DIY CONCRETE:: 5 Gallon Stool




This Instructable will show you how to make a versatile two-part stool, side table, or planter using (2) 5-gallon buckets, 80lbs. of sacked concrete and CHENG Outdoor Pro-Formula.

Materials + Supplies:Tools:
  • Hand Saw
  • Jig Saw
  • Screw Gun + Pre-drill / Countersink bit
  • Drill + 7/16" Drill Bit
  • Caulking Gun + 100% Silicone
  • Sanding Block + Sandpaper (60,100,220 grit)
  • File / Rasp
Concrete Mixing:
  • Bucket / Wheel Barrow
  • Shovel / Trowel
  • Particle Mask
  • Rubber Gloves
Concrete Finishing:

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Step 1: Construct Lid Form

Construct Lid Form:
  • Take one 5 gallon bucket and saw the rim off 2-3" below the top edge. This is done easily with a handsaw. How much you cut will determine the thickness of the lid.
  • Put the top of the bucket on the base board (rim facing up) and surround it with the support blocks (3-1/2" x 4"). Pre-drill and screw supports in place through the base board using 1-1/2" screws.
  • Caulk the inside edge to make the form water tight. Allow the silicone to fully cure and then remove the excess.
  • Cut a ring out of 3/4" melamine coated particle board with a jig saw. The ring should fit tightly and needs to be close in size to the inside diameter of the rim. Slide the ring down into the bucket section until it's flush with the rim.
  • Install four small wood blocks over the top of the rim to hold it down during casting.
  • Clean out the form and it's ready to pour.

Step 2: Construct Main Form

Construct Main Form:
  •  Measure 1/2" up the side from the bottom of the bucket and wrap tape around the bucket to use as a guide. Cut off the bottom of the bucket using a hand saw. Sand the edge and clean out plastic shavings from the bucket.
  • Cut a 13" long section of a concrete form tube 8" in diameter. One end is capped with the 2" foam disc, the other with a 3/4" disc of plywood. These should fit tightly into the tube.
  • Cut the base board from 3/4" Melamine coated particle board. It should be larger than the bucket (13" x 13"). Find the center point by connecting the corners with diagonal pencil lines. You can use plywood, just cover it with clear packing tape so it won't suck water out of the concrete.
  • Center the knockout on the base board, pre-drill and screw it in place from the bottom. You should be screwing into the plywood disc that is the cap on one end of the form tube. Install the four support blocks and hook the remaining four wood pieces over the rim and screw in place.
  • Silicone the outside edge where the bucket meets the base to make the form water tight. Allow to cure.

Step 3: Mix + Pour + Cure

  • Wear a particle mask and rubber gloves.
Mixing: For tips on mixing concrete, check out the How-To-Mix Concrete Instructable.
  • Add 80 lbs. of concrete to a mixer or wheel barrow.
  • Add 1 cubic foot pack of CHENG Outdoor Pro-Formula admixture.
  • Mix dry ingredients together.
  • Add water.
  • Mix until there are no dry clumps.
Fill the form:
  • Try to fill evenly around the knockout, pushing handfuls of concrete between the knockout and the form wall.
  • Fill to the top.
  • Vibrate the concrete by drop compaction (picking up one edge of the form and dropping it down on the table repeatedly).
  • Vigorously tap the walls of the form to help drive air to the surface.
  • Screed flat with a trowel or straight edge.
Cover + Cure:
  • Place on an flat and even surface.
  • Cover with painter's plastic.
  • Allow to cure for 4 full days before de-molding.

Step 4: De-mold Lid

  • Remove top caps and side supports.
  • Hold the plastic lid and knock the base board off by hitting it on the ground to break the silicone seal.
  • Work the concrete out of the lid gradually.
  • Use a small pry bar, putty knife, or flat head screw driver to lift the wood ring off of the concrete. Be careful not to damage the concrete.
  • Knock down any sharp edges with a diamond hand pad or coarse sharpening stone.
  • Use a variable speed polisher to grind the top down and expose the aggregate. (optional)

Step 5: De-mold Bucket

  • Tilt the bucket on the side and remove the screws that hold the side supports.
  • Remove the bucket from the base board.
  • Remove the plywood disc.
  • Turn the bucket over and place the lip of the bucket on a scrap piece of wood to knock it loose.
  • Lift the bucket off of the concrete.
  • Tear out the concrete form tube and remove the foam knockout at the bottom.

