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So, here’s a fun thing to do: make yourself some long, deep, thin floating shelves for your laundry room. Admire them. Put things on them. And then realize that at only 5’2″, your new organization plan still has a few holes in it. Specifically that you can’t really reach them all that well to get to all of your everyday laundry stuff.

one board challenge - modern step stool - The Ugly Duckling House

I know, looking at pictures of me, it’s incredibly surprising that I’m short, right? Ok, no one in the history of ever has spoken those words, but I’m almost always the shortest person in the room. So even though my plan to use some of the underutilized wall space in the top right corner of my laundry room was a much better plan than constantly reaching over my new washer and dryer to get to the shelf under the window (which is now narrower and serves as a little greenhouse), I still needed one more item to make it functional: a modern and stylish step stool. And when Jen from House of Wood announced that she wanted some building bloggers to try their hand at creating something from a single 1x8x8 board, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to 1) reach back out to the DIY blogger world (I haven’t done that much lately!) and 2) get a much-needed project crossed off the list.

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However. I procrastinated and found myself changing my mind a lot. A lot. That’s kind of the uglier side of creativity, I think. When I get inspired and have too many ideas, I tend to get overly ambitious and want to do ALL THE THINGS. Because, as you’ll see from the sheer genius of the other bloggers who participated in this challenge, you can make a lot of shit with a single board. Shelves, wine racks, benches, planters, seating, tables… the list goes on. But then you are still futzing around and you just have to jump in and get it done. So I put a little bit of a modern spin on my step stool, and I’m pretty darn happy with it. The other things I wanted to make can wait for now. (Which, btw: my newly organized garage made this whole thing a lot easier!)

One board step stool
pathetic attempt at taking Pinterest-y photos ;) Hi, random towel!

Also, remember how I suck at Google Sketch? I’ll upload the images from that as soon as I finish them this evening (if you recall just two short paragraphs ago, I changed my mind a lot as I made this, so the plans really couldn’t be done until the project was done). But for now, here’s pretty much how the cuts would go if you were to try this yourself:


One board step stool

As for the things you will need:

1. As for the assembly, it turned out to be easy once I started slapping ‘er together. First, you cut your biggest pieces that will become the two steps and the riser in between using your miter saw. Drill pocket holes where the bottom piece will connect to the middle, and where the middle will connect to the top.

Pocket holes

2. Next, rip down the rest of the board into 1 1/2-inch strips using a table saw or circular saw. Then, cut them to the following sizes:

  • 2 – 1.5″ x 5.75″ (front legs)
  • 2 – 1.5″ x 13″ (back legs)
  • 3 – 1.5″ x 11″ (middle and back supports)

One board step stool

You’ll have plenty of scrap left over to do whatever else you want.

3. Drill pocket holes in both ends of all the middle supports. I pre-primed these and gave them their first coat of paint before assembling.

One board step stool

4. Assembly! The middle supports are 2″ up from the bottom, and the back is 5.75″ up from the bottom (to align visually with the front step).

One board step stool

I created both sides first, then added the back piece to make sure everything stayed where it should be. Check to make sure it’s square and level!

One board step stool

5. Caulk and paint a final coat on the legs.

6. While all of this is happening, you can also, condition, stain, and poly the steps and riser. I wound up switching between the two parts as I waited for the other parts to dry. As for the stain color, I had both American Walnut and Dark Walnut from Rustoleum on hand, but didn’t wind up liking either color when I tested it out on one of the scrap pieces. So, I mixed them together, about half and half (slightly less American Walnut than Dark) and applied two coats. I’ve decided to call it Hot Walnut just for fun. And I plan to use Hot Walnut again when I stain the laundry room countertop (more on that in a different post!).

One board step stool

I’ve mentioned this before, but I use old socks and/or t-shirts for wiping off stain (so you’ll see a sock in some of these photos); I find that it’s a good lint-free cloth, free, and gets rid of the socks I no longer have a match for.

7. Finally, assemble the stairs and riser and quickly attach it to the base with a nail gun. I probably would have used screws, but I got impatient. And I love my nail gun.

I put it in the laundry room temporarily for these pictures, but remember to give stain some time do off-gas in your garage or a place with some ventilation. Those VOCs are no joke!

One board step stool

A couple of notes:

  • I have no idea how much weight this might hold; I tried it out temporarily as soon as I felt it was dry enough, and it seems plenty sturdy for me. Then again, I perch myself on things all the time. But, just because I’d worry about it (being the internet of things and all, gotta put disclaimers, right?), I don’t think this thing is indestructible; I’m betting if I jumped on it, it would break. It’s going to get light use in my laundry room, and I’ve already been up and down several times on it just to make sure it doesn’t fall apart ;)
  • I kinda wish I’d used a 5-degree angle on the legs rather than straight. I suppose I could go back and hack it a little if I really wanted, but I don’t care enough to do that right now since it works for the purpose it was made! :)

One board step stool

Don’t forget, there are 16 other bloggers sharing some one-board magic today, so be sure to check out my fellow building badasses and feel either incredibly inspired or woefully inferior on creativity (depending on what mood you’re in today!):

Jen – House of Wood / Katie – Addicted 2 DIY / Jaime – That’s My Letter / Sandra – Sawdust Girl / Brittany – Pretty Handy Girl / Brad – Fix This Build That / Jenn – Build-Basic / Mindi – My Love 2 Create / Amy – Her Toolbelt / Bethany – Reality Daydream / Kim – The Kim Six Fix / Elisha – Pneumatic Addict Furniture / Jessica – Decor Adventures / Karah – the space between / Emily – Merrypad

one board challenge

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  1. I love this! I have one of the cheapy IKEA stools but this has a lot more personality. I was excited to see what everyone does with their 1 board project, so I can’t wait to go and see the rest of the projects!
    What do you mean when you say you wish you had cut the legs at 5 degrees?

  2. Very cool, functional art! I remember a huge stair case like your piece in Germany i think. Mysteries are great stories you get my vote.

  3. Looks great. I like this wooden project very much. it is really great idea to make our home furnished with woods. I love furniture.