WikiSeat Catalyst Jig1




Introduction: WikiSeat Catalyst Jig1

About: Artifact Designer at Institute for the Future, and Pier 9 AiR

A WikiSeat is a three legged stool that is built by hand. Each WikiSeat starts with a Catalyst that acts as a central support structure. The creator of a WikiSeat has the freedom to gather materials and find their own methods for building the seat. WikiSeat creators can share what they have made and become inspired by others at .

This instructable shows how you can build your very own Catalyst! They can be used for all sorts of things:

+A great gift (or challenge) for your DIY friends and family.
+For teachers, building WikiSeats for a class project makes for a fun and engaging experience.
+Or you can build a WikiSeat of your own.

If you plan on building more than just a few Catalysts, check out the WikiSeat Catalyst Jig2 which lets you build Catalysts even faster!

Step 1: Tools and Materials

You will probably need all this stuff


+MIG Welder
+Something to cut steel: chop saw, band saw, hack saw
+Something to file/grind steel: metal file, grinding wheel, Dremel

+Sand Blaster (optional)
+Drill Press (optional)

Catalyst Materials

+Angle Iron 1"x1", 15" length per catalyst
+Primer and Paint (optional)

Jig Materials

+Three threaded rods 20" length
+Twelve bolts that fit the threading
+Six large washers
+One length of aluminum corner bead

Step 2: Prepare Materials

The Catalyst itself will be constructed using angle iron. 

+Cut the angle iron into 5" segments. You will need three pieces of angle iron for each Catalyst.

+File down the corners and edges.

+Drill holes with a drill press. (optional)

+File metal burrs from holes.

Step 3: Prepare Jig

This jig will hold your angle iron in place while welding.

+Shape corner bead into equilateral triangles with each side measuring 10.750"

*** It is very important that each side of the triangle is the same length! You will get a lopsided catalyst if this is not right.***

+Screw the washers and bolts onto the threaded rod so they can hold your angle iron in place.

+Make sure the angle iron is centered on the rod and tighten the bolts

Step 4: Set Up Jig

Set Up

+Place the three threaded rods complete with angle iron between the corner bead triangles and twist in place. This may take a few tries.

+Rotate the threaded rods so that the angle iron lines up flush.

Step 5: Tack

+With the angle iron in the jig, tack weld each outside edge in place 

Step 6: Weld

+After tacking the corners, remove the catalyst and weld the inside edges. 

I have found that it works best to start at the bottom and drag the bead up to the corner.

Step 7: Finish

Now you have a catalyst!

You may finish this any way you like, but here is what I do:


+spray with white primer

Step 8: Build a WikiSeat and Share It With the World

This catalyst is a framework for building a seat, bench, table or work of art. Or maybe you have other plans in mind?

Check out  to share what you build and become inspired by others!

Be the First to Share


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    10 years ago on Introduction

    I like it and would like to make one but I can't weld, any suggestions??


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Yep, Madrigorne says JBWeld would work as a substitute for welding. You can also build a wooden catalyst by making tall hexagon shape from wood and running it through a table saw with a jig. If you're interested I can post a Instructable on how I did that.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I cant find the jig for this one anywhere so I made a quick sketchup model to help show the process.

    Step 1: make a hexagon blank by gluing four hexagonal pieces of plywood together. 

    Step 2: make a jig that will hold the hex blank.

    Step 3: Draw a (blue) line from corner to cattywompus corner on one face of the hexagon. Cut one side of the jig to the same angle as the first blue line.

    Step 4: Set table saw blade to 45° and slide the jig+blank through. 

    Step 5: Flip the hex blank and cut again.

    Step 6: Rotate the blank two faces and repeat steps 4 and 5.

    Step 7: Repeat step 6. 

    Please use a push stick and all appropriate safety gear while using the table saw. There is a lot of blade above the table for these cuts. Thanks!

    wood catalyst2.jpgwooden catalyst.jpgFileDSCN9841.jpg

    10 years ago on Introduction

    I think people lost the point of the instructable. The point was how to make the catalyst or the jig, not the three legged seat. Considering that you need to get the correct angles before welding anything together, and then hold them in place while you weld, this is a good little method that can be used over and over for producing the wanted angles.

