Woodworking Project: How To Make a Step Stool With Built-in Storage

A step stool is an important part of your child's independence, and adults will also find it helpful to reach upper cabinets and tall shelves. This simple woodworking project is one that the whole family can help build.

By: Timothy Dahl
Related To:

Build Two: One For the Bathroom and One For the Kitchen

A step stool has the ability to magically reveal a whole new world to a toddler. Suddenly, brushing their teeth and raching the kitchen counter pose no problem. This is a great project to involve the kids, so let the creativity soar and have fun with color and paint. Customize it with their name or let them go wild with stencils and stickers.

Tools and Materials

For this project, you'll need: jigsaw; cordless drill with a 1/2" bit; square or ruler; 2" wood screws; wood glue; sanding block with medium-grit sandpaper; 1x12x8' pine board (11-1/4" wide is standard); 2 standard hinges and paint.

Cut List

All pieces of this stool can be cut from one piece of 1x12x8' pine board. Cut the board this way: (2) sides pieces at 14"; (2) storage panel pieces (front and back) at 12-1/2"; (1) storage box bottom at 5-1/2"; toe-kick piece at 5-1/4" and (2) step stool tops at 7-1/2".

Draw Lines

Use a square and pencil to measure and mark the cuts for all the pieces of the step stool as well as the handle holes.


Use a jigsaw to make the straight cuts.

Cut Handles and Arches

For the best results on the handles, drill a hole a bit larger than the jigsaw blade in the center of the area to be cut out. Then insert the jigsaw blade and follow your markings around the circular handle openings. Finish by cutting out the bottom decorative arches.


Sand all edges using medium-grit sandpaper. Remember, this stool will likely be moved from room to room and handled by precious toddler skin, so take extra care in making sure all edges are as smooth as possible.

Dry Fit

Line up all of the cut pieces and make sure they fit together nicely. If any adjustments need to be made, do that now.

Attach the Back to the Sides

To assemble the pieces, start by attaching the back of the stool to the sides by gluing the pieces together, then securing them with the screws.

Add the Bottom

Attach the bottom of the stool to the back and the sides using that same technique.

Attach the Front Piece and Step

Secure the front section of the stool storage area, then the front toe-kick panel. Attach the bottom step.

Add Hinges

On the bottom side of the top step, line up the hinges 3" from the outermost end. Attach them to the bottom of the lid. Then attach them to the inner side of the back panel.

Other Options

For added safety and traction, consider adding grip tape to the tops of each step. Also, since little hands aren't very adept at doing anything gently, you can add a felt strip where the top lid touches the stool to reduce slamming the lid when it is closed.

Paint and Decorate

Paint, stencil, engrave and decorate your storage stool to your heart's content.

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