Unbuilding the Ladder Stool

In the summer of 2018 I acquired a cache of 100 year old reclaimed cedar. Right away, I was itching to make something out of it, and was luck had it – I had a problem in my then tiny shop. I had neither a ladder, nor a stool – and I desperately needed both. In small shops, vertical space is your friend and things that live on the floor are your foe.

The funny thing about ‘first projects’ from newly acquired materials is the uncontrollable desire (or perhaps obsession) to do something that challenges the status quo. Encapsulated in that (at least, for me) is almost always a push to extract the most value possible from the material (it did cost a lot of money, afterall) while expressing a high degree of ingenuity solving a problem.

Since this build was more technical than I was experienced with, I went to my favorite 3D modeling software – Sketchup – and drew this up:

and then, over the next few months, I slowly built it exactly as I modeled it:

Every project is a one-off prototype – but I didn’t know that in 2018. I was certain this would be the end-all-be-all ladder stool. Heck, it might even made a great design for a commercially viable product!

It wasn’t.

It was an ok seat. There was a piano hinge that – despite being recessed – was not comfortable to sit on. I never rounded over any of the edges, so it had a tendency to bite, scrape, and leave marks on the skin.

It’s a terrible ladder. It was too narrow, tipped easily, and ‘clenched’ you between it’s support structure when you stepped onto it. The second step wasn’t sturdy and the top step wasn’t usable.

I couldn’t get myself to admit it was a failure. I kept looking at it thinking “I can fix this.” But I never did.

Instead, it was a stand for my oscillating spindle sander until recently.

So, I decided it’s time to take it apart and reuse the materials for other projects.

Surprisingly, this has been a weight lifted for me.

On to the next project!