    By the way, guys, there is a "be nice" policy here. If you don't like the instructable, please refrain from bashing the author.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Well put. A public, 1200-word essay for "constructive criticism" is a bit out of place.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Ok made one of these at the weekend, easy to do and will be great fun to make on a larger scale. Thanks for a good instructible.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Just read through the whole Instructible and shown it to a colleague, we both noticed that you refer to 'bolts' when actually you mean 'nuts' which are used in the jig construction.
    Never the less this is still a lovely simple idea and would make a good starting point for a project. Excellent idea but the angles affect the height and the therefore the footprint and seat top size!
    Could be adpated for tables and other surfaces.


    This is an interesting idea.

    My only critique on the instructable concept is that this essentially requires the use of welding gasses and the other energy output/carbon footprint factors of welding, as well as screws or bolts when there is a very simple and ancient design that can be accomplished with a very short length of otherwise scrap rope, three poles of any available cross section and a piece of sturdy fabric or leather or even a piece of wood with three holes drilled in it.

    All of these items could be found and re-used from items that would otherwise be discarded instead of building something from new materials. It's even possible to use lengths of scrap angle iron for this without a need to weld it. As much of the focus of the Instructables community is on recycling things that are usually discarded, this may not be the best approach to win community acclaim, even though there is nothing essentially wrong with the idea behind your little invention.

    A better idea would perhaps be to make an instructable that is rather more abstract on how to weld angle iron and construct welding jigs for any project that actually requires welding. As it is, this looks like a thinly veiled attempt to sell your bits of welded metal to people too lazy to make their own or lacking welding equipment.

    Also - Calling it a "catalyst" is an overly avant-garde pretension.
    You aren't "redefining" the English language. You're snagging a cool and dynamic looking word, ignoring it's actual meaning and appropriating it for commercial advertising purposes.
    And no, I'm not being mean here. I'm actually trying to help you see how the average well educated geek DIY'er that you're trying to appeal to will see this. I've spent literally my whole life in close contact with the marketing and sales aspect of the world of art and invention. Call it free expert advice if you will. :-)
    In that vein, here's the constructive part:
    Calling it an "Innovative Hardware Solution" that "creates a simple and versatile solution to portable and fully customizable seating" with "literally millions of possibilities for the finished result, limited only by your imagination" and marketing it as a "DIY Portable Seating Kit" sound a lot more practical and interesting. Might want to include some bolts as well.

    Here's why:
    I honestly don't have an immediate positive reaction as a consumer to the idea of buying a funny looking chunk of welded angle iron with holes in it that is being marketed with a word that I associate with chemical processes.
    It's confusing, and any time you confuse the public, regardless of how smart your target audience is, they are not going to be as likely to buy the item you are selling or promoting. Especially if your product isn't immediately visually pleasing. To be honest, painting this white does make it look clean, but doesn't make it into a shape that I have the primal urge to interact with in a tactile sense, and that is really the only way to interest folks in a product that they don't immediately understand based on either it's product name or it's shape. That's why there are so many quirky products out there with soothing colors like soft blues and greens that feature sleek organic curves and combinations of smooth and satin textures; to draw people in and compel them to look for an explanation of why they want this. Lacking that, you need a product name that is clear and engaging. You already have an excellent logo design associated with this product on your Etsy page - the simple black and white graphic style is great for this type of thing and engages your audience and stimulates their imagination. You might see if you can show the idea of a little standard icon type cartoon dude sitting on one as well.

    As far as the marketing name "wikiseat" for the finished concept, goes, it's not horrible, but it does alienate a certain section of your possible target audience, as many people feel that the "wiki" concept is fundamentally unreliable for use as a source of good stable facts. Many schools do not allow their students to use Wikipedia for researching papers due to the possibility of a vandal having inserted incorrect info, and teachers are teaching their students to not trust anything they read on Wikipedia. Using a wiki reference to win an argument gets open laughter and derision in many online communities.

