Stephen's Step Stool: Part IV

With the steps and legs joined I turned my attention to the stretchers.

The legs are glued to the steps.

The stretchers are made from the 1" thick stock I milled for the steps and legs during the milling process. I began by ripping two (2) pieces to about 1¼” width.
Next I took two (2) scrap pieces and cut them to be the exact length between the sides, where the sides meet the steps. I fit these pieces between the legs at the base of the stool in order to hold them parallel (they were angled in, so the legs held the spacers under compression without clamps).

With the legs held parallel by the spacers, I used an adjustable square to mark up from the bottom evenly on both legs. I didn't go for a particular measurement. I aimed for about 1/3 of the way up. The square ensured that the marks on both legs were even with each other. I followed the same process to mark out for the back stretcher, making it about 1½” higher (by eye) than the front stretcher.

The stretcher blanks were laid across the legs, with the bottom edge of the stretchers even with my marks. Then I marked the top of the stretcher on the legs and the inside and outside of the legs on the stretchers. I cut the stretchers to length at the outside edge of the leg marks. Then I used a bevel gauge and laid out a single tail on each end, extending from the inside leg mark to the end of the stretcher. I cut down the side of the tail with my dovetail saw, then I scored the shoulder line with a chisel and cut it with the saw too.

The "pins".

Once the tails were cut, I laid the stretchers back down in place on the legs and marked the pins (it’s really just a single negative tail, but for the sake of clarity, I’ll call it the pins). The sides of the pins were cut with my dovetail saw and I chiseled out down to the base.

Hand cutting dovetails is not an operation I do often, so their fit was gappy. It was nothing a little epoxy wouldn’t fix later.

Not the prettiest, but it'll do.

As I had done with the steps and legs, I took the stretchers to the router table and rounded over the edges that I would not be able to reach once the step stool was assembled. Then I glued in the stretchers with NexaBond. Actually, I installed the front stretcher before I remembered I should have rounded it over. This left me more work to do with the rasp and resulted in the back edge not being as evenly rounded as the others. Be sure to round over your unreachable edges before assembly.

For previous Step Stool posts, click here.

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