Step 6: Details

Aside from color, there's a lot you can do to detail these concrete pieces. Some details are functional and some are decorative, but even something small and simple will make your concrete piece stand out.
  • Attach rubber stamps to the inside of the bucket with spray adhesive.
  • Glue fresh leaves to the inside of the bucket and scrub them away after the concrete has cured with a bristle brush.
  • Make a drain knockout from a piece of foam and glue it to the top of the concrete form tube to make a hole through the bottom.
  • Cut a rubber bouncy-ball into sections and glue it to the wood ring with contact cement to make a finger recess in the lid.
  • Glue polished minerals, like an ammonite, to the bottom of the lid form with spray adhesive.
  • Glue decorative aggregate (precious minerals, crushed glass, etc.) to the bottom of the lid form with spray adhesive, then grind and polish to expose the aggregate.

Step 7: Finish

That's it. Thanks for following!

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    20 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Thanks a lot! :)

    Can you please tell me for having colors on the concrete, is it better to mix the powder color with the concrete mixture, or it's better to have the color on the finishing part?
    And in the case of any of these, what kind of color is suitable?

    Thank you again!


    6 years ago on Step 2

    Or, find a 2-3 gal similar bucket with lid to be a core mold. Fill with sand and water. After pouring a couple inches into an uncut 5-gal bucket, place the core-mold bucket in the middle. Then pour concrete around the edge up to the top of the core bucket. When it hardens, open core bucket and pour out wet sand. Either replace lid and pour lid over it or place a styro plug in the core bucket. See where I'm going?

    6 replies

    Great suggestion danzo, one of the easiest ways to create the void is by using a smaller bucket. The downside is that it leaves the bottom being about 4" thick (heavy) and the walls a bit thin at the top. It also makes it hard to get a clean top edge without grinding. When you cast it upside down, like in the instructable, the top is perfectly smooth and flat, while the bottom can stay rough.

    Here's a picture of how to use a smaller bucket as a knockout. I'll take some pictures of the planter I made using this method and post them up.


    I also use wastebaskets [filled with sand/rox/water] and where I want the lid to start, paint top level of hardening concrete with form oil. Your results are good, obviously.


    Wastebaskets make perfect molds and knockouts too. With all of these plastic forms it really helps if they're flexible plastic, then the concrete can usually be removed without destroying the form. Something more rigid will have to be broken away, and that can be a lot of work.

    frettedCHENG Concrete

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Ive found the best way to remove the buckets and liners is to coat the inside of the bucket with old fashioned car wax a thin coat will make the bucket slide right off and a thin coat on the sleeve bucket will make it pull out very easy as well

    Not liquid car wax it has to be paste wax you can use paste wax for floors as well just coat the inside just before you pour the concrete !


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Really great idea. I also love the idea of relief designs around the concrete, like fossils.

    One improvement I'd love to see, I had to read the whole thing to figure out where you were going with each step. A nice overview drawing or explanation would be super helpful. Something along the lines of, you'll cast a lid with one bucket using a wooden backing, and the body will be cast with a second bucket and a sonotube inside.

    You can't cover all the details, but the importance of tamping or vibrating, mixing the concrete completely, and a little more about how to grind the concrete (that looked so darn cool in your later steps) would be helpful.

    This is an awesome cool idea.

    1 reply
    CHENG Concretedlebryk

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for the suggestions, I've made some edits based on your input and hope to break some of these necessary steps out as Individual Instructables in the future (Mixing, Pouring, Grinding, Polishing, etc.)

    CHENG Concretechrwei

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    80lbs. is enough to make 1 base and lid. The base piece is right at 50 lbs, and the lid weighs about 15-20 depending on the thickness you decide to make it.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    With 2 different size Sono Tubes and some Modifications to the ends you could make your own Drain Pipes. Cool.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    This is great! Thanks for the instructions, every easy to follow & understand!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    These look so classy! Thanks for the great lid instructions.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Honestly I expected this to be sales fluff piece promoting a commercial outfit.

    I'm pleasantly surprised to find it a generic set of instructions - thank you for doing it right and not abusing instructables with advertising.


    6 years ago on Step 7

    This is a great tutorial!

    One thing you did not mention is to tamp down the concrete to eliminate voids. It appears you did that, though. When casting concrete countertops some people place the form on a vibrating table and fill it with concrete, then vibrate for a few minutes.

    I think I may try this.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Absolutely stunning! Especially the ones with the leaf reliefs!
    I agree with danzo, tho, for making it easier.