Tie Helper

My friend, Terry, the Shoe Man, wanted to come up with bench with a footrest that would help people tie their shoes.

After considerations such as seen below...Terry came up with a footrest design that pivoted...it is called the Tie Helper

Design Consideration

Design of Production Model

Wood Selection and Milling

Final Milling and Joinery

Hardware Installs



Design Considerations

Early design ideas included a bench with an attached footrest...

Then we separated the two pieces...I created a low bench for my personal use.

Terry worked with a footrest that would be hinged and could adjust for best typing angle...

Prototype 1

This working model was made of plywood and metal hardware.

It was heavy and clunky but proved the theory.


Prototype 2

This was designed to be lighter...

Shown here with footrest tilted...

View from the rear of the assembly.


Sketchup of Proto2

Rear view of Sketchup of Proto2

Upper assembly terms

Lower assembly terms

Production Model Design

Prototype 3

Proto3 design was created in Sketchup to take the ideas from the working model and come up with a unit that would function appropriately and have improved design and appearance.

Rear view...

Base Assembly

Terms...click for a larger view.

Footrest Assembly

Terms...click for a larger view.

Wood Selection and Milling

For the creation of the production prototype, Proto3...

I used light colored wood that was readily available in the attic.

After milling the slabs, it was clear that the hard woods were some oak and maple.

The 1/2 inch plywood strips were cypress and birch.

I also resurfaced a warped piece of radiata paine...

This mix will be a smorgasbord but it will suffice for the two prototypes that I plan to build.


Final Milling and Joinery

During this prototype build I was constantly looking at each step...assessing various methods and machines...always looking at how to do it in production mode with an eye to do it quicker, simpler and better...



First decision...how to mill the rebate on the side trim for the foot plate and the base plate.

The side trim is solid wood, milled to .75 x .75...the trim will hide and protect the edge of the plywood.

The 1/2 plywood, of course, is actually only 15/32 inch thick.

First did it at the router...the rebate was 3/8" x 15/32"...

The corners of the trim will be mitered.

Routing the thin stock in one pass was a bit rocky...but I wanted to avoid having to do multiple passes.

The lower piece here is the rough cut that I got at the router table...the top piece was rebated at the table saw...this will be the preferred method.

I used a sacrificial MDF fence and the 1/4 inch Infinity flat cut blade...I raised the height to 15/32 plus a skosh so that the edge trim sits very slightly pround of the plywood surface.
The blade was recessed very slightly into the MDF...so the width of the rebate, in one pass, is about 1/32 less that 1/4 inch...

Plate Assemblies

The trim was mitered and attached to the foot plate and base plate with glue and 23g pins.

Foot Plate Assembly

after the trim was put on the foot plate, I made the angle sides...cut these at the MFT3...1/2 inch radiata pine blank was laid out to allow one cut to create two sides...


...then the two sides were gangcut to make them the same size.
The angle sides were attached to the bottom side of the foot plate with glue and 23g pins.

Design change on location of the foot plate assembly

Terry wanted to move the foot plate assembly forward...decided that I would make one of the units have the ends coplanar...

...and one unit would have the foot assembly extend further out over the end of the base assembly.

Additionally, a decision had to be made regarding the configuration of the angled side...it could be set up where the rear plate would be square to the base when at rest...

Or it could be set up where the foot assembly is angled to the base plate when at rest...and then the rear plate is square to the base when the foot plate is parallel to the base plate

...decided to make one of each for assesment.


Front leg

milled blank of oak was laid out to create two front legs at once...centered hole...this hole was 2" diameter...made at drill press with a Forstner bit.

The angle on the front leg was made at 10 degrees...this was sliced off at the MFT3.
Then the blank for two units was cut at the chop saw.
FInished front leg.

Rear Legs

A template was made in 1/4 inch MDF for the rear outrigger feet.

After milling the bevel at the chop saw and the cutting out the notch at the bandsaw, the template was laid on the 7/8 inch thick oak and the center of the hole was marked.

At the last minute I switched to a 3/4 inch dowel for a better grip.

Drilled 3/4 inch x 1/2 inch deep holes with a Forstner bit.


Laid a 3/4 oak dowel into the holes...no glue...and attached the rear legs to the base with glue and clamps...nailed off with 18g 1.45" brads.


...attached th efront leg to the base with glue and clamps...nailed off with 18g 1.45" brads.
Base assembly with attached foot assembly...
Hardware Installs

For prototypes...used some old well made steel hinges.

Cleaned them up with wirewheel.

Hinge is two inches...theywill be secured with #8 x 3/8 Phillips drive screws.

The hardware for the adjustable stop is a leg leveling device.

The shaft of the threaded rod is 3/8 inch.

The T-nut inner shaft fits into a 7/16 hole.

I will have to determine the angle, location, etc of the stop block.

I took a crash test dummy block cut at 45 degrees.

Drilled a 7/16 inch hole.

Finished CDT block...

Inserted the T-nut and the adjustable stop.

This Proto3-a rear plate is square to the base plate when the foot plate is level.

So, I squared up the rear plate and moved the stop block around until I liked the way the face plate met the rear plate.

I will design a stop block to duplicate this angle.

I will need to make the drilling simpler...I will drill the hole in a square block and remove the faces afterward.

After figuring the angle, figured out how to make the drilling easier...I drilled a 7/16 inch hole in a block...it was drilled at the press at 90°.
Then I angled the block to 15° at the chop saw.


Located the spot for the stop block...glued with clamps and later added screws from underneath.


Took a piece of the rebated trim...eased the ends by 15° and then attached the piece to the rear of the foot plate with glue and clamps plus 23g pins.
The finished Proto3a.

Differences of Proto3b...

Used different plywood...a variation in the thickness caused me to have to adjust the rebates with a shoulder plane.

The plywood was about a 1/32 inch thicker...so it sat out proud of the trim...had to deepen the reabate so that the trim was proud of the plywood.


Front view: Proto3a (on the left) is slightly wider...
Proto3a has the angle set that makes the rear plate of the foot assembly square to the base plate when the foot plate is elevated and horizontal.



Proto3b has the angle set that makes the rear plate square to the base plate when the foot plate assembly is down...

This required a change in the design of the stop block...still used 15 degree setup but the block had to be a little taller.


Rear view...Proto3a is on the right.


Also tried some variation in the heel stops...

Prototype Tests



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