Introduction: Shock Absorber Stools

Picture of Shock Absorber Stools

This instructable shows how to make a pair of stools using shock absorbers and coil springs from a car. These are fun and quirky stools that would fit in well in any home, man cave or workshop. I always love messing about with different materials and parts from old or broken machinery, appliances etc to see what I can make from them.

⚠️ Warning, these coil springs were not under compression!!! If you are attempting these and are not sure what you are doing make sure the springs are clamped as they maybe under compression and could cause serious injury when opening them. Also before welding it to the base drill a small hole in the shock to release the gas inside. Although it should be inert gas it is wise to do so to stop the gas pressure building up from the heat of the welding.⚠️

Step 1: Have a Look at the Video Below.

Have a look at the video above to see how I built the pair of stools from start to finish.

Materials: (2 stools)

Two shock absorbers and coil springs.

2 x 1 steel:

2 @ 20 inches
4 @ 9.5 inches

Flat steel:

2 @ 6 x 8 x 1/4 inch

MDF

Paint

Screws & glue

8 Plastic caps.

Step 2: Shock Absorbers.

Picture of Shock Absorbers.

The shocks were taken from an old VW polo car. Some of you may recognize the car as this is the car where I got the seat belt buckles for my seat belt buckle key holder project.Seat belt buckle key holder. The shocks and coils spring were taken from the rear of the car.

Step 3: Taking Apart.

Picture of Taking Apart.

I started by taking the unit apart. Warning these springs were not under compression!If you are attempting this make sure the spring is clamped before opening. I removed the nuts which released the coil spring and then removed the foam bits which were inside. These would not be needed again so they were discarded. I then set aside all the nuts and small parts which will be needed later. Using an angle grinder I cut off the knuckle that was on the bottom of the absorber.

Step 4: The Base.

Picture of The Base.

For the base I used some 2 x 1 inch steel. I cut two pieces at 20 inches and 4 pieces at 9.5 inches. (Amount is for two stools)

Step 5: The Base Continued.

Picture of The Base Continued.

After cutting to length I eased all the edges with a grinding disc and then set out the pieces on a flat surface. I tack welded them in place after checking they were square. I then finished all the welds on each of the pieces.

Step 6: Feet on the Base.

Picture of Feet on the Base.

To keep the base slightly off the ground I decided to cut some circular feet. I marked a 2 inch circle onto some 1/4 inch flat steel. Using a grinder I roughly cut the shape of the circle before finishing the circle with a grinding disc. I the set them in place and welded then to the 2 x 1 steel base.

Step 7: Cleaning the Shock Absorbers.

Picture of Cleaning the Shock Absorbers.

I used a flap disc to clean off the dirt, rust and flaking paint that was on the absorber. The flap disc made short work of removing all this material.

Step 8: Welding to the Base.

Picture of Welding to the Base.

Warning make sure the shocks are not under pressure before welding as serious injury can occur!

I placed the clean shock absorber onto the base and then tack welded in place. When I was happy with the position I fully welded it to the base. I did this slowly and a little bit at a time as I did not want to burn through the metal of the shock absorber. I then cleaned up the joint with the grinder and applied a few coats of paint.

Step 9: the Seat.

Picture of  the Seat.

I wanted a seat thickness of about 1 1/2 inches so to get this width I glued together some off cuts of 1/2 inch mdf I had. I applied plenty of wood glue to each piece before clamping it and leaving it to cure.

Step 10: Steel Plate.

Picture of Steel Plate.

While the glue was curing I cut two pieces of 1/4 inch x 5 inch steel. These plates are how the seat and absorbers are joined together. I marked the centre of the plate and drilled a 1/2 inch hole. About one inch in from each corner I drilled a 1/4 inch hole and the countersunk them. These 4 hole are for screws to attach the seat.

Step 11: Cutting the Seat.

Picture of Cutting the Seat.

After the glue had cured, using a compass I drew a circle on the mdf and cut it out using a jig saw. The edges were a bit rough so I sanded them with my belt sander which was clamped to my work bench. To ease the edges of the mdf I rounded over the edges with a 1/4 inch round over bit in my router.

Step 12: Recess for Plate.

Picture of Recess for Plate.

Rather than just screw the plate to the seat I decided to remove some material so it would sit in flush. To do this I marked the position of the plate on the mdf seat and then with a straight cutting bit in my router I removed material to the depth of the plate. Before I removed the material I drilled a 1 inch hole in the centre of the seat. This is for the locking nuts when the stool is assembled.

Step 13: Painting.

Picture of Painting.

I gave the seat three coats of a black gloss paint. For the coil spring I applied a coat of primer and a few coats of an orange spray paint. Having a contrasting colour really shows off the spring. At this stage I also applied a few coats of black paint to the metal cap which was removed at the start when I was disassembling the shock absorbers.

Step 14: Assembly.

Picture of Assembly.

I slipped the coil over the absorber and fitted the cap and then bolted the plate on with nuts and washers. I used two nuts to lock the plate in place. There was some excess threaded bar sticking up at the top so I cut it off with an angle grinder.

