Stepping Stone Part 1 of 2

Length of Project:
Project theme:
Suitable for grades:
Tools & Materials
Material List
  • 6' - 2x4 SPF
  • eight 3" duplex nails OR eight 3" wood screws
Tool list
  • safety glasses
  • ear protection (if using power tools)
  • measuring tape
  • saw (backsaw or crosscut saw)
  • c-clamp or similar
  • If using nails

  • hammer
  • If using screws

  • electric drill
  • countersink twist bit, 1/32" less in diameter than screw
  • driver bit (match screw head)
  • Optional

  • mitre box (for cutting ease and accuracy)
  1. Safety first - wear safety glasses and have ear protection available if using power tools.
  2. Measure and mark your 2x4 at 13 ½".
  3. Use the speed square to continue the line along the face of your 2"x4".
  4. Continue the line along the edge of your 2"x4".
  5. If you are using a mitre box:

  6. Position your cut line at the 90° slot on the mitre box. Hold the 2x4 in place with one hand tightly against the front edge as shown. Let the mitre box guide your saw through the cut. You may choose to secure the wood to the table with a clamp.
  7. If you are using a crosscut saw:

  8. Secure the 2x4 on a flat surface with a clamp. For best cutting results, angle the saw at 45° (using the speed square to check the angle) and cut on the forward check your angle).
  9. To start your cut, make a kerf (cut) in the wood by moving the saw back and forth about an inch at a time. You can use your thumb as a guide to get the cutting started. It is recommended that you have a pair of gloves on in case the saw slips. Once you have cut a groove in the wood, it should act as a guide for the sawing process. Cut on the forward motion, pushing the saw with a nice easy stroke, letting the saw do the work.
  10. If you are using an electric mitre saw:

  11. Make sure the safety guards are in place and check the power cord for any damage. To ensure the saw is cutting square, check to see if the blade is cutting 90° to the table of the saw. A speed square can be used for this procedure.
  12. To ensure accuracy in your cut, position your 2x4 so that your blade cuts on the waste side of your mark. Hold the wood tightly against the fence (keeping your hand away from the rotating blade) and lower the blade, cutting the wood.
  13. Assemble the mold:

  14. For the ease of forming the stepping stone, all the pieces should be cut the same length and assembled using the wrap around method. For a 12" square stepping stone, the boards should be 13 1/2" long (add the thickness of the 2x4, 1 1/2", to 12").
  15. Dry fit your boards in a wrap-around method, as pictured, to make a perfect square frame.
  16. Draw a line 3/4" in from the end of each 2x4 (which is 1/2 the thickness of the 2x4) and 3/4" in from each side. This will centre the fasteners on the adjacent board and far enough from the ends to help prevent splitting.
  17. If you are using screws:

  18. To also help prevent splitting, use the countersink twist bit to drill two pilot holes at the marks.
  19. Clamp one 2x4 in place horizontally, place another 2x4 on the end, and use your drill to insert 2 screws. Reposition your form and add 2x4s until you have a square frame.
  20. If you are using duplex nails:

  21. Place each nail head-down on a hard surface, and gently tap the sharp end of each nail with the hammer to dull the point.  This will help to prevent splitting of the wood when you hammer them into the end of the 2x4s.
  22. Use your hammer to drive 2 nails about 3/4" into the end of each 2x4 as shown.
  23. Drive the nails into the end of each neighbouring board until you have a square frame.
  24. Check for square:

  25. Use your tape measure to check that your frame is square: both diagonals (measuring corner-to-corner) should be the exact same measurement.
  26. Head to Stepping Stone Part 2 of 2 to fill your newly made form with concrete.
Extension Challenges
  1. Make a larger mold to make a concrete pad at the base of a path or stairs. Use it as a place students can sign their names or write a message to others.
  2. Make a custom-shaped metal form to pour concrete into and make an entire set of matching stepping stones. Keep in mind that a tapered form that is oiled before placing the concrete will release the finished concrete more easily.
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