Design and Model a Professional Carpenter's Footstool

March 23, 2017


Sometimes a bench is better than a bucket

Who hasn't stood on an overturned mud bucket to do some trim work or sat on a bucket to install hardware?  Sometimes you just gotta do what it takes. 

But besides being a bit unsafe to stand on, the 'bucket stool' is uncomfortable to sit on. 

A better way is to use a carpenter's footstool.  Plus a well designed and well crafted stool is a great marketing tool... clients never fail to comment on what is basically a small piece of furniture being used on a job.

This model is based on a real footstool that I have used every day for the last twenty years, and have decided to replace.

I'll cover the construction part in another video. This video concentrates on design and modeling basics. 

1:26: Footstool design considerations

  • 14-1/2 inches tall with a standing surface of 24 in. x 10 in. is targe enough to stand on and puts the ceiling within reach with one step. It also makes a spacious seat.
  • The footprint should be wider than the top in both directions.
  • The tapers in the footstool are functional, but embellished for ornamentation.
  • Tray and rails at bottom are sturdy enough to stand on and holds many tools.
  • Rounded slot for easy carrying and drilling clearance.
  • Crisp edges on top make good angles for bending sheet metal.
  • Bevels on bottom of legs prevents splintering from being dragged across concrete floors.
  • Round hole between feet is a strain relief cutout to prevent splitting along the grain.
  • Constructed with no screws or nails. All wedged tennon construction.


Part 2: Modeling the top and legs (5:22)

To model efficiently, split the leg in half. Make it a component, Leg Quadrant.

Copy and move a quadrant next to itself, so that there are two halves of the leg, and scale the second one through itself to -1.

Copy and move the two leg halves to the other end of the stool and reverse its scale to -1, which will give the correct angle, 10 degrees.

Now, there are two legs made from four halves, slanted the right direction, and all four leg halves are components. When work is done to one quadrant, it is done to all in the correct orientation.

Taper the leg width: give the top a 1 inch overhang 

  • Measure 1 inch in from top edge, mark.
  • Use protractor to find the angle and draw a line with the pencil tool.
  • Push/pull the waste part of the lag.

 Add the strain-relief cutout

  • Measure in from the center 3/4 inch.
  • Draw a line toward center at 40 degrees (protractor and pencil).
  • Draw 1-1/8 inch circle using the end point of this line as the circle's center.
  • Delete the half circle that is outside the leg quadrant.
  • Push/Pull the circle out of the leg quadrant.
  • Cut out the 40 degree cutouts.

Notch the outside bottom edge of the legs.

Trim the bottom of the legs to sit flat on the floor.

Tip: For working on complicated and overlapping geometry, copy and move a quadrant out from the model so that you can work on a little piece at a time. You can delete the copy when you're finished because the changes have already been made to the model.

Trim off the tops of the legs so that the top is continuous.


Other parts of this tutorial:

  • Adding wedged tennons (17:02)

  • Modeling the bottom tray and rails (22:22)

  • Cutting the hand hole in the top (28:45)

  • Making wedges for the tennons (30:45)

  • Adding textures and color (33:30)


—Matt Jackson is a master carpenter, remodeler, SketchUp Wiz, YouTuber, and contributing editor to ProTradeCraft. He lives and works in Rapid City, South Dakota.