Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Very Old, Very Rough Stepstool

Something about this wretched thing appeals to me. I can't part with it, even though it's basically a hunk of firewood.

It's very old; there's evidence of cut nails in it.

There's also evidence that it may have been upholstered at one time, for use as a small ottoman, possibly.

I could take it to pieces and do a full-blown restoration of it, but that could turn into a career, and there's really no point. This thing probably looked old and rough when it was brand new. What might be worth doing is reinforcing the attachment of the two 'legs'. They're just nailed in place, and consequently they tend to 'give' a bit under load. I can install wooden dowels to make the assembly rigid. Then, I can at least have use of the thing as a knock-about stepstool in the basement. That sounds like a plan to me.

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Here's how I'll go about it.

(Note the rectangular head of a cut nail just above the dowel hole.)

That fluted dowel is 5/16" diameter x 1 1/2". I've bored a hole deep enough that the dowel sets below flush. I'll cap the hole with a cross-grain plug that I can chisel off flush. (That makes for a better appearance than having the end-grain of a dowel showing.)

One of those per leg at each side, and two per leg through the top should give me a rigid, sturdy little stepstool.

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A Complication

I've got the leg that's at its correct angle doweled on each side.

The other leg is off at an incorrect angle. Here's what I rigged up to coax it to approximately the correct angle.

It's still not right, but I've tightened that clamp about as much as I dare, so I'll drill and dowel with the clamp in place, and hope for the best.

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Both Sides Pinned and Plugged

Tomorrow, I'll pare those plugs down flush, and get on with the dowels through the top.

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Drilling Through the Top -- SUNDAY, JUNE 9, 2013

Sometimes, you have to find ways around a machine's limitations.

Note the masking tape. That stuff is a great layout aid in many situations.

Here it is with the four topside dowels installed and plugged. (I decided to go with 2" long dowel pins here.)

That's going to be a sturdy little stepstool.

This was a good example of how dowels are often far superior to any metal fastener in wood. Another one is this planter repair. (On that, I didn't bother with cross-grain plugs as I did here.)

One can make do by cutting one's own dowel pins from lengths of plain doweling, but whenever possible, I prefer to use these expansible dowel pins.

Their diameter dimension is very tightly controlled -- you'll never encounter an undersize one. Lengths of plain doweling can be a little iffy for true diameter dimension at times.

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All Done -- TUESDAY, JUNE 11, 2013

All the plugs have been pared flush, and I shimmed up the 'feet' at the low end (right side in the photo) by 3mm to level the stool.

That piece of a clementine orange crate down in front is what gave me the 3mm thick material for shimming the feet. See this post to see how that was done.

Anyway, the stepstool is now as repaired as it's going to get. It's still ugly, but at least it's no longer wretched.

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