As usual, click any photo to bring up a larger version.
My wife and I recently purchased one of those glider/rocker chairs. To go with the rocker, we decided that a footstool was in order. Note that we're not thinking about a tall ottoman, where you rest your feet and calves. No, just a short 5-inch tall foot stool, to get my wife's feet up off the floor.
Coincidentally, I came across what I thought was a appropriate set of plans and instructions on the WWW at the Canadian Workshop (CW) Web site: "Step Right Up: a cherry stool". (They have since changed and updated their web pages, and those project plans are unfortunately no longer available. According to the article index at the new Canadian Home Workshop Magazine web site, it you can find it in the June 1995 issue.)
The CW plan called for a fairly sizable stool: 12" tall, 18" long, and 11" deep. I trimmed this way down to suit our needs: 5" tall, 13" long, and 9" deep. The top overhangs the rest by about 1/2" on all sides.
Last summer at a garage sale I picked up a handful of unfinished oak cabinet doors for about $.50 each (together with some 8' oak 1x2's). They appeared to be 'mistakes', as all of the edges had evidence of being worked with a shaper. The doors were all 1/2-5/8" thick. After cutting the shaped edges off of each of these "scrapped" doors, I was left with about 14x20" of usable oak from each door! Most of this material was used for drawer fronts in my Stereo Stand. One such left-over door front provided just enough material for this foot stool project.
Aside from the oak panel, the only material in the project is some glue and some purpleheart dowels. The dowels were also leftovers from the stereo stand project.
I found this to be a very easy project to cut out. One hour with a tablesaw and hand drill resulted in all the parts cut out. Since I had a glued-up oak panel to start with, I probably had an "unfair" head start. The trickiest part of the cutout was the V-notch in the legs. (See the diagram) I first drilled a 3/4" hole, were I wanted the apex of the notch. Then I cranked up the blade on my tablesaw almost as high as it would go, and then set it at an angle of about 40 degrees. Finally, I stood up the two legs, clamped them together (so they would be cut identical) and pushed them through the tablesaw, cutting first the one side of the notch, and then reversed them and cut the other side of the notch. (I hope that is a reasonably clear explanation.) This method probably would not work on a taller stool, since the size of the notch would exceed the maximum cutting depth of a table saw.
The original plans also featured a carving on the top, which I chose to omit. Instead, when assembling the stool, I decided to use visible dowels in a contrasting wood.
The assemby took four steps. First, I glued and clamped the rails to the legs/ends, checking for square. After that dried, I drilled two 1/4" holes, 1-1/4" deep, through each rail into the leg. 8 dowels in total where then glued and pounded into place. When dry, the excess of each dowel was cut off, then pared flush to the rail with a chisel, and finally sanded smooth. For the third step, I glued and clamped the now-completed base unit to the top. Recall that the top is about 1/2" larger in both directions, which resulted in a 1/4" overhang. This overhang made it a bit challenging to align the unit for clamping, but at the same time it also made the process easier, since any small eror would not be as noticeable as if the top were flush to the sides. The last step in the assembly involved measuring, drilling, and pounding in another set of dowels through the top into the rails and the ends.
Some final sanding, a few coats of Polymerized Tung Oil (from Lee Valley Tools), and then an application of furniture wax put the finishing touch to the stool.
My wife was really pleased with the stool and uses it a lot. I was also pleased with the result, and also with the process: it was a fun and easy project. In fact, about a week later I was looking for something to do and decided to put together the remains of those oak doors and make a second footstool. This used up all the leftover pieces of those oak door panels. I did not end up with an identical stool, as the leftover oak prevented that. Instead this second stool was about: 5" tall, 17" wide and 7-1/2" deep. A bit shorter, and a lot wider. We may keep this second stool, or it may end up as a gift to one of our friends. I haven't decided yet.
Thanks for reading!