In thinking my three (soon to be four) boys I want to be able to teach to use their hands to make and fix things. Being a computer programmer I know that in order to pass on these skills to my sons that I need to develop them myself.
The kids are frequently in the kitchen trying to help mommy or washing their hands so a stool seemed like a useful project to start honing my skills. I did some Googling and I found a plan to build a three step kitchen stool on the Popular Mechanics web site.
Overall I was very satisfied with this stool. It's rock solid and is definitely something that will be around for years and years (unlike something you would buy at Walmart or even IKEA).
Here are a few things I learned while making this stool.
Don't be intimidated by new tools or processes – I never used a chisel, glued boards together, planed boards or recessed screws with wood plugs, but I found each of things steps to be fairly straight forward. I dove right in an was able to learn a few things.
Lining up boards joined with dowels is tricky. I think if I were going to join boards together on a regular basis I'd look into a joining tool. Lining up the holes where the dowels sit was not very straightforward (even though I marked the middle of the board, the drill seemed to shift).
Be careful of different colored wood filler – I had some white color wood filer hanging around and decided to use it to fill in the gaps that were left by my cutting. Bad idea, I should have gotten some wood filer that was the same color as my boards. The result is that the filler did not blend in when the stool was stained.
Watch carefully if cutting a curve with a jig saw – I don't know happened, but I must have stopped paying attention for a second while cutting the bottom curve with my jig saw. What I got a flat spot in the curve that I tried to smooth out with my Dremel tool.
Overall the project was a success. The boys watched the construction of the whole project (preoccupying them for many evenings) and now they have a piece of furniture that they helped to construct. It was a learning process for Daddy as much as for them, but after all, that was the point of this particular project.