Foot stool from offcuts

One of the dilemmas of engaging in woodworking on a regular basis is what to do with offcuts. That is, those pieces of leftover timber that appear too short for most jobs but are too precious to throw away. I usually dispose of small pieces of softwood in the green recycling bin, but tend to hang on to hardwoods.


1 Main foot stool components

Following my farmhouse chair build – see August 2021 issue – I found myself with a sapele offcut having made the seat. It was 56mm thick and around 630mm wide but only 175mm long, so I decided to saw the section into square blanks, which measured 56mm square × 175mm long. These, along with some 68 × 18mm sapele, would provide the base for a foot stool I was making for my mother’s 80th birthday.


2 Shallow tenons connect the legs


The foot stool’s construction is straightforward and relies on traditional mortise & tenon joints. Using my lathe, I turned four legs from the 175mm blanks, with a ring and vabe profile, leaving an approximate 75mm square section. The four 68mm rails connecting the legs at each corner are set back 5mm from each edge.


3 Bolection profile in a homemade scratchstock, which makes use of a tenon saw blade

On the rails, I cut 25mm deep barefaced tenons for the 10mm wide mortises, which were chopped out (photo 2). I added a bead moulding to the rails using a scratchstock, having made the cutter from an old tenon saw blade using a round file (photo 3).


4 Foot stool with softwood top prior to attaching the plywood

Producing the moulding by hand is much more time-consuming than using a router, but very satisfying. I glued the whole stool base in one using sash cramps on a level surface, checking the diagonals for square. I finished the base with three applications of liquid wax. I made the top from 50 × 25mm timber with 6mm plywood glued on (photo 4).

I chose to use pine here – a softwood – as it provided an easier surface for fixing the upholstery and would also be hidden. As a precaution, however, I softened the rectangular frame’s corners. As I’d made use of offcuts, the only additional items I had to buy were a rectangular cushion inner and some material, which I found online via Tuppence Collective and subsequently printed as a 1 × 1.35m section.


5 After a long day and as a means of supporting tired legs, the foot stool comes into its own

This was then stapled to the top frame’s underside, and the frame secured to the base with metal brackets. All in all, this project was a successful exercise in terms of showing how offcuts can be effectively reused to make other items. More importantly, my mother was pleased with the end result and the foot stool now resides in front of her settee, where it serves as a perch for tired legs at the end of a long day.