quick and dirty rustic furniture: stool

a stool!

My mom wanted a stool for gardening, and here it is! Of course, I could have thrown together a squarish one, but where’s the fun in that? This took less than 3 hours anyway, and I cleaned part of my garage while I was at it.

I happen to have a bunch of sticks and tree branches lying around because I used to collect materials like that all the time. Where I live, people leave their tree trimmings and other garden rubbish on the curb for collection on Friday every week. So if you walk around the neighborhood on Thursday night, you can sometimes find some nice branches.

I wanted to do a 3-legged stool so that it would always be stable (3 points define a plane!). To have the legs angle out, I started by miter cutting the legs.

miter saw jig

If you have an electric miter saw, this step is even faster. This particular jig only has discrete angles, I just picked the one that looks about 5-10 deg from 90.


In order to figure out the lengths and position of the leg supports, I mounted the legs to a piece of plywood that served as a template. I sketched a rough position of the legs to be an equilateral triangle. A single screw from the bottom holds each leg in place.

mounted to a template board

I started with only two of the legs attached to the template so that I had clearance for drilling a hole that would hold the support beam. It is great to use the lines drawn on the template to make sure the drill goes in straight.

hole for mounting a support

After drilling two holes, one in each leg, I re-attach the third to the template, and mark the appropriate height for each support.

marking the height of the hole for the other side

Then remove those legs, and drill the necessary holes into the third leg.

again, use the template lines to guide the drill direction

For the spade bit drill size, I just used the closest size to whatever branches I had (in this case 3/4″ and 7/8″). Of course some fitting is still required.

a bit of whittling with a little craft knife

I know that somewhere in the world there is a kind of drill attachment, kind of like a fancy pencil sharpener, that you can use to quickly turn the end of branches into accurate diameter dowels (if you know its name, please tell me!). I bet that would be great to have if you were building a whole set of furniture. For this one, a knife or rasp will do.

Anyhow, continue this fitting process by removing one leg at a time, and attaching to others until all the holes are drilled and the support sticks fit.

screw hole for leg support branch

I decided I would screw the leg supports together. Perhaps it distracts a bit from the look to have the screws exposed like this, but its really fast. Remember to countersink so the leg doesn’t split.

after a little glue and screws

For the top I went with something very quick and easy (although probably not so durable…). Its a solid pine board, really soft and easy to shape. I don’t have a jig saw, so I just cut a polygon with a handsaw. I have been playing around with a little router attachment on my Dremel (I got it a few years ago at the best garage sale find ever, but never had a chance to use it). It has a little chamfer router bit that was perfect for helping to round the corners quickly.

the seat

Of course the legs didn’t line up perfectly. So first, I used some washers as spacers to make the seat board level.

leveling the seat

Then I used a sharpie to mark a level line around each leg. Just make sure the seat sits flat, and that the Sharpie lays flat against the seat board. If the tops of the legs are really off, just use a thicker marker.

marking cut line for a level seat

Finally, I just cut the excess off with a handsaw, trying my best to follow the line.

not perfect, but definitely better than before

After that, just glue and screw down the top.


5 thoughts on “quick and dirty rustic furniture: stool

  1. Pingback: How to Build a Step Stool Carpentry Services / Home Improvements

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