    When you approach the idea of marketing a chair or seat, you want to evoke stability and reliability, as well as the idea of something that is portable and easy to use. Nearly everyone has had the experience of sitting on a cheap chair and being either embarrassed or hurt when it collapsed under them. Pain and embarrassment are VERY strong primal motivating forces, and something you want to be exceptionally careful not to trigger a memory of when designing advertising copy and materials. People can easily experience memories of these stimuli on a subconscious level and will end up not buying something with out having any clue why they "didn't like" an otherwise excellent product, even if it's something that they actually NEED.

    If you do something like include bolts in your kit, you can suggest the idea that this product can be quickly assembled and taken apart on the go, perfect for campers, tailgaters, fishermen, hunters, soccer-moms and any one else who needs a quick, economical and space saving solution to portable seating. You might also mention that it's great for people of all sizes and ages, as it can easily be made shorter for children and taller for adults, thus ensuring that anyone can have a simple seat that is totally comfortable, and as rigid or padded as they prefer, since the seat can be made of anything you can think of to attach to the top, including leather, fabric, wood, or even the top of a barstool or a plush office chair seat.

    Also, setting one up in a nice room that looks like the kind of place that a sophisticated artist would live, perhaps a seat with cleverly painted legs in a modernistic or avant-garde style with a upcycled red leather barstool top, in good indirect natural light would help. Show people that this isn't just something random, it's something they can LIVE with and use, something that fits into their lives and makes them look cool to their friends.

    You're of course free to totally ignore my advice if you wish and chalk it up to the delusional chatter of some random person on the 'net.

    If you do decide to use it, there is no need to credit me or anything.
    If you want more or have questions about other aspects of advertising/marketing type stuff, you can find and convo me on Etsy under the name DreamingDragonDesign.

    tl:dr: Hopefully constructive crit and advice on marketing something like this from someone with nearly 25 years experience in designing, marketing and advertising art and inventions.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks again for the response. It is becoming clear that I need to revise my “marketing” tactics. I think one important thing that needs conveyed is that my goal is not to sell these for a profit. The original purpose for this particular Instructable is to share the construction technique with a friend who teaches a high school shop class. From my experience working with high school students on this project, they seem really enjoy the project. Building a WikiSeat is a very open ended activity where the students can explore any construction technique imaginable. They said that it was more engaging than typical class activities, and they really liked sharing their WikiSeats in a public gallery. At that gallery exhibition a friend, the one who teaches the shop class, saw the WikiSeats in the gallery and he liked the concept. Has the resources to build Catalysts, so I shared what I have learned here on Instructables. Side note: It seems that there are some people who are interested in this project, but they do not have the equipment to make catalysts. My advice there is to see if there are workshops near you that are open to the public:

    So when it comes to marketing, one target audience is students and shop teachers. But the real opportunity starts when students – seeking to learn new skills – can work along side master craftsmen who have perfected their skills. This seems like a great way for people to collaborate and learn from one another. “Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.” The WikiSeat project is a medium that span across generations and professions by allowing anyone to create something useful within the framework. Every WikiSeat has the same basic elements, but every detail is ultimately up to the builder.

    I do appreciate the feedback on marketing. You provided some great insight on how to sell products. However the intent here is not to sell anything. The intent is to share an idea. Clearly, I can do a better job of explaining the project. Maybe we could reframe the WikiSeat project as a quest to find every possible way to build a three legged seat. So far people from all over the world have designed twenty four truly unique seats. Build yours today and share it with the world at


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    That was a interesting, informative reply. I learned some things about advertising and persuasion I didn't know before. Thanks!

    Now, back to the stool:

    1. I don't weld.

    2. I don't want to learn how to weld.

    3. Even if I did want to learn to how to weld, unless I am a professional welder or do it regularly as hobby, I'm not going to have the specialized equipment needed for welding, and I'm certainly not going to run out and buy it, not knowing anything about welding in the first place.

    Whether #3 is wholly true or not, the first mention of the need for welding drained any interest I, and I'm sure many others, may have had in the project at the beginning.

    You may have touched on this in your advice: the more people you appeal to, with a minimum number of skills needed, the wider your audience or potential customer base will tend to be.

    There was an excellent suggestion in the comments by crashtestmonkey and Old bally about the loop of rope or metal ring holding the three legs together (see author's illustration at the beginning - the rubber band serves this purpose). Now that is something even a child could do!


