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A Batch of Stools

Every toddler needs one of these!

Recently we had a couple of warm, sunny days, and I took advantage of them by doing some work in the shop!

When my oldest was barely 2 years old, I decided that one of the first things she needed to learn was good dental hygiene. I guess my working in a dental lab gave me extra motivation to instill that discipline in my children. Anyway, for her to reach the bathroom sink, I had to make a little stool. She still has it thirty-some years later, and still uses it, although now as a foot-stool.

For the past twenty years we’ve been working with young students, and because we live in a small community, we keep in touch with many of them, even after they’re done with school. We’ve attended some of their weddings and have made it a tradition, on the birth of a baby, to give them a small stool as a gift. Recently, several of our former students had babies and I decided to make a batch of stools. Thankfully, the past few sunny days were perfect for that.

Making a stool is a simple, straightforward procedure, but it does require much handy-work, something I don’t particularly relish, but I adopted the Nike attitude and told myself, “Voicu, just do it!”

All the parts that make up the stool.

Making these stools in batches of 8-10 pieces at a time helps, as there is a flow and the production-style approach saves the fumbling I’d be doing if I were making them one at a time. I made Masonite patterns for all the various parts and that too, helps with productivity. I use mostly pine because it’s readily available with several sawmills in the village that cut nothing else. Poplar, basswood or cedar would work as well. I sometimes incorporate a bit of walnut or cherry into the seat which will be finished with a clear coat of varnish, polyurethane or shellac, whatever I have on hand.

The seats with the first coat of finish (clear acrylic).

I paint the bases of the stools with latex enamel, white for the girls, blue for the boys, and I personalize each with the baby’s name. After dimensioning the parts on the table saw, I do the rest of the cutting on the scroll saw and I do most of the sanding prior to assembly. Using a ¼ inch round-over bit in my trim router, I treat the edges of the seat, top and bottom.

I assemble the base by attaching the stretchers with glue and 18 gage finishing brads and pull everything tight with a couple of clamps. After the glue dries, I add a 1 5/8 inch screw after I drilled a pilot hole with 3/32 inch bit and counterbore with 3/8 inch. This allows me to cover the screw heads with a 3/8 inch glued-in plug. On the inside of each stretcher, I glue a ¾ inch cleat that will serve for attaching the seat with 4 screws.

The bases ready for paint

A while back, one of our former students had triplets! Now they're toddlers and have just started walking, so I thought, "Voicu, you'd better get in gear and make their stools before they leave for college." (Yeah, I talk to myself from time to time, but it helps me stay out of trouble). I've received pictures from several parents showing their toddlers using the stools, not just for reaching the sink while brushing their teeth, but sometimes for reaching up to kitchen counters and other places they shouldn’t be. Maybe I should start including a disclaimer when I deliver them!

Three stools ready to go

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1 comentário

Cathy Jones Vinson
Cathy Jones Vinson
28 de fev. de 2022

Voicu, you are so industrious, and it is inspiring. I am so glad to get these. I do think each home has multiple uses, and yours are so excellent. Such a treasured and useful gift. I have thought of how useful stools are as we picked up the simplest one at a garage sale years ago and wished there were more like it. Even as I just read this I was sitting on this simple stool which Ed has now retrieved for back support as he boosts himself back on his chair. Thanks for sharing !

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