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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Stepping it up

Happy New Year to all, and welcome to a fresh new project here at The Bois Shop. This next project is a departure for me in several different ways.  You see, coming up in February is Tommy MacDonald's Boston Wood Expo, and the creative category this year challenges the builder to come up with a new interpretation of the classic step stool. The only rules are that it's primarily made out of wood, has 2 or 3 steps, and would fit in a 30" cube. So I though this would be a great opportunity to really do something different and unique. This first episode, as usual, concentrates on my design process. This project is simple enough I didn't need to draw up measured plans, but I did spend quite  a bit of design on the key design element - the sides.

I don't expect anyone to follow along this build, but I will say that the only tools required for joinery and finishing are a jig saw, sharp chisels, some good rasps, and a lot of sandpaper. A band saw would also help in the process, but you could easily do without. I'll be very interested to get feedback on the early design, as this definitely took me out of my comfort zone a bit.  Enjoy the build!

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Rob Horton said...

Whimsical. It reminds me of Caspar the Friendly Ghost. Two questions:

- Are the sides going to be vertical or angled in towards the top?
- Are the sides to be solid wood? If it's a single piece (or a panel pretending to be a single piece) then at least one of the points is going to want to snap off. I could see doing this as a board that gets two of the points; but then the third point would have to be another board joined at a right angle.

Lastly, just to make it more whimsical, I'd want to see such curves in three dimensions: Perhaps build it out of 8/4 or even 10/4, and then sculpt a flowing taper. Thick at the bottom, thins as it goes up.

Good luck with the build challenge.

Rob Bois said...

Rob, all good questions. The sides will be parallel, although in retrospect a slight inward angle might have been cool. As for the points, the two bottom ones are the most critical as they are thin. The top point angles up and back, so it does end up following the grain more than competing with it. In episode 2, I'll be showing how I laid out the individual elements of the stack lamination. I do end up using a single 12/4 board for both sides (bookmatched). I do quite a bit of contouring with rasps and shaves to create shadow lines, and give the thick sides an appearance that they aren't so bulky. I don't taper top to bottom, but more middle out.