How to make a DIY step stool

A tutorial on how to build a small step stool for your bathroom or kitchen.

Being a parent is full of challenging but sweet moments, especially when our little babies grow into curious toddlers. 

They’re always on the lookout for new experiences and we’re happy to make it happen – washing their hands with soapy water,  making home-made playdough in the kitchen, or rubbing toothpaste all over the bathroom mirror.

Ok, maybe not that last one.

After having 3 kids, one of the most useful things in my house is something I made myself – a wooden step stool. 

The step stool gives the kids a safe, easy way to do things by themselves in busy spaces like the bathroom or kitchen. 

And it doesn’t cost much to make. This project cost me nothing because I used scrap pieces of wood I had on hand.

Let’s show you how to build one of your own.

wooden step stool in a bathroom

SIDE NOTE: For this tutorial, you will be using a 10” board. Originally, I used a scrap 8″ board that I had on hand but I wished it was a little longer (a larger base would make it sturdier).

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DIY STEP STOOL


MATERIALS:

TOOLS:

You can print the material list and instructions below.


THE PLANS:

To help with this project, I created some free printables. You will need to subscribe to my newsletter to receive the FREE PDF. If you have questions, please visit the Q&A page on free printables/plans.

Step Stool – FREE Plans

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STEP 1: CUT THE WOOD

Cut the boards according to this list.

CUT LIST:

(2) – 1″x10″x10.75″ (SIDES)
(2) – 1″x10″x12″ (BOTTOM & TOP STEPS)
(4) – 1″x2″x9.75″ (STEP TRIM)
(2) – 1″x2″x7.25″ (BOTTOM STEP TRIM)

The plans listed above have diagrams to show you how to make the cuts. The image below shows how each board will look after cutting:

diagram of wood pieces for stool

After cutting the boards to the right lengths, the side pieces of the step stool (actual size 9.25″x10.75″) need to be cut into an “L” shape. 

To do this, mark both side pieces 5.25 inches from the top to bottom and 5.25 inches from one side. Then, connect the marks to form a square on one corner. 

Then, cut out the marked square in each board using a jigsaw.

SIDE NOTE: If you don’t have a jigsaw, I used my miter saw, only cutting to the end of each line. Then, I turned the board over to cut again. After, I broke the rectangle away and sanded down the broken part. 

Next, cut the bottom of the step. This will look like a “T” when finished. 

Taking the 12″x9.25″ board, mark a rectangle into one corner. The rectangle will be 1.25″x5.25″.Then, mark another rectangle in the corner on the same 12-inch side (1.25″x5.25″). After marking, cut the rectangles using a jigsaw.

SIDE NOTE: I again used the same cutting method to create the side pieces on this bottom step.

Now you need to cut the top step to the right size. Mark a line 5.75″ into the 9.25″ side. Then, cut along that line to make the board 5.75″ instead of 9.25″.

SIDE NOTE: I again used my miter saw but my saw is not long enough to cut straight through, so I just turn the wood around to finish the cut (turned so the uncut side will be against the blade).

cutting a piece of wood with a miter saw for stool

At this point, all the wood pieces are cut to the plans.

STEP 2: ADD POCKET HOLES TO BOARDS

Now, create pocket holes to secure the wood together using the list provided below or the plans.

(2)- on the top of each side piece
(4)- on each of the 9.75″ trim pieces (one on each 2″ side and two for the length)
(2)- on each of the 7.25″ trim pieces (along the length)

Remember the pockets will all be on the inside of the stool frame.

STEP 3: SAND THE BOARDS

Next, sand all the wood with #220 grit sandpaper. An orbital sander makes this easier.

After, wipe all the wood with a cloth to clean the surface. 

STEP 4: ASSEMBLE THE STEP STOOL

Before starting with the assembly of the stool, I want to let you know that there are not many pictures, sorry! But don’t worry, the plan has diagrams to help.

To start putting the stool together, attach two for the 9.75″ trim pieces to the top side pieces, using the side pockets in the trim pieces (the 2″ side will be facing out). This is the frame for your top step.

TIP: Make sure your pockets on the side board are facing the right way to attach the top step (inward).

I placed these trim pieces 1/4″ inset from the front edge of the side piece.

After, attach the top step board to this frame.

To do this, I placed the top step board on a flat surface then placed the frame on top of the board. Then, attach the board to the frame with the screws (there will be eight).

Now, you’re ready for the bottom step. 

Take one of the 9.75″ trim pieces and attach it to the middle of the side pieces (using the side pockets on the trim pieces).

Then, the trim piece will be attached flush with the square cut out to make the “L”.

Once these pieces are attached, place the bottom step onto the frame. Making sure the step is flush with the side boards. Then, mark where the bottom of the step hit the side board. Do this for both sides.

This line is where you will place the other trim pieces. Remove the step and attach the last 9.75″ trim piece. To attach the pieces, place the trim piece 1/4″ away from the edge of the side board but right along the marked line.

Then, attach the 7.25″ trim pieces between the last two trim pieces. To connect them, place them along the marked line but only screw them into the side board without using a pocket (used two screws per side). The pockets will be used to attach the bottom step so make sure they are facing the right way.

After all the frame pieces are attached, secure the bottom step using the pockets (there will be eight).

TIP: I placed the one side of the step onto a table to help attach the board.

STEP 5: APPLY A STAIN

Now that you have assembled the full step stool, apply a coat of stain to the wood or your favorite finish. I used Provincial by Minwax

Once the coat of stain had dried, I applied two coats of polycrylic to protect the wood from getting water damage.

After the polycrylic has dried, your step stool is complete!

small wooden step stool for bathroom

What do you think? My kids are loving that they can now reach the sink – and I haven’t seen any toothpaste on the mirror either!

build a step stool