Introduction: The Amazing Bucket Stool!

About: the Wonderful Idea Company is a design studio for the playful exploration of ideas in art, science and technology

We love to create pop-up workshops for playful explorations of art, science and technology, and setting up a good workshop space is a tricky business. You need to quickly create a space that is inviting, functional, and comfortable, where people can spend a long time getting deeply engaged with an idea or exploration. One key ingredient to a good workshop is comfortable seats, and we had a big wish-list for ours. A good workshop seat should to be;

  • Lightweight but sturdy
  • Stackable
  • Easy to carry
  • Affordable
  • Tough
  • Comfortable
  • And if you’re really dreaming, a place to store materials

Where on earth are you going to find something this awesome? It turns out that plastic 5 gallon buckets totally fit the bill. Lightweight and sturdy? Check. Stackable? Check. Easy to carry? They have handles! Affordable, yep! Tough? For sure. Extra storage space? Yes! Comfortable? Oh . . . heck, no.

Okay, so enter this instructable! You can upholster a 5 gallon bucket with a little foam and elbow grease to create a super comfy, tough, awesome stool for all your pop-up workshop needs.

Step 1: Gather These Things, Carry Them Home in Your Bucket


  • 5 gallon bucket with lid
  • heavyweight fabric (denim, canvas or vinyl work well)
  • 1/4 20 bolts
  • 1/4 washers
  • 1/4 20 t-nuts
  • 1/2" ply
  • 2" thick foam


  • drill
  • 9/32" drill bit
  • jigsaw
  • 7/16" wrench
  • stapler
  • hammer
  • scissors
  • sewing machine

Step 2: Make the Seat

trace the bucket lid onto a piece of 1/2" thick plywood to make a circle

cut out the wood circle with a jigsaw

drill four holes in the wood circle

transfer the holes to the bucket lid and drill them out

hammer the t nuts in

trace the bucket lid onto 2" foam and cut out the foam circle

Step 3: Create the Seat Cover

Trace the bucket lid onto your fabric, and add 1/2" all the way around for the seam allowance.

Tip: a washer is a handy tool for adding a seam allowance, just place your pencil in the middle of the washer and run it around the wood circle.

Do a little math to figure out how long the strip should be. Measure the wood circle, and multiply the diameter with pi to find the circumference of the circle. Add 1" for a seam allowance. Cut a 4" strip to that length and sew it into a tube.

Pin the tube to your fabric circle, and sew it together

Notch the seam allowance all the way around the fabric circle

Step 4: Upholser the Seat

Flip the cover inside out, and put the foam circle inside

Add the wood disk

Staple the fabric to the disk

Trim any extra fabric

Bolt the seat onto the plastic lid

Try it out!

Step 5: Set Up Your Pop-up Workshop!

Once you make a few of these amazing bucket stools, you're ready to use them for a pop-up workshop!

This was the first pop-up workshop that we used our bucket stools for, and they were a big hit. We were able to set up a beautiful and inviting workshop space quickly and easily, tuck our extra materials away out of sight, and invite people to get comfortable and spend a long time engaged in the activity, which was a collaborative art installation created with a tortilla printing press.

But that is an Instructable for another day!