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This shaker step stool can be varnished or painted.

Make Wood Step Stool:
Then Paint or Varnish It

After the construction your wood step stool, you have many options for finishing it. With each choice you will create a different look and feel.

The stained and varnished step stool above is very simple. We used the one step stain and sealer from MinWax.

Check out Ana White plans book The Handbuilt Home: 34 Simple Stylish and Budget-Friendly Woodworking Projects for Every Room published in the fall of 2012. Ana White is well known for her Kreg plans for the woodworking beginner. Even if you only use one plan out of the 34 included in the book, the purchase price will be well worth it!

Milk paint in a slate blue was my choice for this 2-step stool.

But I wanted to try using milk paint on one of these Shaker step stools. I read quite a few articles about distressing the project to look old, and then how to use milk paint to complete the look.

You can use many different objects to distress wood furniture.

My first step was to collect my woodworking distressing kit. As you can see from the photo, this is neither fancy nor expensive. [But I did see a set of distressing tools in one of the woodworking tool catalogs.]

This old 1-step foot stool was found in Grandpa's woodshop.

Some articles recommended that you find a photo of an old project similiar to yours, and then copy the wear from that piece.

Ben found this step stool is his 93 year old Grandpa's woodshop.

Grandpa's step stool was naturally distressed.

You can see the wear patterns in this close-up photo.

The instructions I read recommended that you focus the distressing around the areas that would most likely to be bumped and scratched. So, I wailed away at the corners, the front edges of the steps, and the bottom of the sides.

IT WAS HARD TO PURPOSEFULLY "WRECK" a perfectly good piece of furniture, so I pretended that I was 5 years old, when wrecking things was normal. And that made it more fun.

When I felt like I knew enough, I ordered the slate blue milk paint from Woodcraft

We used blue milk paint on this Shaker step stool.

When I received the milk paint I read all of the instructions before mixing up a little batch of paint. Applying the paint was easy, and I was pleased with the result.

Dark brown Briwax was applied over the slate blue milk paint.

Once the milk paint was completely dry, I applied a wax finish. With just one coat this dark brown Briwax was darker than I wanted. You have to seach to find the slate blue under the wax finish. And the directions said to apply it 3 times. . . .

Brown wax was applied to this Shaker Step Stool over the blue milk paint.

The result was very dark!

I used a soft rag - old socks work great because you can turn them inside out, and have another clean area on the rag.

The wax absorbed into the end grain very nicely, but it didn't absorb into some of the distressed areas. As a result, new wood shows through, defeating the old, well used look I was after.

Dyeing the wood before applying the milk paint works best


The first lesson I learned was that you need to dye the wood first. That dye is also available from Woodcraft.

So, that is what I will do for my next project. Sign up for the ezine so you can see how that one turns out.

That dye is also available from Woodcraft.

So, that is what I will do for my next project. Sign up for the ezine so you can see how that one turns out.

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These simple stool plans were finished to look old.

My second lesson was to be patient.

After I had applied the wax, I didn't like the feel of the finish. You just couldn't run your fingers easily over the top.

But after it had dried for several weeks, it felt the same as the stained and varnished one made from these simple stool plans.

Your wood working project may be just fine in a couple of days.

Even if this free beginner wood project isn't perfect, it still is special.

The third lesson I learned was to practice on a scrap piece of wood. I am always telling the boys, "To get good at anything, you must practice, practice, practice." I need to practice that advice myself!

It is hard to tell the difference between the old step stool and the new one.

Even though my finished step stool wasn't perfect, it was still satisfying to complete it!

And the look was very close to Grandpa's step stool!

Choose 1-step, 2-step or 3-step stools from make wood step stool.

Our simple stool plans make great beginner wood projects for kids. For younger kids you could completely assemble the piece with your pocket hole jig, and have them paint it.

For pre-teens, you could cut the pieces and have them use the pocket screw jig to drill the pocket holes. They could also assemble the step stool using Kreg clamps.

For middle school kids, they could make this wood step stool from scratch.

Click here to go see the construction of the other simple stool plans we have.

How to build a free beginner wood project can be found in our bench section.

Make a wood step stool, or other shaker style furniture.

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