Folding Tripod Camp Stool

You’ll need some tools:
  • Sander
  • Center-finder (optional, but helps)
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Small socket wrench to fit acorn nuts
  • Rags
  • Knife
You’ll need a few materials:
  • Three 1 1/8” Birch hardwood dowels - enough for three 24” pieces
  • One steel 2.75” bolt - UPDATED, the brass is too soft for structural stress
  • One 1.5” eyehole bolt
  • Two brass acorn nuts
  • Three brass washers
  • Three brass finishing washers
  • Three brass 1” wood screws (big enough not to slip through the finishing washer)
  • Finish - I used Osmo PolyX-Oil
  • Leather or other heavy material for seat

In honor of this month’s Design*Sponge theme of the outdoors, how about we build an old-fashioned camping stool? First of all, have you seen modern folding tripod stools? They are ugly as sin and your grandpa would be ASHAMED if you bought one. With the help of some hefty dowels, a little hardware and a piece of leather or heavy canvas – you’ll be sitting by the campfire in style. Also, the materials will only set you back about $25.

In addition, I’ve got to give proper respect to the super creative Kate Pruitt at Design*Sponge for sparking this idea… It’s great to work with her and the D*S crew.


1. Start by cutting your dowels to 24” or closest to that. I bought two 48” dowels, so each leg is about 23 7/8 after the saw blade’s share. Drill a hole completely through each one, 10.5” from the top of each leg. Find the center of each leg’s top, and drill a small pilot hole for your seat mounting screws. You’ll need this pilot hole to prevent your legs from splitting. Sand each of the legs smooth, and a little around the edge of the tops, and a good amount on each bottom to round it out more. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just make sure you don’t shorten any leg with too much rounding.

2. After the legs are cut, drilled and sanded, apply your choice of finish and set aside to dry. As they are drying, you can work on the seat material. I’m including a downloadable template for you to create your seat with. I chose leather because I have plenty of it around, but you could sew up a heavy canvas seat or any number of materials. Make sure it’s heavy and sufficiently reinforced since there will be a good amount of stress on each corner.

On one corner of the seat, I left a tab for the carry strap, but this is optional. Mine’s attached to a closure strap, which I recommend having regardless of a carry strap. It’ll keep your stool from popping open in storage or carrying. I edged my leather pieces and treated the smooth surfaces with carnauba wax.

3. Once the legs are dry, assemble the structure assembly by threading two of the legs together with the bolt, with the eyehole bolt in the middle. Use washers on both ends, and attach the acorn nut. I actually cut my bolt down a little bit with a hacksaw, so it fit close. You’ll need a little play in the assembly to move, but it shouldn’t be gaping. Once those two legs are secure, feed the eyehole bolt (which I cut down a little too) into the third leg and attach with a washer and acorn nut. Tighten both acorns securely with a socket wrench.

4. After the base is complete, attach your seat to each leg using a large finishing washer and the wood screw. Don’t over-tighten and strip out your holes, for you’ll need all the strength on these mounting points. After everything is secure, you can take a seat. The main bolt might bend a little to the stress, but that’s fine, it keep its bend permanently and that shape will aid in the folding-up state. Now you’re ready for your next campfire sitting in distinguished comfort.

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Salt Cellar Project

You’ll need some tools:
  • A belt sander with heavy grit paper
  • Orbital or palm sander with finer grit paper
  • Drill press and forstner bit
  • OSMO finish
  • Soft cloths
You’ll need a few materials:
  • Block of wood –I used walnut
  • Glass vessels –

My latest DIY for Design*Sponge just went live, so I wanted to share with you here as well. I was hesitant to embrace their May theme of flowers, but after some thought, I started thinking… What would I make my Mom for Mother’s Day in a kind of “middle-school shop class” style?

I’ve had some interesting apothecary-type glass bottles laying around from an impulse purchase at American Science and Surplus, and some rough Walnut stashed in the shop. What if I use them both to make a small flower vessel centerpiece? Maybe I add a little salt cellar to it as well? This project goes much easier if you have the right tools, but could be accomplished with lesser machinery with some modifications.

