The Amazing Bucket Stool!





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!



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27 Discussions


1 year ago

I am a Girl Scout volunteer (50 +yrs)
Girls Scouts make seats like this to take camping for over 20 years. Thery put lunch, snacks, crafts or jackets in them to keeps things clean and dry. Girls come up with interesting designs no two are a like.
I made a bag with several pockets to hold items like pen&paper, fire starters etc. Put the bag inside the bucket so that the pockets are usable. Still have room for jacket, lunch etc. Make it with a drawstring, fit over the bucket opening that will keep tha bag in place.
And that way the bag can removed and all items will be togather, if you need to use your bucket to gater wood or carry water or whatever.

1 reply

Super cool! I would love to see pictures of all the different variations the girls come up with : )

I have tried several methods for cutting foam. I'd be interested to know how you cut yours? Thanks!

4 replies

If you are lucky, you can get it cut at the store, but for sure an electric carving knife is an excellent tool. A bandsaw works really well, too!

I agree with the others here, an electric carving knife is excellent.

An electric knife works well.

Regarding cutting foam, I purchased a used (garage sale) electric carving knife years ago after being to a foam shop. I saw them using such a carving knife and how well it worked. There are professional foam carving tools that are quite expensive but an electric carving knife works basically the same way and is a lot cheaper.

I made one of my own design several years ago, but it looks a lot like this one. My seat cover was a pretty, striped, outdoor fabric, but has an elasticized edge, so I can take it off to wash. Mine also has a 2-inch foam pad. Since I need my seat to swivel, I attached a flat head bolt to the center of the lid, through the center of the wood. I can sit in my garden and work without having to get up every time I need something behind me (bad knees make getting up and down difficult). With my bad knees, getting up from a single 5-gallon bucket made my seat too low. I solved this by sticking two buckets together. Just the extra couple of inches made all the difference!

4 replies

Nice! Those sound like really good additions. I especiallylike the elastic cover idea.

Love the idea for the garden. I think if I cut a large hole in the side, I could use it as a tote for garden tools "while I'm on the job." Plus, moisture would have a place to go rather than rust my tools. Thanks for the idea.

I'd be worried about putting a hole in the side, surely it would weaken it

Great idea! I use my bucket seat everywhere I need to sit and work. I love that I can swivel around and not have to move the bucket. I use this to weed my 91 yr. old Dad's daylily flower bed. I can sit in one spot and swivel around and weed everything within reach within the circle, before I have to move! I also use my seat to prune and pick blueberries.

I think it would be easier and quicker, though a less impressive finish, to simply pleat and staple the fabric, rather than sewing on the skirt. What is the maximum weight that you think your buckets can hold?

sandwich a lazy susan between two pieces of plywood to make the seat swivle??

1 reply

Look in your local thrift store for those old 'twister-type' weight loss swivels (my mom uses hers under the Scrabble board). They were designed to be stood on so they would definitely work for sitting. I am going to upgrade the bucket I use for odd jobs around the apt.

I have made and used 5-gallon bucket seats of many variations for years, perhaps the most versatile items ever made by man!


1 year ago

I have one of the hard plastic ones, but a padded one would be really nice on the tochas for long hours of doing brake jobs.


1 year ago

I have a item named "Bucket Seat" by Bucket boss. it's domed and fits right on a 5 gallon bucket no foam padding needed used while I was still working bought it at either Lowes or Home Depot use it around the yard. Also there are 7 1/2 gal buckets which are taller and I prefer with my bad knees less distance to get up.

Neat idea, will be making one. Simple & well made tutorial.

it'll work great in my tiny home