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you. If I may brown nose for a minute, this is the most insightful critique of this project and it has been very helpful in understanding how the concept can be better presented.

    I would like to take this opportunity and address some main points:

    Reinventing the Wheel
    Using a rope or a metal ring to hold three cross sections could serve a similar purpose. Another feature of the rope/ring method is the seat can be collapsible. I experimented with this early in the project, but was pretty hard to make a seat that didn't fold up on itself. I feel that the rigid framework makes it easier for people of all skill levels and it lets us use lots of different construction methods.

    Found Objects
    It is true, this project uses material bought from the store. I wrestled with this early in the project, and searched all over my home town for scrap metal, but could not find enough of it. That said, the majority of the people who have built WikiSeats so far are not active members in the DIY community, and many of them have said that this project allowed them to see the materials around them as potential rather than junk. Also, Catalysts are infinitely reusable.

    Catalyst can be defined as "a person or thing that precipitates an event" but it is also a chemistry term that means “a substance that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected”. Looks like some people don't like this name. If anyone has ideas for a new name, and enough people support it, then lets call it something else :)

    The “Wiki” Concept
    Wikipedia has an error rate roughly equivalent to that of Encyclopedia Britannica. Even so, people often think that the community “Wiki” platform is unstable. Why is this? Because information itself is inherently unstable. Before the earth was round, it was flat. But that is not what they teach us in school.

    In (most) institutions they teach us “facts”. When dealing with “facts” there right answers and there are wrong answers, and this system doesn't work very well for several reasons. First, there are simply too many “facts” out there to even begin to learn all of them. Second, Many of these “facts”, including those found in books, are contradictory. And third, an education system that focuses on “facts” does not prepare us to get the most out of dynamic information systems such as Wikipedia.

    Don't get me wrong, it is important for everyone to have a solid understanding of the basics (math, science, language, arts) and there is lots of great information in books, but we need a better way of interacting with dynamic information systems. A teacher saying “dont trust Wikipedia” is no better than a teacher saying “dont trust books”. Both Wikipedia and books contain information which may or may not be true. The biggest difference is that Wikipedia acknowledges information's inherent instability, which in my opinion makes Wikipedia itself a medium with far greater stability. What our schools need to teach is that information found in either medium needs to be viewed through a critical lens.

    One goal of the WikiSeat project is to demonstrate how there aren't necessarily right answers. You can build a seat out of steel, or you can build a seat out of paper. Both can be beautiful, both can be functional. Or maybe you build a WikiSeat that is not for sitting on. That is also fine.

    You (AbstractDragoin) said that it might be a good idea to associate WikiSeat with stability, reliability and ease of use. It is true that this marketing angle would make WikiSeat more readily accepted. But the truth is that not everyone's first WikiSeat is stable, and they arent always easy to build. If you want an easy seat you might as well buy one from WalMart. But we all know that isn't nearly as much fun :)

    +Thanks @AbstractDragon for the insightful critique.
    +Solid framework for easier access.
    +Not built with found objects but it helps inspire non-DIYers to understand DIY community.
    +Dont like the name “Catalyst”? Lets change it.
    +Wikipedia itself is stable, information is unstable. 


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    You're quite welcome. I rather dislike giving useless comments when someone has stated in another comment that they're ok with con-crit. Especially when the crit subject is in a field I actually feel qualified to comment on.
    (I still refuse to try to find something I hate about art I love, and occasionally take heat for leaving "This is really lovely" on stuff that crit has been requested for.)
    On to my response:
    I totally agree about the basic truth of what you've said about the "wiki" concept, etc.

    But here's the part that makes 80% of designers and artists horrible at marketing a product so that they can sell enough units to make a decent profit (or expensive smaller volume quantities) :
    Marketing is NOT about telling "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth".

