wj140 hoosier step stool
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Step by Step constructioninstruction.
A complete bill of materials.
Exploded view and elevationdrawings.
How-to photos with instructivecaptions.
Tips to help you complete theproject and become a betterwoodworker.
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WJ140Published in Woodworkers Journal Today's Woodworker:Projects, Tips and Techniques for the Home Shop
Americas leading woodworking authority
Hoosier Step Stool
WOODWORKER'S JOURNAL 2007 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
144 HOME PROJECTS
Evoking the thrifty Midwestern economy of effort, the Hoosier Step Saver did dual duty in 1920s kitchens across the country.
Many of us are familiar withHoosier-style baking cabinets, but onlya few know that the manufacturers ofthese cabinets also made a wide rangeof accessories to outfit the modernkitchen of 1920. A few months ago,Ralphs wife came across one suchaccessory listed on eBay. It was a dual-purpose piece of kitchen furnitureaclassic stool design that Bobby Knightwould never have dreamt of tossingacross a basketball court floor. ThisHoosier Step Saver was a nice-enoughlooking seat, but it turned out that thestool concept was only half the story:flip the piece over and the three goodsized stretchers became rubber-cov-ered steps to help the vertically chal-lenged reach that elusive pan on thetop cabinet shelf.
With a few calls, Ralph was able to get all the details on the dimensionsand construction of this stool.
Getting StartedAlthough the original stool was
made from oak, Ralph used ash for thisreproduction. Modern red oak tends tobe a bit porous, and ash can easily befinished to closely resemble antiqueoak. All the parts are 3/4" thick, sothere is no problem if you need to pur-
HOOSIER STEP STOOL 145
Hoosier Step StoolWith strong and sturdy joinery, ash lumber and a nod to the past, Ralph Bagnall,one of our regular contributors, builds a kitchen classic poised for a good olddown-home revival. Everyone can use a bit of a step up in the kitchen from time to time.
When you arent using this project as astep stool, its second purpose puts kidscloser to the action in the kitchenorparks them safely away from it.
chase stock from your local home cen-ter. At a grand total of seven board feetto complete the project, it wont breakthe bank.
Begin by ripping the stock for thelegs and stretchers (pieces 1 and 2).See the Material List on page 147 forthe complete bill of materials. The legsand stretchers are all cut from 3/4" x112" stock. See the Cutting Diagramon page 146. The steps and top(pieces 3 and 4) are made up of 5"-wide stock, so take a few min-utes and rip the bulk of the stoolsparts to their proper width. With thattask done, crosscut all the main partsto their final dimension. The onlyexception Ralph made was to cutthe parts for the top to 1412"long (just a little oversized) to make the glue-up aneasier task. To keepthe process movingsmoothly, glue thethree seat parts togetherto make the seat blank and set it aside for now.
Step Stool Exploded View
Cutting Diagrams 3/4" x 4" stock
3/4" x 6" stock
3/8" x 3/4" mortise typ..250
Hoosier Step Saver Reproduction Copyright 2001 Ralph Bagnall
Legs (A)4 needed
Steps (C)3 needed
Stretchers (B)8 needed Brackets (E)4 Needed
Seat (D)3 pcs glued up1 needed
Legs(Inside and Side View)
146 HOME PROJECTS
Stretcher (Top View)
Step (Front View)
Brace (Front View)
Pare the walls of the mortisesmooth and flatwith a couple ofsharp chisels.Its best tomake the mortises firstand then formtenons to fit theopenings.
Begin makingthe mortises byboring out thewaste using a sharp Forstnerbit. All you needto locate themortise is acenter line andtwo crossmarks indicatingthe ends of themortise.
HOOSIER STEP STOOL 147
MATERIAL LIST Step Stool
T x W x L
1 Legs (4) 3/4" x 112" x 2378"
2 Stretchers (8) 3/4" x 112" x 10"
3 Steps (3) 3/4" x 5" x 1112"
4 Seat (1) 3/4" x 14" x 14"
5 Braces (4) 3/4" x 4" x 4"
6 L-Brackets (4) Steel
Ash lumber is easier topare than oak, and it ismore than sufficientlystrong for this step stoolsrigorous daily tasks.
