 7 Easy Woodworking Joints for Beginners
Think About the Direction of Force
When designing your step stool, think about the direction of force that will be applied when the kids step up on it perhaps to reach the bathroom sink. The pieces that they step on are going to be pressed downward, so their orientation makes a difference.
If your side pieces are below the pieces that are stepped upon, the pressure will push directly on them, and that will be the best way to route the force. If the side pieces attach on the ends of the steps, downward pressure may pull them apart.
Also, when kids are standing on top of something, they may not stand directly in the middle all the time. This means you need to create a design where the child can move around on top of the stool, and not cause it to tip.
Direction of force is very important in this example. Consider this in your design, and your stool will be more stable and safe.
Round All Corners and Edges
As you make a project, you’re going to notice that you have sharp edges and pointy corners. Those all need to be addressed before you turn over a project to a child. The last thing you want is for them to become injured using something you made for them.
This is one of the best tips that probably gets overlooked quite a bit as people make things. It’s hard to understand as an adult, but you can’t really trust children to do what you think that people would be reasonably expected to do with a project.
This means you need to spend extra care and time addressing any sharpness on the project, and eliminating it completely. Go over your project, and maybe even just plan to use a router and a round over bit on all of the edges and corners.
This would be a very easy way to address the issue, because you know you would have to route every corner and edge as part of your normal process. Once you’re done, you’ll have a piece that doesn’t have any sharp parts that could hurt a kid.
Make the Stool Splinter Free
Even as an adult, splinters are not fun. As a kid, it could make them scared to go back onto your project ever again. That’s one of the last things you ever want to do, so go over your project in very close detail and look for splinter spots.
These can be in your corners and edges, but they are also sometimes right in the middle of boards. If you find any areas that are loose or chippy, address them by either filling the area, or removing the material and sanding the remainder.
Go over the piece carefully, and even look into areas that are underneath and in hidden spots, because again you have no idea how a kid is going to interact with the project. Better safe than sorry, so take your time and sand it everywhere.
See Also: 17 Important Tips on How to Sand Wood
Think About Light Weight Construction
Most step stools are fairly light, and they’re easy enough even for kids to move around from place to place. In fact, one of the best things you can do is create a movable item that the kid can actually pick up, because they can control their own mobility.
Kids need access to different areas of the house, and once they understand that the stool gives them access, it won’t take them long to put together that they can move it from place to place. Giving them that freedom opens up a lot of opportunities for them.
That being said, don’t make a step stool that weighs million pounds. Use normal size pieces of wood, and don’t double up things that don’t necessarily need it. Pay attention to redundancy, but three layers to stand on is probably too much.
Make the Kids Stool Strong
Strength is important when making a stool, and you should do everything in your power to ensure that your project is strong and stable. Thankfully, a lot of the tips that have already been covered will naturally encourage this process.
Using good wood, and designing redundancy into your joining methods will all help make a strong stool. Also, considering the direction of force will help make a strong project, because you’re designing it with the use in mind.
As you build, think about strength. If you can make a stool that you can stand on yourself, as an adult, you’ll probably be in good shape for any kids that need to stand on it. Think about lateral movement to, and design for strength.
Cut or Install Handles for Carrying
Going along with mobility, you need to make this really easy to move around. One of the easiest ways to do this is to simply cut couple handles on both sides of the step stool, which will make it easy to move around by kids and adults alike.
This is really important especially for designs where the steps don’t overhang the sides. On designs like this, there really is no natural place to grab a stool. Instead, add hand holders which make it easy to pick up and move the stool.
You can make these simply by cutting oval shape holes into the sides, or you could even buy a set of hardware handles from home improvement store. An easier way is just to install a couple of handles, but it may not match your look.
Take the option that keeps your stool looking nice, and you will be happy either way you go because you’re stool will be easier to move around.
Use a Kid Safe Finish
Not knowing how children will interact with your project, make sure to think about the safety of the finishing products that you use. Hopefully nobody that’s old enough to use a step stool is also chewing on that same step stool, but that child might have a younger sibling.
When you make things for kids, the number one consideration always has to be safety. It literally can make a difference between a very successful project and a tragedy. That being said, select a finish that’s not toxic.
There are a number of finishes that are pretty safe when dry. Select one of these finishes, and apply it to your project. You may even want to find a finish that’s completely safe, and those are available as well.
Use a Water Resistant Finish
Another thing to think of when applying your finish is the way that the step stool is going to be used. A lot of stools are used in the bathroom to help kids gain access to the sink for washing their hands and brushing her teeth.
A step stool like this is going to get wet. There’s pretty much no way around it. Make sure that you finish you choose is resistant to water, and doesn’t create any problems with bubbling or peeling underneath tiny feet.
It’s important that you’re still have some durability and situation like this, otherwise it might start to fall apart prematurely. If this happens, the odds of it becoming a treasured family heirloom go right down the toilet.
See Also: 10 Step Guide to Wood Finishing
Match the Color to the Decor
Finally, when you finish your stool make sure that it matches the decor of the area that is going to live in. Another thing is you can do if you can’t make a match is to select a timeless color and design that’s very traditional.
Earth tones have always worked out in the past, and will most likely always work out in the future as far as design goes. If you can’t make your piece match the home, and you don’t necessarily know where it’s going to go, then go with earth tones.
Stains work really well with top coats, match the stain to the area and both you and your customers will be very happy with the results. They will also keep it a lot longer to.
Your Action Assignment
Now that you know a lot of great tips on how to make a kid step stool, it’s time to get out of the shop and make one. It’s a really rewarding project, and even if you don’t have any kids yourself you can always give it away to somebody that you know with kids.
Making stuff for kids is awesome. If you ever want to really feel truly appreciated as a woodworker, make something for a kid and watch them light up when you give it to them. It’s an amazing feeling, and it makes you really proud.
If you have any questions about all these tips on how to make a kid steps tool, please post a question and I’ll be glad to answer them. Happy building.
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