The Stool Pail




Introduction: The Stool Pail

My job is a whole bunch of moving from one space to another. It is very repetitious and less is more when it comes to bringing supplies. Dual purpose products scream out to me so I thought I would share this idea with you. In Alberta, Canada there is a company that makes or imports a screw on lid for 5 gallon pails.

You know the white pails that every product you can think of comes in. The pail is strong, the right size, and can be found everywhere. Most of the time these pails are thrown away, and the lids that come with the pails are an SOB to take off with your fingers. The lid is called a GAMMA Seal and I think it is the best thing since sliced bread. I use this lid for my lunch pail, and when I am in Hawaii I use two of the pails with lids to store my items and I fill them with pool water to add weight to my workouts.

For my job I need a tool pail that I can power wash, fits in annoyingly small areas, I have to be able to sit on it, and operate an auger for hour long stretches. For me this is the answer that fits my life to a tee.

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Step 1: Acquiring the Materials.

You will need:

- A 5 Gallon Pail no lid.
- A leftover scrap piece of 200mm (8") PVC Sewer Pipe.
- A leftover scrap piece of 150mm (6") PVC Water Pipe
- Gamma Seal Lid (Any color)
- A leftover piece of wood larger than the inside diameter of the bottom of the 5 gallon pail.
- PL9000/Epoxy or substitute.

Optional: Metal Carabiner, 1-1/2" tubing, handle tubing.

Tools you will need:
- Access to a band saw, table saw, drill press, power sander, router.
- A bastard file, some sand paper, an exact-o-knife. a caulking gun.
- Optional: Spray Paint, Masking Tape.

Safety PPE required:
- Eye protection, gloves, ear protection.

Step 2: Nylon Buckets Are Everywhere. the Lids Are Not.

If you are in a trade or take a moment to look around. You will most likely see 5 gallon pails all around you. They are about $5 at most hardware stores, and if you're able to snag a used one your that much richer. The problem with the pails are found in the lids. Don't worry. You will not be using the lids. Instead you are going to go to the web, search for "gamma seal lids". In Canada MEC sells them for under $14 under the name "Kid Lids"

I have purchased probably 6 of these lids so far in my life. In this case it will be used as a lid for the tools and a seat top for the stool. The store only had green which is good because in my line of work sanitary infrastructure is painted green.

Step 3: Think in Circles.

The bucket is a cylinder, so in order to use as much space as possible, I am using sewer pipe and water pipe to keep as much of the space usable as possible.

Because I work near cast off sections of both water and sewer pipe, I am able to find product that works for this. If don't have access to PVC pipe, you may have to think in triangles. I'll let you think about that.

Step 4: Cutting the Pipe.

I used a bandsaw to cut the water pipe, but because the sewer pipe was too big, I cut it on the table saw. This was a learning project for me because cutting pipe with a table saw is very difficult to get straight lines. If I had to do it again, I would take a tape, draw a line all the way around the pipe and cut it very slowly either by hand or with a power tool. Once you get a straight edge, figure out the height of the inner pipe and cut it to length. I chose a slightly more difficult method.

The water pipe was cut on angle to match up with the inside diameter of the sewer pipe. I did this by eye with a Sharpe pen and a band-saw. I chose to go with a shorter compartment and a larger compartment by cutting two different sizes of dividers. You can do what you want with your stool pail.

My hands are going in to this pail at least 10 times per day. Therefore the edge of the pipe must be rounded off so that I don't shave my hand off everytime I reach in. I did this with a table router and a rounding bit.

One word of advice. Routers cut through pipe like its butter. The shavings are highly susceptible to static. If you have the option try to router the edges with the shavings shooting away from you. If not you will be wearing the shavings for most of the day. You have been warned.

Step 5: The Wood Base.

You don't have to do this. I did it because if the pail breaks or wears out, I can just take the insides out and like a snail live on in a new pail.

I chose a piece of hardwood that was leftover from another project. Measure the diameter of the bottom of the pail. Now cut your wood so that it fits in the bottom. The wood won't fit just yet, take the wood and trace the outside curve of the pail. Now with the aid of a band-saw cut the curve into the piece of wood. Then do some dry runs on the way it fits. I had to cut the curve twice, An easier way of doing this is to take a string that is half the diameter of the bucket bottom and with center mount, trace the circle on the wood. I didn't have any string, but I made it work.

this was just a base for fitting the pipe into.

I wanted a wood base that was channeled out so that the pipe fit inside. The advantage of the channel is when you apply the glue and/or epoxy the surface area is tripled and the pipe stays together better.

Take the wood base and place the 8" pipe on the wood. Trace the inside and outside of the pipe on the wood. Drill out a channel. slowly keep over lapping the drill until you take out all of the wood within the tracing. Dry fit the pipe. If you need to take the file and ream out the channel. If you have a chisel this might be easier. I did not. Once the pipe fits in the channel take the water pipe and once again trace the pipe. Then drill out the inside channel and dry fit the pieces.

