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Do-It-Yourself Folding Stool

Build these DIY-friendly stools your kids can help decorate in fun colors and patterns. A cordless drill and a sewing machine make easy work of these simple kid-sized seats.

Folding stools

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1 weekend

Estimated Cost


Tools and Materials

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

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Build the Frames

Step 1

To build a pair of stools, cut eight lengths of 1-in x 2-in pine for the legs (A) and eight lengths of 3/4-in poplar dowel for the short stool stretchers (B) and the long stool stretchers (C), (Cutting List & Diagram) and (Drawing 1, Project Diagram). Cut a 45-degree angle on one end of each leg.

Step 2

  Drill the pivot hole

Lay out the location of the 1/4-in hole and 3/4-in holes on half of the legs. Stack a pair of legs on a scrap block with the edges and ends aligned and drill the 1/4-in hole through both legs (Photo 1).

Step 3

  Drill the dowel holes

Slip a carriage bolt into the 1/4-in hole to align the parts and drill the 3/4-in holes for the dowels (Photo 2). Repeat this for the remaining three pairs of legs.

Step 4

Sand the legs with 120-grit sandpaper and smooth the top corner and the tip of the bottom part of the leg.

Step 5

Assemble the stool

Assemble, but don't glue, a pair of legs with a pair of short leg dowels. Drill pilot holes and drive screws through the legs into the dowels to secure the legs. (Drawing 2, Project Diagram) and (Photo 3). Repeat for the remaining leg assembly using the long dowels. 

Step 6

Slip the leg assembly that has the shorter dowels into the assembly with the longer dowels and secure them together using 1/4-in bolts, nuts, and washers.

Step 7

Remove the bolts and paint the stool components. Apply primer and two coats of paint in your choice of color. The stools shown are painted white.

Sew the Seats and Paint

Step 1

Cut two pieces of canvas to 12-1/2-in x 19-3/4-in (Drawing 3, Project Diagram) for the seats.

Step 2

Paint a fun pattern on the canvas -- stripes, polka dots, checkers -- and let dry.

Step 3

Make a 1/2-in fold along the long edges of each panel and press with an iron. Fold the 1/2-in seam once again and iron. Stitch the seam to reinforce the sides of the canvas.

Step 4

At the short edges make a 1/2-in fold on each end. Then fold the fabric again 1-3/8-in in from the fold.

Step 5

Press the seam flat and stitch the ends. This creates an opening to slip over the dowels on the stools.

Step 6

Reassemble the stools by slipping the canvas over the top dowels of the painted leg assemblies and reinstalling the legs, screw, bolts, and hardware.