How to Build a Step Stool

Updated: Jul. 11, 2023

This Shaker-style stool project is an easy way to reach great heights.

Next Project

A day




$30 to $75


Follow these plans to build a simple, sturdy step stool.

Tools Required

  • 2” Brad nails
  • Clamps
  • Dowel centers (optional)
  • Doweling jig (optional)
  • Sandpaper
  • Stain / finish
  • Table saw or Circular saw
  • Wood glue

Materials Required

  • 1 – 1x3 x 8’ Hardwood
  • 1 – 1x8 x 8’ Hardwood
  • 1/4” dowels

It doesn’t matter how tall you are, there’s always something you need on the top shelf of a kitchen cabinet just a little out of reach. Rather than keeping a stepladder in the house, you can build this handsome Shaker-style step stool in a day.

Cutting List

A 2 Tall side 3/4″ x 7-1/4″ x 22″
B 2 Short side 3/4″ x 7-1/4″ x 11″
C 5 Stretcher 3/4″ x 2-1/2″ x 12-1/2″
D 2 Tread 3/4″ x 7-1/4″ x 14″

Project step-by-step (6)

Step 1

Make the sides

Cut the tall and short side pieces (A & B) to length. Drill 1/4-inch diameter dowel holes in one edge of each short side using a doweling jig.

Locate the dowel holes in the tall sides using dowel centers, then drill the holes in the tall sides. Add glue to the edge of the short side and in the dowel holes. Press the dowels into their holes and clamp the parts together. Clean off any excess glue with a damp rag.

When the glue is dry, sand the assembled sides up to 150-grit. If you don’t have a doweling jig, simply edge-glue the parts together.

Step Stool Step 1Family Handyman

Step 2

Cut the arcs

Draw a 4-1/2-in.-dia. arc, centered on the bottom edges of the side assemblies using a compass. Cut out the arcs with a jigsaw, then sand the arcs smooth.

Step Stool Step 2Family Handyman

Step 3

Make the stretchers

Cut the stretchers (C) to length. Drill two 1/4-in.-dia. dowel holes in each end of all the stretchers.

Step Stool Step 3Family Handyman

Step 4

Drill the sides

Using dowel centers, mark the dowel holes in each side assembly at the locations shown. Drill the dowel holes 1/2-in. deep.

Step Stool Step 4Family Handyman

Step 5

Assemble the frame

Glue up one end of each stretcher. Add the dowels, then press each stretcher into place. Glue the other end of all the stretchers, add the dowels, then the other side assembly onto the dowels. Clamp the frame assembly together and wipe off any excess wood glue. Allow the glue to dry.

Step Stool Step 5Family Handyman

Step 6

Attach the treads

Cut the treads (B) to length. Add glue to the assembled frame on the parts supporting the stretchers. Secure the stretchers in place with woodworking clamps. wipe off any excess glue, then let the glue dry. Sand the whole stool up to 150-grit, then apply a finish of your choice.

Step Stool Step 6Family Handyman