When you are satisfied you will be prepping for the final stage. Gluing.

Step 6: Gluing.

Originally I was not going to make a channeled out wood base, However after I did, the epoxy I purchased wasn't going to cover all of my surfaces. Luckily I had some leftover tubes of PL9000.

Get a rag, some latex or nitrile gloves, and your caulking gun. Epoxy set up time was 5 min, and the PL9000 was 10 min. my order of operations was PL9000 for the wood base channels, and epoxy for the pipe to pipe connections. Figure out your own prep times, before you start gluing.

Caulk the glue into the channels. Take the outside pipe and place it in the wood channel like you dry fit previously. Press in place making sure the glue forms around the pipe.

Start to mix the epoxy, and coat the edge of the water pipe that will but against the sewer pipe. Start with the smaller divider and at an angle press the pipe into the channel filled with glue. Straighten into the walls of the sewer pipe, and make sure it is firmly pressed against the inside of the pipe. Repeat with the larger divider. Use your finger to wipe any excess in the joints.

Remove gloves and set project to the side so it can set.

Step 7: Masking the Pail

My pail was labeled with a hardware store logo. I wished to remove the label with spray paint.

I masked the pail with newspaper and tape and sprayed a rectangular mask over the logo. Later when the paint is dry I will remove the paper and apply another mask with my logo.

Step 8: Installing the Lid and Extras.

The inner parts need to be installed into the bottom first. Carefully lay in the wood base. Do you feel your heart tingling?

The lid is the most expensive part of the pail. At around $15 your going to want to do this properly. The lid is super easy to install. Just make sure you don't get too excited. The stool is almost ready for use.

On of my touches is the handle. The small cylinder handle is just to small. If you want a better feel. Go to the hardware store and buy about 2 feet of 1/2" hose. Thread the wire or plastic handle through the hose and reconnect. You can see the clear tubing on some of my pictures. It makes for a more comfortable feel when carrying.

I had an old locking carabiner so I decided to incorporate it into the pail. I drilled a 3/8" hole, reamed it out and inserted the hardware. 

One thing I didn't plan for was bigger tools. My solution was to bolt on some holsters to the sides of the bucket. The 1/2 inch flexible plastic pipe can hold with the help of gravity and friction our 15, and 18 adjustable wrenches when we need them. When we are not using them, they will act as bumpers. Pictures will follow in the coming weeks.

Step 9: Start Using the Stool Pail!

I know I will be able to get a decade out of this pail. I hope you too get to enjoy the stool pail like I am.

Step 10: The External Tubes.

Our adjustable wrenches were too big for the inside of this pail. We instead bolted tubes to the outside and now we have some holsters for our tools.

It is cheap, organized and it works. Build yourself an indestructible or easily re-purposed stool pail.

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    13 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Where is my head, I was expecting a different type of "stool" pail.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Actually... you can buy toilet seats designed to fit on these buckets, along with the special purpose plastic bag inserts. [grin] In fact, I know that Sportsmans Guide (see my comment above on Gamma Seal source) used to sell them, and presumably still does. (No, I'm not an SPG rep, nor do I get a commission. Darn it. [grin])


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    So did I and thought it would be very creative : a stool pail that could also be a stool ! So environmental friendly : space saving, all-in-one, multipurpose "stool" err ... "tool",
    local or short supply distribution service (from the plate to stool),etc...

    Oh well ! Guess I must wait a little bit longer.



    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I've been on jobs that had those kinds of stool pails!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Two Observations:

    (1) Given the chance, always get a white colored pail/bucket to hold tools in. The difference in interior visibility between a white bucket and any other color e.g. blue, orange etc, is enormous. I've found myself having to break out my flashlight to find something in a bucket even though I'm in a brightly let room. The buckets are deep enough to cast shadows and you usually block the light when you bend over the pail to look into it. White pails reflect enough light from the bottom to silhouette almost everything. Alternatively, paint the inside white or put some white plastic at the bottom. You will be surprised how much difference that makes. 

    (2) If you were to extend the PVC separators up to contact the bottom of the lid, you could use it as as an actual stool for anyone under 200lb/90kg. 


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Don't underestimate the lid. This bucket will withstand heavy loads. I weigh 230 pounds and can stand on the pail with no worries. Good comment on the color. White was my first choice for other reasons.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    That's good to know. I haven't used one of the gamma lids yet. It appears that by reinforcing the rim, they keep the bucket from flexing and increase it load carrying capacity. It turns the bucket into a cylindrical torsion box.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Gamma Seal supplier, US$7.99 apiece (less if you're in their "Buyers Club"):

    I use food grade buckets with the lids for bulk food storage, camping gear, even waterproof "luggage" (and yes, toolboxes). Think of them as cylindrical, air and water tight hardcase shipping boxes, and indulge your imagination. Sportsman Guide only seems to have black, white, and orange Gamma Seals. I use the international orange lid for my emergency supplies (rations, medical, stuff like that).

    A local grocery that carries food storage supplies has the gamma lids. I have a use several. Good job.