Machining DetailsWell follow the usual convention of making mortises first
and then tenons to fit them. Use a 3/8" Forstner bit chuckedin your drill press to remove the bulk of the waste. Lay out allthe mortises with a simple center line and cross marks toindicate their ends. Then hog out the waste, spacing theholes a bits width apart. Once youve reached the other endof each mortise, drill away the remaining waste. This stagger-ing procedure will help prevent the drill bit from bending.
The next step is to square up the mortises with a chisel.This is another place where the choice of ash over oak is abenefit. If your chisel is sharp, it will cut through ash like a hotknife through butter.
148 HOME PROJECTS
The original Hoosier step stool wasamong the products produced by theHoosier ManufacturingCompany of New Castle,Indiana. Hoosier was theleader among more than40 companiesalmostall of them based inIndianathat made kitchenfurniture in the early 20th century.
The tenons are easy to form sincethey can all be cut from a single setupon the table saw. The shoulders andcheeks are all 3/8" wide. Set up astacked dado blade with a sacrificialboard fastened tight to the rip fence. Use some scrap wood (cut to the samedimension as your project stock) to fine-tune your setup until the tenons fitsnugbut not overly tightthen cuttenons on all the stretchers and steps.
You will need to drill pilot holes inthe top stretcher to mount the seat.
Refer to the drawings on the precedingpages. After assembly, a conventionaldrill will not fit between the stretchers,so use your drill press now to bore a3/16" through hole in the exact centerof the 3/4" face. Finish up these holeswith an appropriate countersink.
Beginning AssemblyAssembling the stool is pretty
much woodworking by the numbers,but you dont want to get ahead ofyourself. Start by gluing up the two side
assemblies, checking that all the facesare as flush as possible and that thecountersinks in the top stretchers areon the inside of the frame, facing up.Clamp them up, check them for squareand set them aside to allow the glue tofully cure.
While you have a moment, now isa good time to cut the seat to final size,radius the corners to 1" and sand theedge smooth all around. For visualeffect and to make the seat a bit morecomfortable, the top edge is milled witha 1/2" roundover bit and the bottomedge with a 1/4" roundover. All thatremains to do for the seat is a finalsanding and, of course, applying finish.
Once the side assemblies are dry,they each need three mortises cut toaccommodate the steps. You can eithercarefully mark out and hand-cut these,or make up a template as shown in thesidebar on the next page and mill themwith a router. Be sure to flip the tem-plate over when doing the second sideassembly. They must be mirror imagesof each other.
Creating Clever CornersThe original unit had oak corner
braces to help mount the seat. Ralphmade his (piece 5) from the remainderof the 6" board as shown in the CuttingDiagram on page 146. Now round overthe braces, sand them and drill coun-tersunk mounting holes. Because of thehard use this stool will take, add steelcorner braces (pieces 6) to reinforce thejoint. To keep them from showing, thesolution is to undercut or rout out theinside edges of the brackets and screwthem in place over the steel braces. Dothis on your router table as shown inthe photo at right.
With the pieces prepared for finalassembly, its a good idea to pre-finishthe parts. All the corners and possible
Clearing the Air for Safer FinishingIt is absolutely vital to take certain precautions when sprayingfinishes or applying large amounts of contact cement. Use aNIOSH approved Organic Vapor N95 respirator (95% efficient)with replaceable charcoal canisters. Standard particulate dustmasks (the usual style) offer no protection from airbornechemical fumesyou need the maximum possible filtrationhere. Work in a properly ventilated area, as higher concentra-tions of many chemicals have been linked to cancer, nervedamage and respiratory diseases. Wear eye protection, andalways know where your co-workers are: even HVLP-drivenlow pressure sprays can penetrate skin. Als