See how I quickly made a stool for my workshop out of 2x2s, and 1x4s, and pocket holes.
I needed a place to sit
I rarely sit while in my shop.
But, while making my Starter Tools video, I needed a place to sit behind my workbench as standing just did not make for a good video frame zoom.
So, I had to build a quick stool out of the materials I already had on hand.
It’s very sturdy and perfectly meets my needs.
Now I have a way to sit at my bench anytime.
Transcript highlights and images are below the video too!
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About the Wood
Dimensional lumber is notorious for not being square and that’s especially true with the smaller dimensions, such as will be used on this project.
Look for 2x2s that are straight, have no twists or warps, and don’t have cracks running through them. The project only calls for 3 sticks at 8’ but get 4, just in case.
You should only need 1 ea 8’ board of 1×4 for this project.
Because dimensional lumber is not square or may be warped, you’ll need to take measurements as you go, as well as checking square often.
The stability of the stool will be directly dependent on the square of the lumber you are using!
It will be wobbly if your wood is twisted or warped, especially with the 2x2s. Ask me how I know! I had to trade out one of the pieces in the project so the stool would be sturdy.
- 2x2s for the legs, rails, and stretchers
- 1x4s for the seat
- 16 2-1/2″ pocket hole screws
- 8 #8 1-3/4″ construction screws, or wood screws
- Your choice of short wood screws or brad nails for the seat (I used brad nails)
Tools & Gear You’ll Need
Hand Tools You’ll Need
Power Tools You’ll Need
Kreg Tools You’ll Need
Safety Gear You’ll Need
Start with the Seat
Layout your 1x4s side by side.
Butt one side of the ends against another board to keep them square.
And then take your final measurements.
Mine were 16.5” x 13.75”.
Measure the Rails
Lay 2 of your 13.5” 2x2s down the sides (top to bottom on left and right).
Measure the distance between them.
It should be 10.5”, but if not, adjust the cut on the stretcher 2x2s as needed.
Lay the stretcher 2x2s to that length and lay them side to side at the top and bottom.
Leave room for the 2×2 legs. Remember that 2x2s are actually 1.5” x 1.5”.
Make Your Rail Pocket Holes
Now that you know everything is correctly measured and cut, you’re ready to make your pocket holes.
If the 2x2s have an ugly side, use that and make one pocket hole in the center of the width on each end.
NOTE: You can use two pocket holes by using the B and C holes on a K4 jig to help ensure the rails don’t spin.
But considering how cracked and such the 2x2s can be, you can get away with using just one pocket hole in the center of the wood.
I centered mine on the B hole of the Kreg Jig.
Set your jig and bit to the 1-1/2″ mark and use 2-1/2″ screws.
Get how-to instructions and tips for using your Kreg Jigs.
Plus, see a great cheat sheet chart for the jig and bit on the most common wood depths.
The chart includes settings for joining different wood thicknesses too
Build One Leg
Now, lay 2 of your 2×2 legs and put that top rail between them
Measure down 14” and place the top of the bottom rail between the legs.
Turn the Pocket Holes Up
I tried the Kreg Right Angle clamp on one side, but I found it got in the way of my drill while trying to insert the screw on the opposite side.
So I went with two long clamps at each rail. That didn’t work either.
So I had to turn the pocket holes up, which will end up facing the inside of the stool.
You may also want to clamp the rail to the edge of your bench for the first screw, to ensure the 2×2 doesn’t spin on you.
Once you have the top rail in place re-measure that middle rail to ensure it is even on both sides, then clamp, and screw.
I flipped the legs and the clamp so I could use another clamp to hold to the bench for that first screw.
Attach Front and Back Rails
Next, you might want to stand your legs on end on the back of the seat so you can see the orientation of where the pocket holes will go on your front and back rails.
I found the best way to put in that first screw is to take those two pieces and lay them out so that the rail is flat on the bench and clamped to it, and the leg is standing straight up and also clamped.
Repeat for the other leg.
Check for Lower Rail Placement
Now your frame should be sturdy enough to sit on lightly and decide where you want you other 2 rails.
Mine ended up so that the top of the new rails would be at the bottom of the existing rails, so that made it super easy to mark too.
And just like the other rails, you’ll need to turn these toward the inside of the stool so you can get the screws in.
Mount the Seat
Time for mounting the frame to the seat.
Line your seat boards back up and place the frame on it.
Check to ensure everything lines up.
And then clamp it down.
I pulled the stool to the corner of my bench and clamped on 2 sides to ensure everything stayed aligned.
You could just go straight down into the frame with wood screws and it will hold.
A few #8 x 1-¾” construction screws with a star driver worked perfectly for me.
I pre-drilled and screwed to attach the frame to the seat.
And then I used at least 2 screws per rail.
Be careful not to hit your pocket hole screws.
Be sure to pre drill those holes first, and you can countersink, if you like too, but they will be on the bottom and no one will see, so flush is fine.
Even though I pre-drilled, I also used my drill instead of my impact driver to drive the screws to ensure there was no chance of splitting that wood.
Strengthen the Seat
This is an optional step.
But, if you want to ensure all 4 seat boards stay tightly together, place those 2 optional 1×4 pieces across them.
You can either pre-drill and use short wood screws.
Or you can use a brad nailer to attach them to the seat boards, which is what I did.
I used 1” brad nails as 1-¼” might actually poke through if driven in too far.
Sand and Finish
Sand the whole thing if you like.
Some of the 2x2s I had were pretty rough, and I wanted to ensure I didn’t get splinters from them.
The 1x4s were already pretty smooth, but I put a light sand on them anyway, especially those end grains so I wouldn’t get any splinters while grabbing the stool too.
Then finish as desired.
I left mine au naturale as it is a shop stool and really doesn’t need to be fancy.