Convertible Step Stool & Chair

I found a really old plan from Woodworker’s Journal for this convertible step stool and chair. I searched for a Sketchup drawing to build this project for my website, but I had no luck, so I made one myself. Not being an expert I found the exercise somewhat challenging. However, I would like to share my work with other woodworkers.
Any comments appreciated. Thank you.

Convertible Step Stool & Chair.skp (726.5 KB)

Since I first added this .skp, i took the suggestions and worked on the components. I think I improved file, but would appreciate any comments about the updated file. How did I do on improving the Sketchup file?

Nice work. Now you can add the joinery. ; )

That’s a very interesting design you have there, it looks good.

I notice you have components nested inside groups. In my opinion, this only leads to more work down the road as or when you want to change something. I’ve said it before but again, I used to do that and still kick myself for it.
In your model for example, if you add or move components inside the groups I’ve highlighted, it will not be reflected in the copy of it. The solution would be to delete the “old” copy, then copy the changed one over again. That is if you remember! Which in turn can lead to errors if you end up working off the “old” one.
If you switch these groups for components any changes you make to one will be reflected in the other automatically. You can think a bit less and have added peace of mind.
One thing I note is that you have two variations of backrest. You can still use components for these, all you have to do is make the top level component unique and switch out the back components inside these.

There is a reversed face on the upper rail of the stool. You can correct this by selecting it, right click, reverse face.

I hope this helps you. I do mean it with good intentions. DaveR promoted the nested component thing to me and it will make things a heck of a lot easier if changes are needed.

If there’s anything in particular that you struggled with, just mention it and I’m sure others will jump in to help out.

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Nice start on the model. As @davidheim1 said, next, add the joinery.

I agree with Ian’s suggestions. You’ll find it is easier and prone to fewer errors.

As for your modeling, I think you’ll find it easier and faster if you get in the habit of drawing the parts in place where they’ll live. This allows you to use what you’ve already drawn as references, you don’t need to know as many dimensions up front (let SketchUp tell you the dimensions) and again, less chance for errors.

As an example from the axis alignment, it looks like you drew the back standing on end on the ground plane. If you did, then you would have needed to rotate the component several times to get it into place. Or did you change the axes while or after making the component?

In either case, with the axes oriented as they are, dragging another copy of the component into the model space would have it standing on end. Look at how it appears in the In Model components collection.
Screenshot - 12_9_2017 , 6_30_12 AM

Another thing you can do to make your modeling easier is leverage the ability to copy and flip geometry to make symmetrical shapes. You can see that the curves aren’t the same left and right on the back piece. Instead of trying to draw mirrored curves, draw them on one half and copy them to the other side.

An easy way to do that is with the copy function of the Rotate tool.

I would suggest using precise dimensions. When your dimensions are only approximate as are most of yours, modifications to the model will be more difficult. And if you plan to build this for real, it will be difficult to intentionally create parts with those dimensions.
Screenshot - 12_9_2017 , 6_42_55 AM

It’s also helpful to give the components useful names as you go. With a list of parts like this, it’s difficult to tell what is what.

Keep plugging away and it’ll all fall into place.


Hi Dave,

Your explanation of components was brilliant, I had no idea that you could bring back stored components in a logical way and in the correct orientation, or change their names into something logical.

It will take me some time to absorb all this, but I now know sort of what to do. Just takes time!

Thanks, check out my website for other project I’ve built using sketchup (now I can do it better)

I updated the file, so any new comments about what I did to improve my process of drawing the model will be greatly appreciated.

Where can I find that component list of dimensions in Sketchup that you showed on this page?

The component list of dimensions is known as a cutlist. Download the plugin called Cutlist from the Extension Warehouse (You can find the link to the Warehouse in the Window tab at the top of the screen).