Introduction: IKEA Stool Hack
This is a $5 stool that we bought at Ikea quite some time ago, they still sell them last I checked. Originally we bought it for our kids but they never really used them. I started using this stool as a small desk stool and decided that it needed an upgrade. I wanted it too look a little nicer. So I came up with a design and I knew that I wanted to use wood and metal. I remembered I had a scrap piece of a table leaf extension that was sitting in my garage, I almost threw this piece in the trash but since it was oak so I kept it. It was a good 1 inch thick piece which is what I thought would look good considering the dimensions of the stool. Now let me walk you through my process.
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First step was to take apart the stool which is really simple just a few screws and it comes apart. Remember to save the hardware.
This is a scrap piece of a table. It was an extension to make the table larger. Its about an inch thick and made of oak. The first thing I did was try and find the center of it or rather try to find a spot to maximize the circle I will be cutting out of it. After some trial and error I found the spot that would allow me to cut out the largest circle from this piece of wood. I drew the circle using my compass.
If you don't have a compass you can also use a nail and string tied to a pencil to draw the circle.
If you don't have a scrap piece of wood for this you can purchase a 12 inch wood round from the big box store for about $10. This will save you a lot of work as well.
I used a jigsaw to cut out the circle. The jigsaw leaves a pretty rough cut so I sanded the entire circle smooth up to 220 grit with my random orbit sander.
This moon shaped cutoff will become the backrest. I wanted the same radius as the seat for the back rest so I used the seat to trace the curve on to the scrap wood. It was about an inch wide, I say "about" because my measurements are perfect.
If you don't have scrap you can use a piece of 2x4 for the back rest instead.
I used my band saw to cut out the first piece for the back rest. I use this piece as a template to cut out a second piece this way the curves match up a little better. I originally planned to cut just two pieces but ended up going with three instead as I thought this looked better, you'll see this in the next step.
Here are the three pieces I mentioned in the previous step, next I glued them up. I applied glue to all the surfaces and clamped them tight. I let them dry over night.
After the glue dried I used my belt sander to refine the shape. Here I am just trying to get rid of excess material and glue squeeze out.
I used my trim saw to cut off the excess wood I don't have an exact measurement I just went with what looked about right. Then it was back to the belt sander for more clean up and rounding over of all the edges. I handed sanded the piece up to 220 grit after shaping it.
This is a piece of 1/8 inch thick by 1 inch wide flat stock mild steel that I had left over from a previous project. I cut it to 11-1/4 inches long. After cutting it I used a file to remove the burrs and round over all the corners.
I marked the location of the two screw holes. I center punched the holes and drilled two holes for the backrest. I drill another three holes on the opposite end of the flat stock for the seat, you will see these holes in a later step.
Next it was time to bend the flat stock. I secured it in my vise, the bend was made at the 7 inch mark. I bent the steel by hand, if you have a cheater bar use that to bend the steel or if you have a torch heat the steel and then bend it. I was shooting for a 90 degree bend or something close to that angle.
Next I find the center of the backrest. To do this on the curved surface I ran a piece of tape from one side of the back rest to the other then removed the tape and folded it in half, this gave me my approximate center. Then I used my newly made angle bracket to mark the location of the holes and then pre-drilled the screw holes.
I chose Dark Walnut Danish Tung Oil as the finish. I applied 5 coats per the instructions on the can to both the back rest and the seat.
Now it was time to reassemble the stool. I predrilled the center screw hole and attached the legs with a screw.
I needed longer screws for the legs, the first picture shows the smaller original screws versus the longer screws. I predrilled all the screw holes and then attached the legs reusing the plastic hardware that came with the stool.
Now it was time to attach the angle bracket to the seat, here you see the three holes I drilled in the steel, that I had mentioned in a previous step. I use the angle bracket as a template to pre-drill the holes in the seat. Then I attached the bracket to the seat with some 3/4 inch screws.
I had already pre-drilled the holes in the backrest so now it was just a matter of screwing the backrest to the angle bracket.
Here are a few different angles of the stool. I really like the way this turned out. Its a simple upgrade to an inexpensive stool. I chose to leave the metal bare as that's what I prefer but if you like you can paint it to match the legs or if you like you can remove the paint from the legs and stick to the bare metal look. I think this might also look good if you used stacked plywood instead of solid wood. I hope you enjoyed this write up and hopefully found it helpful.
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