Stepping It Up

May 14, 2012   //  Posted in: Bathroom, DIY   //  By: Emily   //  one response

We were really quick to remove the old bathroom vanity and replace with the new IKEA model during our bathroom renovation. The new sink and vanity were pretty much love at first sight, perfect for us and our 5’9″-ish frames, much more comfortable than average height vanities. While it’s been easy livin’ so far for us, one thing became very apparent: tall vanities for adults are yay, and tall for kids are nay. And let’s be real, kids need to be able to wash their hands easily.

The easy solution was to design and build a little step stool, mostly with Pete’s daughter Julia in mind, but really to service any kids that were needing to use a bathroom sink. (FYI, ours shown in the pictures is by IKEA, but there are lots of others to consider, like sinks and vanities by Kohler Bathroom Sinks).  I built it easily in an afternoon and am really thrilled with it as a utilitarian piece, but also love how it turned out as a whole. Best of all? It was f-r-e-e using scrap wood, and extra screws and bolts.

I started with a single piece of leftover 2x10x4′ pine board, from which I planned to make a chunky wooden model that would be small enough to tuck aside in the bathroom, but tall and sturdy enough to do what it was intended to do, hoist kids closer to the faucet. I got to work.

A single scrap piece of 2x10 board is about to become a new stepstool.

Side note: We used this scrap back in the bathroom tiling days as a place to set our mortar bucket and  tools. Consequently, it still had lots of mortar stuck to it, but it all sanded right off.

Picking measurements for this step stool, I went based on what “felt right” for my bathroom. I ended up with a top surface measuring 15″ in length, two legs measuring 6″ in height, and two center support pieces measuring 10″x3″.

Cutting pieces of wood for the step stool out of a single 4' 2x10 board.

Loosely assembled (upside down), this is how it was designed to come together:

Upside down, dry fit step stool just for show.

I even took an extra step to cut a series of 1-3/4″ circles in the top to serve two purposes: 1) they give adults something quick to grab to pick up and move the step stool out of the way and 2) give the kids feet something to grip to, lessening the chance of accidental slips. No, the holes aren’t big enough for a kid’s foot to accidentally fall through.

Planning for circles to be cut into the top of the step stool.

With the placement of all four circles marked in pencil (evenly spaced apart horizontally and along the same plane vertically) I used a common drill bit to pre-drill through the board itself, and followed up with the hole saw drill bit to create my 1-3/4″ holes.

Pre-drilling isn’t always necessary with the hole saw bit, but these 2x boards are thicker than the hole saw bit is, meaning that I had to cut part way through on the board one way, and then flip it and drill through from the other side. The predrilled hole keeps everything aligned really nicely, so there was no mis-drilling on any of the four holes.

Drilling holes out of the top of the step stool for decoration and purpose.

With the top step of the stool done, I moved on to the base and assembled the frame using 2.5″ wood screws and several sized drill bits to create a counter-sunken effect. We don’t own a Kreg jig, but by pre-drilling with a small bit and then following up by drilling about 1/4″-1/2″ with a bit larger than the head of the screw, you can achieve the same finished effect by sinking the screws out of sight but still at the necessary angle.

Countersinking the screws into the base of the step stool.

Getting the base fully assembled was an effort, because the drill itself is only so tiny to get into the small area between each reinforcements. I wanted all eight screws hidden within the frame, not visible from the outside, so I made do by using Pete’s impact driver which is a bit shorter and narrower than the rest of our cordless and corded drills. Still a tighter fit than if the entire stool was 18″ long instead of 15″, but it worked well.

Assembled step stool base. Radically secure thanks to eight 2.5" wood screws.

By attaching the step stool top to the frame from beneath using four 4″ lag bolts, I was able to achieve a finished look that was clean-lined without protruding bolts and screws, and really, really sturdy.

Installing the lag bolts into the bottom of the step stool to attach the top.

The finished piece is sanded smooth but still raw wood and heavy; I’m planning on eventually giving it a coat of stain to finish it off although I’m kind of digging how nice the light wood looks beside the IKEA veneer. It’s a charming little addition to the bathroom.

Finished step stool for the bathroom.

It fits perfectly beside the sink and is easily accessed, but is completely out of the line of traffic when you’re walking into and out of the bathroom. Easy enough to slide out of the way with your foot, and thanks to the holes in the top, it’s a pinch to pick up as well.

Finished step stool for the bathroom.

Make anything handy this weekend?

  • Staci @ My Friend Staci
    6 years ago - Reply

    How cute! I love the very simple construction. Perhaps I can use the design on a much larger scale to make a bench for my patio… :D

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