Introduction: From Broken Stool to Side Table

About: woodworker, welder, crafter, maker, youtuber

I needed a side table to put in a small spot at the end of our couch. I was going to just make one from scratch, but then realized I could use a broken bar stool I was about to throw away. It was in pretty bad shape and had been repaired many times. However, it appeared to be constructed of solid hardwood and I thought it had a nice design, so I went to work on it.

Step 1: Disassemble Broken Stool

Like most factory made furniture, this stool was constructed with screws, hex head bolts, cam locks, and dowels. It's just a matter of using a drill with the matching bits to pull everything apart. It also helps to have a rubber mallet handy to knock some of the dowels free. I used a phillips head screw bit and a 4mm hex head bit in the drill to undo the parts.

Step 2: Flatten the Top of the Stool

I used my thickness planer to flatten the top of stool and remove the paint and finish. It took a little time and several passes, but it came out looking good.

I was a little unsure about what kind of wood this was by the grain and light color. It was also very heavy. There was a Made in Thailand sticker on it, so I researched different hardwoods from that area. After some looking I think it's rubberwood. It's from that area and used for quite a bit in furniture manufacturing.

Step 3: Adjusting the Height and Angles

I needed to adjust the height a few inches so that the table would be about as high as the armrest on our couch. Using my table saw, I removed 3 inches from the top of each side piece.

The bar stool originally had a slight angle to it's stance. I wanted to square things up for the table. I pulled the remaining dowels out of the side rails with some pliers. Then, I used my crosscut sled to cut the ends to 90 degrees, also making sure to keep them at equal length.

This will allow me to only have to make 90 degree right angle cuts for the rest of my parts.

Step 4: Making the Table Top Sides

I picked up a piece of 1" x 4" pine from the hardware store to function as the sides at the top of the table. I measured the rails that were connected to the two pairs of legs and the two rails I had cut the angles off of. Then I marked my cut locations accordingly.

I each piece using my cross cut sled. After cutting each one I would check the size my dry fitting them together to make sure they were the perfect size.

Step 5: Creating Slots for the Storage Base

I needed to create a slot in each of the new side pieces to support a plywood base for storage. I wanted to start each slot at 1/4" from the bottom of each one. Using the cross cut sled, I set up a stop block with a piece of scrap wood and a vise at that distance from the blade.

I set the table saw blade height to where it just cut into each piece about 3/16". I made 3 passes on each board, moving the stop block and vise down a tiny bit each time. This cleared out a big enough slot in each one for the plywood base to slide into.

Step 6: Drilling Pocket Holes and Sanding

Now that we have all our pieces cut out it's time to create a way to join them together. I used a pocket hole jig to make my joints nice and strong. Using the system's clamp and jig with it's provided drill bit will make the holes that I will later put screws in to join everything together.

Then, it's on to the mundane task of sanding our unfinished wood parts. It takes a little time, but it's necessary. I started with a 120 grit paper and finished with a 220 grit.

Step 7: Staining and Finishing

The stool originally was a deep black color that was lightly distressed. I wanted to have a color on the new top portion that complimented the original legs, but contrasted nicely also. Our living room has quite a bit of color in it, so I also wanted it to be a neutral color.

I have quite a few different stains in the shop to choose from, but none of them seemed exactly right. I ended up using a minwax classic grey mixed with jacobean to achieve a darker grey color. After removing the excess stain with a cloth the colors between the two different wood species seemed go well together.

I then applied a few coats of semi gloss Deft lacquer for the finish.

Step 8: Getting the Storage Base Ready

I used a scrap piece of 1/8" plywood for the storage base. I measured out the width and length of the inside portion of the table by dry fitting it together and clamping lightly. I then allowed some extra room on each side for the 3/16" slot I cut into the table sides to hold in the base. After marking those measurements on the base, I used my crosscut sled to size it down appropriately.

I then used a scroll saw to cut out some small notches to allow it to fit around the inner portion of the legs.

Step 9: Assembling the Sides & Base

Using some clamps with rubber tips I tightened the first section together. I then used some 1 1/4" screws in each pocket hole and drilled them in. After attaching the first two sections I slid in the storage base into the slots. I then went on to clamp the remaining sides and drill in the rest of the screws.

Step 10: Reassembling the Original Parts

I reattached the side rails with the original dowels, hex head bolts, and cam locks using my drill.

Then I mixed up some 5 minute epoxy resin to reattach the accent pieces that covered up the bolt holes. I applied the epoxy to the dowels and tapped them in with a rubber mallet.

Step 11: Attaching Hinges

I used a 1" butt hinges to attach the top of the table. I lined up my hinges and marked my drill points and then drilled a pilot hole with a 1/32" bit. Then, I placed my hinges and drilled in the screws supplied with them to the base.

In order to make the top of the table sit flush to the base, I mortised out the hinge locations I had marked out. I used a palm router with a flush trim bit at about 1/16" depth. I then marked and drilled my screw locations in each spot I had mortised out. I drilled in the screws and was on to the next step.

Step 12: Finishing Touches

I wanted to secure the table top and prevent it from opening to far and stressing the hinges. I found a small length of chain I had around the shop and then adjusted the angle of the lid to the farthest point I wanted it to open to. I then stretched out the chain and marked 2 locations where they would attach to both the lid and lower portion. After that, I drilled 2 small pilot holes and hand screw some 3/4" screws into them to secure the chain.

It seemed to need something a little more to add to the look. I thought it might be nice looking to have a knob in front, like a false drawer. I already had a good selection of unused knobs laying around, so I grabbed one. I measured for center, drilled a hole for it,and mounted it.

Step 13: The Payoff

Overall, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. It serves the purpose it was intended to and I like the look.

Trash to Treasure

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Trash to Treasure