Monday, November 13, 2017

DIY Squatty Potty

The Squatty Potty.  If you've never heard of this before you should look it up.

You can buy these in many stores - like the plastic one shown above for $30, or the bamboo one below for $80.

I haven't wanted to ever pay for something like this in a store.  For one, I'm a cheapskate.  Another reason is that it's sort of like buying condoms in a store.  You don't want to make eye contact with anyone that might see you purchasing it, especially the cashier.  Also, we use one of my many stools I've made as a Squatty Potty.

But this is a bit narrow, and the top step is too tall.  So I thought I'd just make my own Squatty Potty.

I made some rough designs in SketchUp, and I'll make it out of scrap material I have.

These 2 boards will make up the top.

In order to join them and make them one bigger board I first put the boards in my bench vise and used a plane to smooth the edges.

The finishes on the 2 boards don't match perfectly, but I'll work on that later.

To join the boards I decided to use my biscuit jointer, which drills semi-circular holes in the sides of the boards.

Then I glued the biscuits into one board...

...and then joined the 2 boards with more glue and clamped them tightly.

When the glue dried I removed the clamps.

Then I ran the board through the surface planer to make it flat and to remove the old finish.

There's a small gap between the boards, but I can easily fill that in later along with all the various holes.

Next I trimmed the board down to size using my cross cut sled on the table saw.

I then used 3 push pins to bend a flexible ruler on the board...

...and drew out the shape in pencil.

I then cut out that shape on the band saw.

I decided to round the edges of the back of the board, so I traced the bottom of a spray can...

...and cut it out at the band saw as well.

Next I sanded all the edges smooth with my mouse sander.

...followed by some wood filler to fill in the gaps and holes.  Then I set it aside to dry.

While I waited I began working on the legs.  I have 2 pieces of plywood cut at an angle on one side from a previous project.

The angled cuts were cut on the band saw (with a dull blade), which left a very jagged texture.

I'd like to keep the angled sides if I can, so I screwed the 2 pieces together...

...and set up my taper jig on the table saw.

Then I cut the angled (long) side smooth.

Next I measured how long I want to make the legs...

...and cut them out on the cross-cut sled.

I want the legs for this thing to flare out a bit...about 10 degrees or so.

I don't trust the angle gauge on my table saw, but I do trust my miter saw.  So I cut a small piece of wood at 10 degrees on the miter saw...

...and used it as a guide to angle the blade on my table saw.

Next I ran the leg pieces through, making sure both angled (short) sides were parallel.

Of course, stupid me, cut the same angle on both (short) sides of both legs.  Since one (long) side of each leg is cut at an angle, this messes up things.

To better explain my error I made the following graphic.  On the left is what I was SUPPOSED to do.  But what I accidentally did is what's on the right.  Each leg should have been a mirrored image of each other.  But instead I made 2 of the exact same piece. I trimmed off the original angled (long) side I created with the taper jig.

Now both legs are even.

Then I used wood filler to fill the drill holes from earlier and then let it dry.

Once the wood filler on all the pieces dried I sanded them with my orbital sander.

Next I used my speed square to mark where the legs will go on the bottom side of the top board.

But before I attach the legs I wanted to shape them better and give them feet.  I drew a semi-circle on the bottom of one leg...

...and cut it out at the band saw.

I then traced the shape onto the other leg and cut it out too.  Then I sanded the cut areas.

Once smooth I used glue and brad nails to attach the legs.

Then I let the glue dry.

Next it was time to make some supports for the legs.  For this I'll use another sheet of leftover plywood.

I cut 2 small strips on the table saw...

...and placed them against the back of the legs so I could trace in pencil where to cut.

The miter saw was still set at 10 degrees and matched the lines drawn on the plywood.  I then cut the 2 pieces to size.

The fit was perfect.

Before I attached the supports, I sanded them.

Then used glue alone to attach them to the rest of the piece.  Some weights held the supports down as a clamp held the sides in place.

Once dry everything was nice an strong.

Unfortunately since I messed up the cuts on the legs earlier, they look a bit too thin for the whole thing.

In order to extend the legs a bit, I'm going to try using some of the cut off pieces that I originally cut the legs out of.

First I cut the pieces on the table saw to be even.

Instead of using the table saw to cut the miters, I instead used that block of wood I cut earlier at a 10 degree angle to set the bevel on my miter saw.

Then I cut the extensions for the legs.

Next I drew a curve for the front of the extension...

...and cut it out at the band saw.

I sanded the curve smooth on the belt sander.

This will definitely add more support and it doesn't look too bad either.

With the extensions done, I glued them to the existing legs.  I used some spring clamps to help keep the extensions and legs aligned.

Then I used bar clamps to apply a little pressure.

Once the glue was set I removed all the clamps.

It's looking pretty good.  It sits flay on the ground with the exception of the front right foot, which is slightly higher towards the front.

A little sanding fixed that problem.  While I had the sander out, I gave everything another round of sanding.  This removed the little bit of glue squeeze out.

Then it was time for the last bits of filling.

Once the filler dried I sanded once more using my orbital sander.  I then used my mouse sander to round over all the edges.

And finally I sanded the whole thing by hand with fine sandpaper.

After "testing" it out successfully I cleaned the whole thing with a damp rag.

And then applied stain.

The stain color looks good, but it didn't stick to some of the filler on the top, nor the knots in the wood.

After letting the stain dry, I used some flat black spray paint to cover the areas the stain didn't stick to.

Then I let it dry overnight.  The next morning I prepped it for polyurethane.

I apply polyurethane to one side and then let it dry.  Once dry I give it a light sanding.  For this I like to use fine sanding sponges.

I use a square sponge and a parallelogram sponge.  The parallelogram sponge is great for getting in tight corners.

Once the light sanding is done I clean up the dust with a tack cloth.

 Then I apply another layer of poly.  

That process goes on and on until I get the finish I want.

This finish was completed after 2 days and about 6-8 coats of polyurethane.

I should also note that I used some lacquer thinner mixed in with my polyurethane which results in a more watery-less thick poly.  I had to do this because my polyurethane was starting to become goopy in the can.  Adding lacquer thinner pretty much turns regular polyurethane into wipe-on polyurethane.

With the poly all dry, I gave it one last sanding and one last clean up with the tack cloth.

And I'm all done!

Not too bad looking!

It's the right height and length, and when not in use it can be stored easily in front of the toilet or even to the side of the toilet.

My only problem now is that I have 2 bathrooms and only one Squatty Potty.  I may have to build another one!

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