    That sentence and an inability to really "grok" what it means is why so many artists are working in convenience stores and at Walmart or living in their parents basements. (that and sometimes having too little willpower)
    Most artists hear that statement and think "then it's all lies, and I don't want to lie". That's not true either. As you might have noticed in what I wrote as marketing ideas in my previous message, I didn't tell a single lie. What I chose to do was give each truth a positive sound - "Versatile and limited only by your imagination" instead of " not everyone's first WikiSeat is stable".
    In marketing, you always refer to the best possible situation.
    Sure, some folks will pick bad materials, and they might not do a good job, but you kit itself is actually "easy to use" in truth - You drill holes in any three pole-like objects and bolt them on, a seat is attached on top. This doesn't mean that everyone will do this in an easy way, but there's no need to complexify the matter while writing your advertising copy.
    Basic rule:
    Assume in your marketing that the "public" is competent.
    Assume in the instruction sheet that they are totally inexperienced and incompetent. (so that it's explained well enough that they can't blame you when they fail.)
    Because you want to make people feel good about themselves and the possible success of their use of the product when you are trying to get them to part with money for it.
    Happy people spend. Nervous or uncertain people don't spend.
    So you sooth them and suck up to them [both of the following examples are intentionally extreme] :
    "You will be smart, clever and savvy if you buy this, and your friends will want one. It's also a really cool way to start a creative project that you can share with your kids and an excellent gift for the person on your list who has "everything". This kit contains one sturdy welded steel joist, galvanized bolts, washers and nuts. Some assembly and materials required. "
    Not: "This is a chunk of metal that I'm selling you because you are too lazy to make one yourself. You will probably either end up making something half-baked and shoddy with it or throw it in your garage and forget it. Your kids think the idea of making projects with you is stupid and you don't actually know anyone rich enough to have "everything". Now give me money for this junk and go away."

    As much as I agree about the fallibility of knowledge (Pliny the Elder perpetrated more myths than any 50 wiki pages, and don't get me started on the translations of Wallis Budge. Ugh.) here's the problem:
    The Marketing of a sale-able product is NOT the correct or effective way to change the way people think about things like this. It's just a good way to not sell the product. There are MUCH better platforms for mental and societal change.
    [ For the record, I'm a registered Wikipedia Editor, and was Homeschooled. But I'm also a realist, a pragmatist, and a capitalist. ]

    As for a new name, add some bolts, washers and nuts and call it a "Kit ".
    The actual item is basically a girder or joist in it's function. ( I'm sure there's another, better term, but an engineer is not one of the things I call myself. You might ask one for help with this. )
    Calling a piece of hardware something "fancy" or "catchy" is often annoying to people. Calling it a kit is practical and understandable, which is actually very appealing when you're talking about a product like this one.
    Try the K.I.S.S. principle: Keep It Simple & Stupid.

    As far as the issue of it not using found material?
    Nothing intrinsically wrong with that. I use new copper, brass and silver in the line of jewelry work I make. However, if I was going to do an instructable on the subject, I would make it focus on an abstract technique like how to solder silver, rather than how to cut the parts for something like this out of a fresh sheet of silver:
    Instead, I would focus on what sort of surface prep to do when doing a flat surface join like that piece needed, and showing how to heat it evenly with an oxy-acetylene torch to insure proper solder flow. For a "how to make this project" instructable, I'd go for something made of salvaged copper pipe or wire and reclaimed exotic wood scraps, more like this piece:
    It all comes back to Marketing: Know Thy Audience.
    Here, they value the DIY recycling/upcycling approach. Out there in the rest of the world, you need to make people feel crafty and clever without making it seem difficult or confusing to them.

    tl;dr: Oh heck, just read it. :-) Skip it if you don't care about design, marketing or any of that jazz.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I don't think you understand. After you make this, you throw it in a junk yard and the next day the yard is converted into thousands of 3 legged stools.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Then why bother to sell them or teach people how to make them? Why not just make one for each junkyard in the country, and then drive around throwing them in to cause havoc?


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Just imagine if the TERRORISTS got ahold of this instructible. Millions of dollars worth of American cars (all made in Canada and Mexico) could be destroyed overnight. We must stop this menace. I call for an immediate ban of all angle iron being sold to people of "terrorist" ancestry.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Found this, the ring method, looks nice and easy to make without welding.


    10 years ago on Step 8

    Fore "mag6210"and anyone else concerned,

    This page refers to this Instructable:

    When you build one, post your result here or like they are doing at :