Step 15: Plastic Caps.

Picture of Plastic Caps.

To close the holes on the ends of the 2 x 1 steel base I inserted some plastic caps which I purchased. These are just hammered into place and give it a more finished look.

Step 16: Screw on the Seat.

Picture of Screw on the Seat.

To attach on the seat I placed the plate into the recess which I routed out earlier and then secured it in place with some screws.

Step 17: Floor Protection.

Picture of Floor Protection.

To protect the floor from any damage I stuck on some felt pads on each of the four feet. The pads I used were self adhesive so they were very easy to fit.

Step 18: Thats It.

Picture of Thats It.

The finished stools! Let me know what you think of them and if you would do them differently or change anything. This is the second project I have made from the parts of this old VW polo, who knows what else this car may yield! Thank you for viewing.

If you would like to see more projects from me you can subscribe to my YouTube channel here: Eamon Walsh DIY.

Comments

RajM76 (author)2017-12-18

Awesomely Done !!

eamonwalshdiy (author)RajM762017-12-20

Thank you..

Niii Pawww (author)2017-12-17

Is it springy/comfy? Car coil springs are super tight, they move maybe an inch with 1000-lb load. So while they look great I'm wondering if they might be too tight to be springy? Great build though!

eamonwalshdiy (author)Niii Pawww2017-12-20

Thank you, there is a bit of spring in them

autotech1 (author)2017-12-17

Having been in the auto repair business all my life, I have kept
some things over the years that were replaced that I thought I might be able to
repurpose. I always wanted to keep a pair of coil over shock absorbers, but
they would just take up space needlessly until I found something I wanted to
make with them. This is a great instructable, but I want to make sure everyone
realizes that these are coil over shocks, NOT struts. You would not be able to
take apart a strut like these shocks were because the spring on a strut is
compressed before the strut is assembled and would come apart with such
velocity that someone is more than likely going to get seriously hurt, possibly
fatally. I also want to mention that some coil over shocks are assembled with
the spring compressed, but not nearly as much as a strut is, so be cautious
when disassembling any coil over shock. Lastly, a lot of shock absorbers now,
if not all, are gas pressurized, so welding on them will heat up the gas inside
and create an unsafe condition that could possibly result in serious injury
like the author mentions. If they are gas pressurized, it will always give a
warning, usually on the bottom stating something like caution, contents are under
pressure.

eamonwalshdiy (author)autotech12017-12-20

Thank you very much for all the information and taking the time explain it all.

kompot (author)2017-12-17

Nice description, but this idea is old and you find it on pintarest

eamonwalshdiy (author)kompot2017-12-20

Thanks

timdekker1825 (author)2017-12-17

Wow, what a cool idea!!

Thanks

BarryMcGowan (author)2017-12-16

Nice! I'm just wondering if I could modify an existing office chair since I don't weld.

I am sure you could, It would depend on the type of chair.

3366carlos (author)2017-12-16

awesome

eamonwalshdiy (author)3366carlos2017-12-20

Thank you..

fzumrk (author)2017-12-15

Do these have any bounce to them with the way you put them back together, or are the shocks fixed in place now?


If the upholstery is not completely trashed in the VW, you could salvage some foam and fabric to pad the seats.

eamonwalshdiy (author)fzumrk2017-12-20

Hi, yes they still have bounce. Great idea about the seats but the are covered in mold.

Antzy Carmasaic (author)2017-12-17

I was expecting someone to sit on these in the video just to see how they react and whether it is challenging or comfortable.

Gofish (author)2017-12-17

I would suggest using gloves when using a grinder and/or handling steel, riggers gloves are good. I would would also STRONGLY recommend wearing a dust mask when grinding as grinding produces metal and carbide particles in suspension in the air,(the glitter you see in the air in sunlight),this can cause Silicosis which will not only shorten your life but give you a decreased quality before you die.

davidd46 (author)2017-12-17

How about a lounge chair made with off road shocks.

Racerflash (author)2017-12-17

These are great! How do you make sure the shocks are not pressurized? Maybe drill a small hole in the casing?

seamster (author)2017-12-14

Very nice!

Were the springs under compression when you disassembled the shock units? I'm wondering how you safely took those apart. Any tips?

eamonwalshdiy (author)seamster2017-12-15

Hi, Thanks. No the back ones I used were not under compression. (for this car anyway) I did also remove the front springs which were under compression and still are.I decided not to use them as the spring shape was different so I left them in the housing unit for now anyway.

Tuomas Soikkeli (author)2017-12-15

Wow! You're lucky! You weld container filled with pressurised gas without dying when it explodes.

Seriously. That can be really dangerous.

Hi Tuomas.
Thanks for commenting I know what your saying I will add a note in the instructable. The pressure had gone from these ones, probably from laying there for years as I burned through one of then when welding and am still here. I know they are filled with nitrogen gas but when heated the pressure can build and therefore things can happen.
Thanks again

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Bio: I like to make stuff for my home and garden from wood and metal..
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