How to Build a Stool

Three Methods:Step StoolThree-Legged StoolConcrete Bar Stool

There are all kinds of stools you can build, ranging from step-stools to bar stools. What they all have in common is that they have legs and a seat. It is often chosen as a first-time project by a beginning woodworker due to the simplicity of the basic stool and the minimal amount of woodworking tools needed.

Method 1
Step Stool

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    Cut your pieces. Cut an 18" piece of 1x12, two 12" pieces of 1x12, and then split (lengthwise) a final piece of 16.5" long 1x12 into three, long, equal pieces.
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    Attach the legs to the seat. Glue the 12" piece to the 18" piece to create the legs, keeping the long side of the 12" pieces flush with the edges of the 18" piece. Drill pilot holes and then use 2" decking screws to drill through the top of the 18" piece and into the sides of the 12" pieces.
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    Attach the brace bars. Glue and then fit two of the 16.5" pieces halfway along the 12" pieces and then use pilot holes and 2" decking screws to secure these in place as well.
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    Sand the step stool. Sand the whole stool once the glue has set to prepare it for painting and give the edges a finishing look.
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    Add finishing touches. Paint the stool or use a stain, depending on the look you want. You can also do things like add rubber runners along the bottom of the feet to keep them from sliding around.
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    Done! Enjoy your new stool!

Method 2
Three-Legged Stool

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    Cut out a seat. Trace out a circle on 2" plywood and then cut it out with a jigsaw. A diameter of 12" is recommended.
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    Cut the legs. Trim three 2" diameter dowels rods to the height you want for your stool. More than 20" is not recommended for this particular design.
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    Drill the leg holes. Using a compass, draw a circle on the underside of your seat that is 9" across and centered. Divide the perimeter of the circle into thirds. Then drill 1 3/4" holes into the seat at an angle. The easiest way to do this is to place a 1" block underneath half of the seat so that it sits at an angle and then drill straight down.
    • Adjust the height of the block to change the angle the legs will be at. Experimenting before making this stool is a good idea.
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    Insert the legs. Use a shaver, sandpaper, a router or other tool of your choice to trim the top 3" of the dowel down to 1.5" wide. Then, glue and insert them into the holes. Trim and sand down the pieces which stick above the surface of the seat until the top of the seat is flat and ready for sitting on.
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    Add finishing touches. You can paint or stain your stool if you want to. Otherwise, it's ready for use!

Method 3
Concrete Bar Stool

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    Gather your materials. You'll need a 12" concrete forming tube (about 2' high, usually sold in 4' lengths), quick set concrete, four 2" diameter dowels or four 2x2s cut to the height that you want your stool, duct tape, sandpaper, and dye if you want your concrete a different color.
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    Tape off your tube. Use the duct tape to completely cover one end of your 2' tube. Make sure it is very secure and that there aren't any holes. Spray the tape and sides with cooking spray to keep the concrete from sticking.
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    Mix and pour in your concrete. Mix and pour enough concrete to fill the tube to the halfway point. The dye, if you've decided to use some, should be mixed in when mixing the concrete.
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    Tap and shake to remove bubbles. Tap and shake the tube side to side to release bubbles trapped in the concrete.
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    Add in the legs. Add the legs into the tube and set them at the angle that you want. You may be able to rest them on the edge of the bucket or you might have to tie a string around them to keep them at the angle and placement you want. The ends at the bottom of the tube should not, however, be at the edge. They should be at least 1-2" inwards from the edge.
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    Let the concrete set. Let the concrete set according to the manufacturer's instructions. This is usually at least 2 hrs for this thickness.
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    Remove the tube. Once the concrete has set, you can cut away the tube and remove any tape that might be left over.
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    Add finishing touches. You'll probably want to angle or round out the ends of the legs. You can also make the seat itself wider by gluing on a larger garden stone as a seat. Painting and staining the legs is another great finishing touch.


  • You can modify this design for height by lengthening the legs from 12 to 24 inches (35 to 70 cm) in length, all from the same board.
  • Dimensional wood, available at most home improvement stores and lumber yards, will be 1/4 inch (6.35 mm) less than the stated thickness and 1/2 inch (12.7 mm) less than the stated width.
  • For a more decorative look, cut a design such as a "V" notch in the center of the leg or a slight arch in the bottom of the stretcher using a jigsaw.
  • There are many free plans available for stools, should you not feel comfortable drawing a stool by yourself.
  • Countersinking is the method of screwing a screw head below the surface so that it can be easily be covered up using wood putty or a wooden plug glued over it. It must also be cut flush with the surface. This can be accomplished by either using a pilot screw with a special adjustable cutting head bit that enlarges the opening of the pilot hole. Use a hand tool that resembles a screwdriver but has a cutting edge like an awl. The woodworker uses it to open up the pilot hole opening, allowing the screw head to be driven below the surface of the wood. Both of these are available at woodworker supply stores.


  • Always wear eye and hearing protection while operating electric saws.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood glue
  • 2 inch (5.4 cm) deck screw
  • 1/32 inch (15.88 mm) drill bit
  • Electric or cordless screw drill/driver
  • Phillips screwdriver bit
  • Countersink bit
  • Circular saw
  • Table saw
  • jigsaw
  • Band saw
  • Plans
  • Safety glasses
  • Stain or paint

Article Info

Categories: Furniture and Cabinets