In their quest for order and efficiency, the Shakers built chests of drawers and cabinets that made good use of available space, often stretching from floor to ceiling. Step stools like the one shown below evolved to enable household members to gain access to the uppermost shelves. Depending on individual needs, the stools were made in two-, three-, and four-step versions. The taller stools often featured steadying rods screwed to the side to provide a hand hold.
Although these stools appeal to the modern eye, usefulness was the Shaker builder's sole concern. Through dovetails were chosen to attach the treads to the sides because the interlocking joints gave the stools strength and stability. Step-by-step instructions for cutting the joints by hand, much as a Shaker crafts man might have done, are provided starting on page 130.
The stools were traditionally cut from %-inch-thick cherry, except for the /¿-inch-thick crosspieces. Once you have cut your stock for the sides of the stool, use a pencil to mark the top, bottom, and front and back edges of each piece. This will help you avoid any confusion when you come to cut the pins at the sides' top ends.
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