I recently bought a telescope (again...after decades without one). I don't think I've ever seen a telescope that didn't have some sort of chair, step stool, or sometimes even a ladder nearby. People always need to get up to look into the ocular or bang on the obervatory dome. Since you can't seem to have a telescope without some kind of thing to stand on and make you taller I decided to build one.

2015-12-03 - How Do I Build Furniture?

If you have all the parts you need, have your own tools, and have half a clue, this project can probably be done in a day. There's no waiting for glue to dry or having to sand for hours like there is for boxes. This project took me longer than a day.

I had one piece of 1x12" oak leftover from other times and that's what got this started. Being a 1x12 it was 11-1/4" wide. That sorta set the upper limit on the size of the stool. I drew up a quick plan, above, and came fairly close to following it. The major departure was that the ends are not cut so they are slanted in 2" like is shown. Leaving the 2" overhang of the top of the stool made me a bit nervous. It would have been 2" along the grain. I was afraid someone would step on the edge and it would snap off. As a result I ended up making the end pieces square/straight up and down. They probably could have been slanted in 1" or so with no problems. Next stool.

See? Straight up and down, instead of more like the letter A. The tops and bottoms of the notches on the sides are cut at about a 10° angle so these ends can be slanted. I had to do that with a saber saw that has a tiny protractor to set the angle of the foot of the saw. All I can say is at least I got them slanted the right direction. Sparing no expense the bottoms of these pieces that will become the feet of the stool are also slanted 10°.

The arches on the bottom are about 5" in diameter. I cut those with the same saber saw. Good thing I like the smell of campfire smoke. Note to self: Use a scroll saw or cut bigger circles.

Always excited to use the router. I needed two groves on the bottom of the top piece for the tops of the end pieces to lock into. The wood is all 3/4" thick, but the end pieces hit the top at that 10° angle, so the grooves needed to be a bit wider. I just winged it. I cut the groove wider and wider until it was just right and/or too big.

Once everything was cut and grooved I was able to see what it was all going to look like.

Not terrible. I left the two side pieces plenty long...on purpose. I know me, and I didn't want to have to buy anymore wood.

2015-12-12 - Let's Finish This

I procrastinated for as long as possible. I wasn't sure how I was going to keep the project together while I tried to get everything in the right place so I could start figuring out where to drill holes and put screws.

The first thing to do was add some 'accents' to make it look interesting, instead of it looking like an expensive upside-down milk crate.

I marked out the circles in the side pieces, and the rectangle in the top, drilled some starter holes and fired up the scroll saw. It just took minutes to cut them all out.

Once the cutting was done I pulled out the router and rounded all of the exposed edges off with a 1/8" rounding bit. A 1/4" rounding bit might have looked a little better...maybe even a 3/8" bit for that completely round effect. I'll try something different next time. That router is slightly too much fun.

It turns out that the cutting job on the slanted tops and bottoms of the side support slots (to the left and right of the circle in the end piece) was so bad that when everything was assembled it all just sort of wedged itself stable. On the bright side that's good to know.

While keeping everything aligned I got one screw in at each corner, then two screws to hold the top on. After that I drilled the pilot holes and counter sunk the tops of them for all other 12 screws. I put in all of the other screws, spiffied up the holes for the original screws, and then put them back in. Once everything looked good I removed each side support, applied a little glue, and drove all of the screws home. Repeated that for the second side, and the top. Voila!

Some time next week I'll take the hand sander to it and polish it up a bit. It will be spending its time out in the dirt with people standing on it. I'm not going to worry a whole lot about the finish. I may add some non-skid applique things, like go in a bathtub, to the top. I left the side supports about 3/8" longer on each end than they needed to be. It was a fashion choice. They were originally going to be cut off flush with the end pieces, then I thought I'd leave them longer than the ends, but cut off straight up and down. In the end I decided on the 'parallel to the ends, but a little longer than they needed to be'-look.

I've never been real good at 'cabinetry level' woodworking, and this project further proved it. A dado blade for a table saw would have been a big help here. I stood on it and didn't break a leg (mine, not the stool's) or anything. It ended up being a pretty sturdy little stool!