From my rough of Walnut, I cut a piece off and started some rough sanding on the belt sander. You can use a palm sander, but it’s certainly going to take longer. I started out in a conventional shape, but decided to experiment with some facets and angles… just free-form sanding, but making sure my surfaces are all flat. You have lots of ways to experiment here – all square edges, angles, facets, live edges, bark edges… you can pretty much try anything. Rough sand with a heavy grit (60-80) to get the general shape you want.

From there, I mounted the block on the lathe to cut a cellar out of it. I know lathes aren’t readily available in most homes, but you can carve this with hand tools, or even just drill out a surface. Maybe drill out a surface for a ceramic salt cellar to be placed in it? If you’re turning on the lathe, make sure you do it a the slowest possible speed. Since the carving is not centered, it’s going to wobble for sure.

Once having the cellar shape cut and sanded on the lathe, I used my drill press and a forstner bit to cut the vessel holes. Measure your vessel and cut a hole just slightly larger. Decide how deep or high you want them sitting… and you could even angle them in for an interesting look. Please be careful if you’re using a hand-held drill and a forstner bit… they usually get unwieldy very quickly.

After all my cuts and holes have been made, It’s time for finish sanding. This is the part I always want to rush, and it pays to relax and go slow. The more sanding you do, the better your surface will feel. I used my orbital sander with grits from 120, 180, 260, and 320. By then, you’re getting wood incredibly smooth, and I further worked the surface with a hand sanding block and 400 grit ultra-fine paper. With that last pass, you’ve got VERY fine dust everywhere, so make sure you either blow it all off with compressed air, or use a tack cloth to clean the wood.

After sanding is complete, you can apply some finish. Since this will be touching something edible, make sure you pick a food-safe product. I have been using OSMO lately and I think it’s great. It’s low VOC and made from vegetable oils and waxes. Apply some OSMO thinly with a soft cloth and follow up with a clean cloth. Then just let it cure for 12 hours. Once cured, you can buff for a little more shine.

Last step – add your favorite finishing salt, and pick a small flower or twig from your yard to complete!


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W&F Project for Design*Sponge

You’ll need some tools:
  • Pocket screw guide
  • Drill
  • Saw
  • Square
  • Sandpaper
  • Rags to apply finish
You’ll need a few materials:
  • #6 carpet or upholstery tacks
  • Strap material, leather or upholstery webbing
  • 2x2 oak for legs
  • 1x2 oak for stringers
  • Pocket screws
  • Danish oil

Just wanted to welcome any new readers visiting from my project post over at Design*Sponge this morning! For those who haven’t seen it, I was kindly asked to create a project for them, and I hope it leads to some more. Thought I’d re-cap things here, but you can see the original post with this link – Matt’s Woven Leather Stool

Measure your leg height and mark the boards with a square. Perfectly square cuts will ensure you don’t create a wobbly bench. I cut mine for a fifteen inch height. Next cut all your stinger boards. To make a rectangular bench, I cut four eighteen inches in length and four at twelve inches.

Next, I drilled all my pocket screw guide holes. You can find an inexpensive pocket guide at most hardware stores. I use a Kreg model. Clamp it to the board and drill all your holes.

After all boards are cut and drilled, sand them to a smooth finish. It’s much easier to sand now than after it’s assembled. Sanding to at least a 220 grit will give you a furniture-grade surface.

Now it’s time to assemble. I cut a couple 3/8 pieces of scrap board to help position the stringers in the center of the leg pieces before attaching. I also used some scraps to uniformly space the lower stringers from the top. Now a complete side can positioned on your work surface before driving all the screws. Assemble both complete ends and then attach the two with your remaining stringer boards.

Now you have your complete frame to apply finish. I love using danish oil because it’s so easy to apply for a beautiful finish. Follow the instructions on the can and make sure it’s completely dry before adding your straps.

I had a bunch of short leather 1 1/2 inch straps from a previous project, so it was the perfect choice for the woven top. Otherwise you can use seatbelt webbing or upholstery straps. Cut your straps long enough to wrap completely around your boards. Using a tack hammer, I attached all the long pieces first and then weaved the remaining ones in and attached one by one. Because the leather straps were such thick material, its necessary to have gaps between them so they can be woven. The thinner your strap material, the closer they can be woven.

I chose to leave the leather natural and used light walnut colored Danish oil -but any number of stains, finishes or waxes can be used to create yours.

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