The Atari Stool




About: I'm a High School Technology teacher with Creativitis, a disease that doesn't let my brain sleep. I spend my days trying to infect my student's minds with a desire to learn. I lead by example and hope that m...

It's been a while since I've had the chance to sit down and contribute to this community. I've been meaning to share my plywood Atari chair for some time now because it's one of the most successful projects that I have completed in my woodworking class. Somehow when I sat down to design a stool to make for my class, I had a vision of the Atari logo. That vision turned into the ATARI stool. A must have for someone like me that grew up playing Asteroids, Battle Tank and Plaque Attack. Oh, and don't forget OINK. E.T. can stay buried in the desert.

Anyway, the kids absolutely loved making the stool, and the results were amazing.

Step 1: Planning

For a project like this, it's essential that you plan out the pieces carefully. Because this was a group project, I took the time to make jigs that would help us make each piece accurately. My initial prototypes made me realize that the best material for a design of this type would be baltic birch plywood. It's structurally quite strong and the unfinished edge of the plywood itself still has some curb appeal.

As always, I modeled the stool in RHINO 3d. The leg design went through several variations until I got it just right. I was also able to make a decent flush trimming jig to help make the process safer. I'm still in the process of trying to figure out the best way to guard the flush trimming process. New regulations have been put in place in our board, and using a jig like this will need some approval in the future.

Step 2: Building the Legs

The legs are simple to make with the flush trim jig. Two legs can be cut out of one piece of plywood. Please follow the plans provided for the measurements.

  • plywood is cut to 21-1/2" x 7-1/2"
  • leg template is traced on either side of the piece
  • notches can be cut on a dado saw for accuracy, or band saw if you don't have the proper setup
  • length of legs should be cut on the miter saw using a stop block to ensure accuracy
  • legs are then rough cut on the bandsaw (try to get as close to the line, less work for the router bit)
  • legs are then flush trimmed on the router table

Step 3: Building the Seat

This is the easy part. We used 2" poplar to make the seats. You could also use laminated plywood to get the thickness required. Again, please follow the provide plans for this part.

  • cut two blocks of wood to glue up for the seat
  • trace the circle on the top of the finished piece, and then cut out on bandsaw
  • top edge of the seat should be routered for comfort
  • a 1" diameter hole should be drilled to a depth of 1-1/2" in the underside of the stool to accept the post
  • it's optional, but a CNC design cut into the top of the chair is cool

Step 4: Turning the Threads

Turning the threads is pretty cool, but it requires a little bit of setup and fine tuning. The kits can be found from a few different places. I found it at Lee Valley in Canada. It's a little pricey, but it's the best way to cut threads in wooden dowel. I've tried the other methods and I don't even want to talk about it.

Beall's Wood Tapping Kit

Step 5: Assembly

Assembly is pretty straight forward.

  • First we attached the leg pieces using our trusty pocket-hole jig and some wood glue. This works pretty good, but you have to be careful with the placement of your screws when using plywood
  • On some of the stools we employed a wedge joint for the top of the seat post. This works pretty good, but you have to be precise or you can split the dowel. If you manage to get a nice tight fit, would glue will be sufficient. The seat flange piece also helps to make the seat fairly rigid.
  • it's really important to center the holes in all of the other seat pieces so that the post can turn freely. A few of my students had these measurements wrong and found it hard to spin the seat. Waxing the threads helps immensely!

Step 6: The Finished Product.

As you can see, there were a lot of great results!!

Please forward any questions that you have. This instructable is not as thorough as I would usually make it. I just haven't had the time!! I will upload a few short videos of the some of the kids at work soon. ENJOY!!

Gaming Contest

Runner Up in the
Gaming Contest

Full Spectrum Laser Contest 2016

Runner Up in the
Full Spectrum Laser Contest 2016

Plywood Contest

Runner Up in the
Plywood Contest



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    18 Discussions


    Question 6 months ago

    I love this project as it brings me back to my younger days! I also teach woodworking and CAD to high school students. Rhino is a great CAD program. Glad to see other schools are using it too. I am thinking about assigning this as one of the required woodworking projects for 2nd semester. How many weeks or class periods do you give your students for the Atari Stool build?


    3 years ago

    Mr. Noack, this a great looking stool and I like that its made all of wood to include the center screw. I remember all we made in our wood shop was a rifle rack or rolling bread box:( I am glad the students got to make a project that can be dedicated to someone special or just personalize it to make it look cool. I will add this instructable to my list of projects to make. Your instructions and photos were easy to follow. Great work and good luck in the plywood contest.

    2 replies
    Mr. Noackwarriorethos2

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thank you for the time you took to write me this message. I love posting projects to this site and wish I had more time to do it. I hope it's still around when I retire. It's great to share, and it's even better to get the positive feedback.


    3 years ago

    This has just blown my mind! I wish i had this soooo bad! Voted!

    1 reply
    Mr. Noackmakendo

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks! The drawings took longer to make than the stool!