Thursday, June 25, 2009

How To Make a Footstool out of Something Else

I have a chair that is too high to sit comfortably in and decided it needed a footstool. I mean, what good is a chair really when it's uncomfortable? We went to the Goodwill Thrift Store near our house and I scouted the possibilities. The first thing that caught my eye was a small wooden step stool. I actually thought it was a sound choice and then this ugly vanity bench caught my eye:
It was $5. The legs were wobbly, but on close inspection I could see that it was just because the screws were loose. An easy fix. I could also see that the seat was attached to the base with 8 screws, so I knew it would be easy to remove. Or so I thought.

The very first step in this project is to decide on a finished height for your footstool. I decided on the height of the footstool by measuring an old duraflame box that I used to test for height comfort. I then turned the whole thing over and measured from the floor up. I marked one leg with masking tape. I then removed the legs to take down to my neighbors house. I measured the leg from the top to the tape and it was close enough to 6 inches that I picked that number because it was a nice solid round number. I carried two in each hand and as I marched down the hill, I imagined that if any of the other neighbors saw me they would yell out to their family, "Look! The crazy shy lady has come out of her house and it looks like she is about to start juggling!" Xup asked on the last post how I got the legs even and to be honest it never occured to me as I would be using the stool on carpet. So I just now placed the stool on the hardwood part of the floor and it does have a teeny tiny rock to it, but I imagne that would be evened out by thick felt pads, much like how the carpet does it. So in the future when we get our nice bamboo floors to replace this carpet, I will use the felt pads, which I actually already have. So anyway, Carole's husband cut off the legs for me in just minutes because he has the stuff. I suppose, if I had had to, I could have done it with a hand saw. If you have to do it with a hand saw invest in a miter box. You can get a simple one at Lowe's for 5 to 16 dollars or buy the fancy one with the clamp for $45. That way you will get a nice straight cut. I have a miter box, but I also have cool neighbors with a table saw. Thanks Carole! Thanks Carole's husband!

Back to the base: the 8 screws popped right out with my handy electric drill:

Unfortunately after I removed the 8 screws, nothing happened. That's when I realised they had glued the base to the seat. I got a pry bar and a rubber mallet, but all I did was put a giant bruise on my leg. Plus I was afraid I would break the wood. I pondered on this for a while. I came up with the idea to use a giant semi-serrated butcher knife to saw out the glue. After a long talk with myself about knives and safety, I found a place to slip the knife between the seat and base and began a slow and careful sawing. I eventually got it off and was left with these parts:

As you can see, there were a million staples holding the cloth to the seat and there was a bunch of cloth still stuck to the base. This part was the hardest part of the project. To get all that junk off the base was very tedious and I used needle-nosed pliers to grip the little pieces stuck after ripping the main stuff off. For the staples on the seat, I used a hammer and a tiny screwdriver to chisel under each staple and then the needle-nosed pliers to pull them out. That was a bitch:

After those two fun things, my hands were so sore, I took a few days off of the project. See that little yellow part sticking out in the bottom right corner?:

That was the original cushion foam and it was in good shape so I was able to reuse that. You can also see in that photo above that they applied their fabric right over the seat board and foam. Well that's wrong. For a true professional look, you want to use batting under your cloth. Carole, my always helpful neighbor, told me she had an old roll of batting that I could have. I did have some batting left over from another project (which gets so many internet hits I'm not going to mention here so that people won't come here instead of the actual post) but the piece of batting I had was not quite as large as I would have liked so I decided to use Carole's. Thanks Carole!

Meanwhile, since I did not have the energy or inclination to fully sand and strip and stain the base, I bought some paint that was as close as possible to the color of the woodstains in my living room and painted the base:

I took that photo after the first coat, but I ended up doing three coats. It's a small project so that hardly took any time at all. Then I took a pencil and drew lines between the screw holes of the seat board, so that I could keep track of where they were after I covered them with the batting. And then I applied the batting.:

If you have not done anything like this before, always put your first staple in the center of the long side. Then pull and do the same across, then on each end. Then pull and fold your corners. I used just eight staples on the batting and eight on the fabric. Why did the original manufacturer have to use 900 staples?!? I mean you're going to have screws going through it after that! Why all the staples? Sorry, but my hand is still sore from pulling all those stupid staples out.
Okay, then I applied the fabric, which I already had and as a matter of fact I made my two couch pillows from years ago. It's a nice thick tapestry which I found on clearance a long time ago and bought the whole roll. Always take advantage of stuff like that because you never know what you might think to do with it years later. I certainly wasn't thinking "footstool!" when I bought that fabric. And I still have plenty left.
After applying the fabric, I used an awl to search out the screw holes using my pencil lines as a guide. As I found each hole, I inserted a toothpick:
I then placed the base over the toothpicks. I then replaced the toothpicks with the original screws one at a time. Start with one screw to each side and screw them in manually to start. Then I used my drill to really push and tighten each screw down through the fabric and batting. Then I flipped it over and I had a footstool:

Yay! I really love it and have used it every night. Unfortunately, I also ended up with this on my library floor:

I should probably go in there and take care of that


Daryl said...

You are such a pro at this .. me? I would have gotten the top off, seen the gazillion staples and just re-covered the existing stuff .. lazy and sloppy = me

geewits said...

~~You crack me up! I was certainly daunted by the staples, but I am one stubborn broad.

Jazz said...

Ooooh. Loverly. I think you should come to my place and fix everything that needs fixing. Yep. You should.

Mr. Jazz said...

Damn staples! But you prevailed and did a great job! You post-footstool beers were well deserved ;-)

Scarlet said...

Now I know why you took a few days off, but after looking at the staples...I'm with Daryl! :)

You make it sounds/look so simple though. One of these days I'm going to get crafty and stubborn and try something like this!

It really is beautiful...and useful!

Gnightgirl said...

I love it! I love you say you're going to do something, and then you do it! Most of us, you know...would have had that former pink and white thing hanging around in our garage 5 years later.

Carole said...

Great tutorial. I especially liked the toothpick idea. Ingenious! That's a whole lotta staples! That's Italian for "whole lotta". hee hee

And you are very welcome from me and husband. Glad we could help!

Jammie J. said...

that was a very interesting read and enjoyed the pictures. i think for me the staple removing thing would have turned into an "I'm not stopping now just because I'm tired..." type of thing. Others might call it a challenge. hee hee

I love the fabric you got years ago. It's really lovely.

You're a very talented lady. :)

geewits said...

~~I could follow in the footsteps of my great-grandfather, who came to the U.S. as an indentured servant. You could pay my passage and I could perform labor for you.

Mr. Jazz,
~~post? post? I was drinking beer the whole time.

~~You'd be a natural. My friend the artist is also crafty.

~~That's not all bad. Sometimes I sense potential but don't see it right away. I had saved that old shower caddy for several years before I thought to make the Halloween ghoul out of it.

~~I came up with the toothpick idea on some other project, but on that other project a toothpick did break off in the hole, so you have to be careful.

~~I wasn't tired. The arthritis in my thumb was especially inflamed. I had to stop.

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.