Years ago, when I was newly married, I purchased some very cheaply-made decorator tables which I used to fill out our sparse furnishings. The tops were made of particle board with various methods of attaching three wooden legs to each table. When children arrived on the scene, these tables were quickly banned to the attic due to their unstable nature and the danger of the children pulling or knocking them over. Not too long ago, I had a wonderful idea for these tables! Since the legs were solid wood and about twenty-six inches in length, I decided they would serve well as the legs to a three-legged, foldable camp stool. I had two sets of legs on hand, and I chose to use the thicker ones, which had a one-inch diameter. (If you do not have one of these tables in your attic, old broom handles of the same size or purchased dowel rods can be substituted. Just be sure they are heavy enough to bear weight.) An old pair of overalls, three identical two-liter bottle caps,a worn pair of boot laces, and the leg from another pair of jeans rounded out my collection of salvaged materials. To this I added six 1/2” Phillips-head wood screws, and some nylon cord.
One of the biggest problems that I faced while doing this project was the lack of a pattern or basic instructions for putting it together. I checked my library and the Internet without success. I knew that I would have to have some way of keeping the legs together at a central point. Whatever I used would have to allow the legs to pivot but would also have to bear the weight of the person who would sit on the stool. I considered using a steel ring to bind them together, but finding a steel ring that was exactly the right size to fit over the legs proved difficult. My next thought was better. I took forty-pound test nylon cord and wrapped this around the stool legs seven or eight times. I slid this off the legs and pulled the circle open just a little in order to make it a slightly looser fit. Then, while holding the cording circle in my left hand, I used my right to pass the extra line up through the middle, over the top and down through the loop formed on the outside. (See the photo for clarification.) I pulled this tight and continued in this manner until I had wrapped the entire circle to form a very strong, yet flexible ring. I knotted the two ends together and fused the nylon where I had cut through the rope by holding the ends over a candle flame. I also carefully held the knot over the flame to fuse it together and help prevent it from coming undone.
The next major problem that I had to overcome was making a pattern for the seat. Sliding my newly-formed ring over the legs and spreading them apart, I measured the distance between the tops of the legs. This was around eleven inches, so I taped together three pages from an old catalog and drew a triangle with eleven-inch sides. Then I added an inch on all sides and rounded the corners. The pattern for the corner pockets was a little more interesting to put together, but I ended up with a piece shaped something like a modified triangle that measured 9 1/8” wide x 3 3/4” high. Because the denim on the overalls was thinner than that of normal jeans, I cut two of the large triangles and six of the smaller ones. The large triangles just fit in the denim between the seams on the back thigh portion of the legs of the overalls! Because the seat would be bearing a considerable amount of weight, I used Fray-check on the edges of every piece.
I turned my attention to the three corner pockets first. With the right sides of the fabric facing together, I stitched along the long bottom edge on each set of two. Then I turned them right-side-out and top stitched the same edge. In the photo of the three corners, the one on the far left shows the first seam, the center shows the stitched corner turned right-side-out, and the one on the far right shows the top stitching. Next, I pinned the corners to one of the large triangles which I placed face-up on my work surface. My photo also shows a large pocket which I cut from the bib portion of my overalls pinned face-up on top of the corners. This is optional, but the idea of having a pocket to store things in appealed to me, so I added it in. After everything was pinned in place, I pinned the other triangle face-down on top, making sure that the grain line on this triangle was going in a differentdirection from the bottom one. (This helps prevent the seat from stretching out-of-shape when it is used.)
I stitched around the outside edge of the triangle through all the layers leaving a small opening free between two of the corners so that I could turn the seat right-side-out. To aid in the turning process, I found it helpful to remove as many of the pins as I could as I sewed past them. After turning, I top-stitched two seams along the outside edges, reinforcing the weight-bearing inside corner seams. I slipped the seat over the tops of the legs, and tested the seat to be sure that it fit. (I made the rounded end of the legs the “top”. If you legs do not have a rounded end, I recommend adding chair caps to round them off.) I did not choose to permanently attach the seat to the stool, because I want to be able to remove it for washing, but it could easily be attached with upholstery tacks.
My next task was to prevent the nylon ring from sliding around on the legs. To accomplish this, I cut the top-stitched seams from the legs of the overalls to create long “belt loops.” I fray-checked the edges and while they were drying, I lightly penciled in where I needed the loops to go to hold the ring near the center of the stool. I drilled small pilot holes on these marks and then used the wood screws to attach the “belt loops” on either side of the ring on all three legs. This prevented the ring from moving or falling off. To protect the bottom of the legs, I pushed the caps from two-liter soda bottles over the ends to act as a barrier against dirt and moisture. These fit so snugly on my stool that I did not have to do anything to make them stay on, but I would recommend using hot glue on any loose ones.
In essence, the stool was completely functional at this point, but I did not care for the look of the nylon ring and thought it would be cuter with a bit of bandanna-print fabric tied over it to make it appear that thestool had a bandanna as a belt. I simply slipped the fabric beneath the “belt loops” over the ring and tied it into a loose knot in the front. I also made a carrying case for the stool using a pant leg from a worn pair of my husband’s jeans. I stitched the bottom closed, added a casing atthe top, and threaded the boot lace through the casing. Then I used the straps from the overalls to make a carrying strap for the case. Once again, the pocket on the front is my artistic license, an unnecessary, but I hope attractive, addition which may prove useful someday.
Though I was able to test that my stool would safely hold at least 165 pounds, larger people will find the dimensions of this model somewhat uncomfortable and would need to allow for longer, stronger legs and a larger seat. I should also caution that each stool will be different due to the differences in craftsmanship and the materials used. Please test your product out carefully and use it responsibly.
The entire point of a stool is to provide a place to rest; however, resting requires a certain amount of trust. I trusted my stool to hold my weight because I made it and knew that the materials and workmanship were sound. But my children did not have the same knowledge. When I asked my children to sit on my stool they did so because their trust in me, based on their intimate knowledge of me, has led them to believe that I will tell them the truth and that I have their best interests at heart. This knowledge allowed them to “rest” on my homemade stool. It was this aspect of my project that God used to highlight the spiritual truth He has been teaching me. Listen to the words of Second Peter 1:2-3: “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” The Bible study that I am working through right now draws attention to the link between a knowledge of God and peace (or rest) being multiplied to me. This is such a wonderful truth! The more that I fully believe and act on my knowledge of God as He has revealed Himself to us in His Word, the more peaceful and at rest I become. He is always faithful, always loving, always in control, always perfect, always just, always wise. He is always working all things out for my good and His glory. My soul can rest because the perfect character of God lets me trust in His promises–they will never let me fall!