Saturday Morning Workshop: How To Build A Folding Stool

Build a few of these small folding stools in an afternoon, and take them out camping or to sit around the fire pit in the evening!

Next Project

A few hours






All practicality aside, this small folding wooden stool is as irresistible as a wooden puzzle. You’ll love the way the stool unfolds—the two halves of the seat glide together as the legs slide apart below. In order for the wooden stool to work smoothly, you’ll have to be precise when you shape the parts and drill the dowel holes. And the best way to ensure precision is to use jigs. The assembly jigs are cut from pieces of scrap plywood or particleboard (see Cutting List). If you want to make more than one stool, you’ll save a lot of time by using the jigs. Figure three hours to build your first one, and about one hour more for each additional stool. We made our stool from pine because it’s light and strong, but almost any wood will work. Your wood must be exactly 3/4-in. thick. If not, the stool won’t work using the dimensions we’ve given in the Cutting List. Putting all these parts together may appear a bit confusing, but taken one step at a time, it’s really pretty easy. The folding stool consists of two main assemblies, an outside half and an inside half. Keep the tech art close by to accurately figure out where everything is fastened to and where the nails need to go.

Tools Required

  • Clamps
  • Drill/driver
  • Jigsaw
  • Miter saw
  • Table saw

Materials Required

  • 1-1/4-in. trim-head screws
  • 1/2" dia. X 18" hardwood dowel
  • 1x2 board
  • 1x3
  • Painter's tape

Click here for the plans to an actual wooden puzzle that will mystify your house guests.

Folding Wooden Stool Cutting List

Folding Stool Cutting List

Tech Art

Folding Stool Tech Art

Project step-by-step (7)

Step 1

Crosscut boards to length

Folding Stool Cut boards to size

Follow the Cutting List to cut the lengths of all the boards and dowels with your miter saw. For the folding wooden stool seat slats (A) and braces (C), set a stop along your miter saw table to get consistent cuts. Crosscut the two inner seat slats (E) out of the 1×2 board, using the stop from the previous statement, and then rip them to 1-1/4 in. on the table saw.

Step 2

Round ends into the 1×2 boards

Folding Stool jigsaw

Locate the center of the boards by marking an “X” with a combination square on the faces of the legs (B) and seat supports (D) at the ends of the boards. Gang up two boards at a time with painter’s tape and mark 3/4-in. semi-circles with a compass. Clamp the planks to the work surface and cut the arcs with a jigsaw. With the 1×2 boards still ganged together, clamp the boards to the workbench and drill 1/2-in. holes into the parts. Flip the two boards halfway through the process to reduce blowout. Make sure to double check with the tech art which sides of the boards need a hole. Next, sand the curves. Keeping them ganged together or sticking the dowel through the holes will keep the boards consistent.

Step 3

Create the outer assembly

Folding Stool outer assembly

Align two of the seat supports against the larger assembly jig (H). Clamp the supports to the assembly jig. Fasten two outer seat slats (A) and one inner seat slat (E) to the seat supports by drilling pilot holes fastening with 1-1/2 in. trim head screws.

Step 4

Attach the legs to the outer assembly

Folding Stool attach legs

Remove the assembly jig (H) and align the legs (B) using the 1-1/2 in. dowels. Fasten the dowels by drilling 1-1/4 in. trim head screws into it through the seat support. Finally, measure 3 in. from the other end of the legs and fasten a brace (C) so that the bottom edge is along that 3 in. mark.

Step 5

Create the inner assembly

Folding Stool inner assembly

Align and clamp the last two legs (B) with the other, smaller assembly jig (J) and fasten the other leg brace (C) to the legs 3 in. from the non-drilled ends. Then, feed the handle (F) through the seat supports and legs. Make sure the seat supports are placed such that the seat slats will be on the same side as the leg brace. Drill a 1-1/4 in. trim head screw into the dowel through the legs.

Step 6

Attach the two assemblies together

Folding Stool putting assemblies together

Place the inner assembly into the outer assembly with the outer assembly facing down and feed the other two pivot rods into the leg holes. Fasten them on with a 1-1/4 in. trim head screws to the inner legs.

Step 7

Fasten the last seat slats to the stool

Folding Stool seat slats

Close the inner seat supports and fasten the final seat slats to those supports with pilot holes and screws. Then build another small folding stool!

Folding Stool LeadFamily Handyman