Reinforcing a Stool

So a while ago I bought a sledgehammer.. I didn't really have a reason for buying it; I just thought it would be cool to have (and it is.) I have since discovered a possible use for it: smashing shit. Of course, before anything can be smashed, one needs a place upon which to smash. Most furniture these days isn't sturdy enough to be sending a 20lb sledge onto the surface, and I didn't want to do it on the floor, as that makes it hard to get a good angle with the hammer.

Being the handy kind of guy that I am, I decided to make something for myself that fit the bill. I started off by buying this lovely naugahyde bar stool at the goodwill for $3.

Ugly stool

Step one was to remove that nasty seat cover off of there. I was quite surprised to find a pretty nicely finished piece of wood underneath there; makes me wonder why they went to the trouble of putting a laminate on the wood when it was just going to be covered with some snasty fake leather crap.

Less ugly stool

These are the materials I'll be using to reinforce the stool so that it will be able to stand up to the titanic forces associated with my sledgehammer. There's also some piece of plywood that I used but forgot to get a picture of. Oh well.

Tools of the trade

Step 1: attach the first pipe foot to the bottom of the stool's seat. In hindsight, I probably should have attached this after I'd assembled all the pipes; there was a huge amount of torque infliced upon this join while I was screwing everything together and it nearly came detatched. I ended up undoing it and re-attaching it later.

Foot attached

Next I put all the pipe on. This was a realy pain in the butt. That stuff does NOT want to go on there. The fact that there were little metal burrs and some kind of sealant crap clogging up all the threads didn't help anything. If I ever work with threaded black iron pipe again, I am going to make sure I get some advice from the guys at the hardware store to see if there's any trick I can use to put this stuff together more easily.

Pipe attached

Once all the pipe was in, I attached a base piece of wood to the bottom pipe foot.

Wood base

Oops! The pipe is just a weence too long. The feet of the stool don't quite touch the plywood base. I tried to undo the pipe pieces to put a shorter piece in there so things would fit, but after I put all that muscle in to get everything together, there was no way to get it back apart.


I improvised by getting the thinnest piece of plywood I could find and cutting small squares of it. I doubled them up and jammed them in between the stool's legs and the plywood base. Two screws to each corner held the shim onto the base, and then one longer screw attached each leg to the base as a whole. This construction was very sturdy, once I was done.

Bolted on

The next step is to test it out by bashing it a little bit. Fun! Unfortunately, in spending as much time as I did worrying about the structural stability of the stool as a whole, I forgot to reinforce the basic weakness of the particleboard that was making up the seat. Thus, my first hit with the sledgehammer made a big ol' hole in the wood.

Oops!  (redux)

It also made a big ugly crack in the underside. I'm lucky the whole thing didn't just fall into pieces.

This was a pretty bad mistake

Time for more improvisation! I headed out to the hardware store and got some metal tie plates to help to hold things together. I used some smaller plates to patch up the bottom. I also used some wood glue to try to repair some of the damage to the wood.

Holding things together

And I put some larger plates at the top. This thing is pretty indestructible now.

Replacing the top with metal

All that's left is to try it out. This isn't the best quality video -- we just recorded really quick, no tripod or real setup, so it is kind of shaky and crappy. But it's fun to watch in the loop!


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