This Shaker step stool plan was finished with milk paint.

This Step Stool Plan Looks Great With Several Layers of Real Milk Paint

This Shaker step stool was so much fun to finish! I wish you could touch it. The white areas are super smooth, so when you reach the distressed sections in blue and brown, it is surprising!

Without exception, everyone, including kids, reach for the handle, pick up the step stool, and then touch it. So, be prepared for that reaction when you finish yours!




Sanding the piece makes a huge difference in the final finish.

Sanding Makes a Huge Difference!

Everything you read about sanding says the same thing:
  • start with a coarse grit sandpaper, such as 100 grit;
  • move up to to a finer grit, like 150 grit;
  • keep moving up to a very fine grit, usually 220; and
  • finally, use an extra fine 320 grit.

    And don't skip any steps! That sounds like alot of work, but it really isn't. Most of your sanding will be done with the 100 grit, which will work out most the blemishes. You will do less sanding with the 150 grit, and you will use the 220 grit and 320 grit for just a few strokes.

    The difference is VERY noticeable, and the result is very pleasing!

    Test the Finishing Steps on a Scrap of Wood

    I learned this lesson the hard way. I followed someone else's instructions, without testing, and ended up with a footstool finish that just wasn't what I wanted.

    For this test, I did 3 options. All 3 sections have the Medium Brown wood dye. The bottom section has a wash of light cream milk, and the top section has a thicker layer of slate blue milk paint. The middle section has the thicker layer of slate blue milk paint, with a not so thick layer of light cream milk paint over that.

    The middle layer was the one I chose for these free woodworking plans.

    My first step was the medium brown wood dye.

    Medium Brown Wood Dye Was Layer One.

    Usually the wood in antiques is dark, especially the wood that has been exposed to the air. So I wanted the deepest layer in the distressed areas to be dark.

    The wood dye raised the grain, so another sanding was necessary.

    Sanding the Raised Grain

    The wood dye raised the grain, so the step stool wasn't as smooth as I wanted. That meant another sanding step using only 220 and 320 grit sandpaper.

    Slate blue milk paint was used on this step stool plan.

    The Next Step is the First Layer of Milk Paint.

    As I put on the slate blue milk paint, I used a clean rag to wipe the paint off the areas I had earlier distressed, and the areas that would show the most wear, such as the handle.

    Sanding between each layer helps to achieve a smooth finish.

    Sanding Between Layers Helps Achieve a Smotth Finish

    Milk Paint is fantastic to sand smooth! I used 320 grit to get back to the ultra smooth finish I wanted.

    Light ivory milk paint was used over the slate blue milk paint.

    The Next Step is the Ivory Cream Milk Paint.

    I painted on the light cream milk paint thinking I only needed one coat. I thought it looked fine and was ready for the next sanding, UNTIL I edited the photos. In the photo, the step stool looked primarily blue, instead of primarily white.

    It took 2 coats of light cream milk paint to cover the blue.

    Another Layer of Light Cream Milk Paint Before Sanding Off Layers

    The second layer of the light cream milk paint was essential. Again, I wiped off the paint in those areas that would show wear.

    And then I started sanding away the top layers in the distressed areas. In several places I ended up sanding all the way to the bare wood. I wanted both the blue and the dark brown to show through.

    Once I was satisfied, I took the photos for this step.

    More Sanding was needed to create the distressed look.

    The Photos Looked Bland!

    The stool just wasn't interesting enough. It was so much easier to see that in the photos, than it was in person.

    LESSON LEARNED: Take photos before moving on!

    So, I did some more distressing, some more sanding away of layers, and some more photos until the contrast was pleasing.

    Then I sanded down the whole piece using 320 grit sandpaper. Then, I also rubbed the whole piece with a ScotchBrite Heavy Duty Scrubber leaving a surface as smooth as a baby's butt!

    Several layers of special acrylic clear coat were aded.

    Special Clear Coat for Milk Paint

    The last step was to protect the whole piece with the special acrylic clear coat made for milk paint. I did 3 layers with a ScotchBrite rub in between each.

    The final result was just what I was looking for!

    May you find as much enjoyment building and finishing these free wood project plans.!

    Leave "Finish Step Stool Plan" to see the other Shaker step stools you can easily build.

    We have many Shaker furniture plans, including these wooden bench plans.

    We have wood plans pdf for most of the projects we have created. Click here to see the one for this Shaker Step Stool.





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