Folding kitchen steps

We needed some steps for the kitchen since our cupboards are really high. However, we’re a bit short on floor space, so I wanted something that could fold away and not take up too much room when we weren’t using it. Not finding anything like that on the internet, I made my own plan in SketchUp and set about building it.

Here’s the first cuts of the sweet Chestnut ready for cutting into the parts which make up the stool.

After having run the pieces through the planer and thicknesser, I glued some of the more complicated pieces. Here, you can see the pair of sloped edges. Clamping them as a pair meant I could set the clamps against parallel edges.

This is the glue-up of the two pieces which make up the sides of the part which swings down. Their shape is a bit complicated because they have to fold into the upper steps. Again, gluing them as a pair meant I got nice parallel surfaces for the clamps.

I used my router to create the rebates in the sides (here are the two base edges held in place together to minimise the likelihood of tear-out).

Having milled all the pieces, I did a quick dry-run to see whether things fitted as I expected. In general, everything looked good.

Here’s the dry-fit with the steps in the “stool” configuration. The footprint of the steps when they’re folded like this is only 41cm wide by 27cm deep. They height of the final stool is also just right for resting on whilst waiting for something to cook.

Gluing up the bottom section…

and the top section.

Checking things fit together as expected once glued together.

As it turns out, not everything was quite right, so I had to shim this step to make up the difference.

I felt the steps weren’t going to resist racking too well, so I added this diagonal brace to provide better rigidity.

Adding the hinges. I looked for sprung hinges that would have made the top come down gracefully, but they were all too big for this project.

Hinges in and the first of three coats of varnish going on. I lightly sanded between coats with 1500 grit to remove small blemishes.

Steps stored in their stool configuration, taking up a relatively small area.

Here’s the steps unfolded and in use.

New shed roof

Following on from replacing the workshop roof, I needed to replace the roof of the adjacent two sheds we have. At the time of the original work, the workshop’s roof was in significantly worse condition and so that’s what we worked on first. In the intervening years, however, the other roofs have deteriorated to the point that they need replacing too (some holes in the top, slipped slates and rotting woodwork).

First order of the day was to remove the old slates. This was pretty easy as although the slates look solid enough, in reality, they were extremely brittle and broke away easily.

Slates all removed and handy hole cut in the roof for easier access.

Front portion of the roof (purlin, rafters and battens) removed. Inside was a mess!

I had to work for a day so work continued in my absence. Here the wall plate, ridge beam, purlin, rafters plus the first few rows of battens have been installed. The trick here was integrating the new roof with the roof visible to the left and a roof down the hill (not visible). This involved lots of string and carefully measuring to make sure the roofs would interlace nicely.

We added a water resistant breathable membrane under the battens to help accommodate the fact we were unlikely to complete this without it raining at some point.

Front roof battens complete.

Adding the first row of slates. We used a double layer of slates on the bottom row to allow water to fall from the roof easily.

Meshing the slates between this roof and the next was tricky as the roof on the left is pitched down the hill slightly differently. Nevertheless, we managed to get them integrated without too much hassle.

Work starts on demolishing the back.

Rear section cleared and purlin installed. We opted for a more catastrophic approach to removing the old roof here: we just pivoted the roof off the wall and onto the floor. In all, removing the rear section of the roof took about 2 minutes!

We had to notch the wall plate to get the rafters in the right position so it would interweave with the existing roof visible on the right and the bottom roof just about visible on the left.

Not a bad view from the top!

First battens being installed along with the breathable membrane.

The view from inside. I like the fact it was nice and bright inside, so I decided I would roof part of the back of the roof with plastic tiles. In the end I had to have custom cut plastic since nothing was available for sale. The cost per plastic “slate” was about ten times more than an actual slate. Lesson learned!

Making progress on the front section. You can see where the pitches of the old roof and the new section don’t quite align (slight dip in the line of the bottom row).

However, the dip is less pronounced further up the roof.

Back section being slated.

Darker inside now the slates are going on.

Adding more slates to the back.

I ordered some plastic online to be cut to the dimensions of the slates. I needed to add a bevel to the edges so that water would run off each plastic slate just like it does for a real slate. I quickly set up this set of blocks so I could put multiple sheets down at once and bevel all their edges in one pass with my router. I needed to use the edge of my workbench as a guide as the plastic wasn’t thick enough to receive the router bit’s bearing.

Installing the plastic “slates” was straightforward. I’d drilled holes to match those in the real slates, so they were just like the others. I did three rows of plastic which with hindsight wasn’t the best idea. It would have let in more light if I had done a narrower but taller section. However, I had already slates the rows up to that point and didn’t fancy undoing my work!

Plastic slates installed.

The plastic slates look pretty good from ground level. I’ve also added the ridge tiles here to complete the roof.

Whilst I was at it, I replaced the doors of the two lower sheds to match the top one I did a couple of years ago (nearest to me).

The new doorway no longer has an impromptu cat flap in it!

I added a roof to the firewood shed with some of the less consistent slates. The wood for this little roof is the door frames from the shed doors I replaced.

Iย  happened to have a roughly 1 metre long piece of lead flashing which I fashioned over the firewood shed roof ridge.