Play Stool

Sturdy stools for a variety of uses. My children love the stools I made. They use them as trains, boats and doll chairs (when turned on their sides). I’ve built 8 and even that does not seem like enough. This is my easiest project. Dimensions: 12″h 12″w 12″d

Tools & Supplies Needed:

  • Drill – either an electric drill or hand drill will work nicely
  • Screwdriver – phillips for deck screws
  • Band saw, scroll saw or jig saw
  • Carpenters Square or Adjustable Square
  • Sandpaper in the following grits 60, 100 and 150.
  • Hand sanding block
  • Wood glue
  • (8) 1 5/8 inch drywall or deck screws
  • (6) 2 1/2 inch deck screws
  • Goggles, ear protection, dust mask.
  • Oil Finish or Polyurethane *see section on Finishes
  • Download and print these Dawings:


  • (2) 12 1/8 inch pieces of a 2 x 12 board (sides)
  • (1) 9 1/8 inch piece of a 2 x 6 board (center brace)
  • (2) 12 1/8 inch pieces of a 1 x 6 board (tops)

Optional tools:

  • Pilot hole bit for drill
  • Phillips screwdriver bit for drill
  • Belt sander (bench type)

Before You Begin

Be sure you understand how to operate your power tools. Read the manual(s) that were included with them. You should NOT work with out proper eye protection, ear protection and a dust mask. Since I don�t know what tools you have, or the quality of materials you are able to purchase, you will have to use these plans and your finished stools at your own risk. If you feel uncomfortable with power tools or are not comfortable with the safety of your finished product, do not do this project.

Selecting Wood

Your wood should be chosen carefully. While knots may add character to a project, warps and gouges do not. Inspect all sides of your wood. Make sure that the wood does not bend, twist or cup. The time honored method of sighting down a length of wood is still the best to gauge it�s straightness. No wood is perfect. You may have to select an imperfect board with a good section. If you have it cut at the store, you may even be able to purchase just the section you want.
Wood is a living thing. Even after it is cut, your wood will change. I�ve had wood develop warps on the trip home from the store. Wood may bend, twist or cup after it is cut. You should use your wood as soon as you can. If you have to leave it after it is cut, do not store it at an angle. Lie it flat on the floor, or make sure it is vertical.


All dimensions in the text of this project have a 1/8th inch sanding allowance. You will sand off about this much (1/16 from each side). The drawings show finished sizes!
Most saws cut a 1/16 to 1/8 inch gap in the wood. You will need to make sure you cut on the waste (side you are not going to keep) side you of the line you have drawn. Otherwise you will be cutting your sanding allowance away. When measuring, measure one piece, cut it and then measure the next, again, because of you don�t know exactly how wide the saw gap is.
Cut (2) 12 1/8 inch pieces from a 1×6 board. These will be the tops. Cut one 9 1/8 inch piece from a 2×6 board. This will be the center brace. Cut (2) 12 1/8 pieces from a 2×12 board. These are the sides. The best tool for this job is a radial arm saw. If you don�t have one (I don�t) have the wood cut where you purchase it. Many of the larger outlet stores like Home Depot have these saws right inside and charge a minimal amount per cut.

You will need a jig or band saw for the bottom edge of the sides. First, turn the side so the grain is horizontal. Make a mark 1 1/2 inches from each side, on the bottom edge, then draw a line that is 1 inch from the bottom, between these two marks. Find something round, 2 to 3 1/2 inches in diameter. Lie the round thing so one edge touches the first mark and another touches the line between the marks. Trace the edge. Move to the other mark and repeat the procedure. Repeat everything on the other side piece. Cut out the bottoms.

Mark Lines

Mark Curves



Things that are important when sanding:

1. Use the appropriate grit

2. Change your sand paper often

3. Sand with the grain.
Start with the 60 grit. Use this to shape the wood, remove imperfections and mistakes from cutting (that�s why even the experts add an 1/8 inch sanding allowance).
Do NOT round the following edges: The top edges of the side pieces (this is where the tops attach). The bottom edges of the tops, where the tops attach to the sides. The edge of the center brace that you had cut (this is where it attaches to the sides).
Round the edges marked in yellow, paying special attention to the edges of the tops, make these as round as you can. Make sure you round off the corner points of the tops.

Top of Top Bottom of Top

Front of Center Brace Back of Center Brace

Front of Side Back of Side

Once the wood looks the way you want it, switch to 100 grit sand paper and smooth it out. If you find that the sandpaper �glides� over the wood very smoothly, you need a new sheet of sand paper. You can switch to 150 grit when you have removed the cuts and gouges left by the 60 grit.
Pine is a soft wood, which makes it difficult to get it as smooth as a hard wood like maple. Your pieces will have pine �fuzzies�, which look like sanding dust, but are stuck to the wood. Don�t worry. If you are applying an oil finish, they will disappear. With Polyurethane, you will have to sand between coats to remove them.


Mark 3/4 inch from each side of each corner on the two top pieces (on the top side). Mark 3 1/4, 4 1/2 and 6 3/4 from the top of each side, in the center (6 inches from a side) on each side piece (on the side which will be the outside).
Use the pilot hole bit or a drill bit that will almost allow the screws to be pushed through the wood, drill at the intersections of the marks (see drawing).


Smooth the holes you just drilled. Also, remove any extra pencil marks left.


Drive the 2 1/2 inch screws through the holes on each side piece until the points almost come out. Stand the center brace on the small side. Apply glue to the small side (on top). Set the side piece on top of the center brace (forming a T with the center brace) so the screws from the side piece are centered. Drive in the screws. Flip this section over. Apply glue to the other small side of the center brace. Center the other side piece, making sure that center brace is the same distance from the top edge as the side piece already attached. Drive in only one (1) screw! Set the completed section on it�s feet in the center of a flat table or work bench (floors may not be level). Gently twist the side with only one screw until all 4 feet touch. Drive in the final screws.
After the glue begins to set (1/2 to one hour) drive 1 5/8 inch screws into the top pieces until the points almost come out. Apply glue to bottom of the short edge, place the tops and drive the screws.
Excess glue can be removed with a damp cloth. Try not to soak the wood or smear the glue. It is better to sand off a dry bead of glue than sand off a dry glue smear. Dry beads of glue can also be removed (carefully!) with a sharp chisel.


  • See Finishes for tips on oil and polyurethane finishes.

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A computer geek with a taste for sustainable living, organic food, green products, buying local, woodworking, bicycling, running, yoga, recycling and doing-it-yourself.