How to Build an Easy Counter Height Stool

a DIY counter height bar stool

Adding comfortable seating to your kitchen or bar area can be expensive and may not fit your unique style or space. However, building your own counter height stool is an excellent solution. Not only does it allow you to add a personal touch to your home, but it also provides a unique opportunity to learn basic woodworking skills.

Inspired by this tutorial by MellowPine, I decided to find out what it takes to make a bar stool with splayed legs and a plywood seat.

Counter Height Stool

In this step-by-step guide, I will walk you through the process of building a counter height stool. With a few basic materials and tools, you can create a beautiful and functional piece of furniture that is perfect for your home.

Bar Stool Height

The height of a bar stool will depend on the height of the bar or counter that it is intended to be used with. A general rule of thumb is to allow 10 to 12 inches (25-30 cm) of space between the top of the stool seat and the bottom of the bar or counter.

Here are some common heights for bar stools:

  1. For a standard 42-inch (107 cm) bar or countertop, a bar stool with a seat height of 30 inches (76 cm) is usually recommended.
  2. For a 36-inch (91 cm) counter or bar, a stool with a seat height of 24 to 26 inches (61-66 cm) is usually recommended.
  3. For a 48-inch (122 cm) bar or countertop, a stool with a seat height of 34 to 36 inches (86-91 cm) is usually recommended.

Keep in mind that these are general guidelines, and you may need to adjust the height of the stool depending on your own height and the height of the bar or counter.

Materials and Tools Needed for a Counter Height Stool

These are the materials and tools you’ll need to build your DIY bar stool:

  • 2 pieces of 1×2 lumber, 18 inches long
  • 2 pieces of 1×2 lumber, 22 inches long
  • 4 pieces of 1×3 lumber, 24 inches long
  • 1 piece of 3/4 inch plywood, 15 inches by 15 inches
  • Wood glue
  • 1-1/4 inch wood screws
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint or stain (optional)
  • Circular saw or handsaw
  • Power drill or screwdriver
  • Clamps
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil

Step 1: Cut the Legs and Supports for your DIY Bar Stool

a man using a circular saw on a piece of wood
Use a circular saw or handsaw to cut the legs of your DIY bar stool. Photo by Greyson Joralemon

First, cut the legs and supports to size. Using a circular saw or handsaw, cut two pieces of 1×2 lumber to 18 inches long and two pieces to 22 inches long. These will be the legs of the stool.

Then, cut four pieces of 1×3 lumber to 24 inches long. These will be the supports that connect the legs for your counter stool.

Step 2: Attach the Supports to the Legs

a clamp on a desk with tools and wood
Clamp the wood together. Photo by Greyson Joralemon

Apply wood glue to the ends of the 22-inch pieces of 1×2 lumber and attach them to the top of the 18-inch pieces to form two L-shaped legs.

Clamp the legs together and use a power drill or screwdriver to attach the supports to the legs with 1-1/4 inch wood screws. The supports should be attached to the inside of the legs, 5 inches from the top of the legs.

Step 3: Cut and Attach the Seat

Cut a piece of 3/4 inch plywood to 15 inches by 15 inches. This will be the seat of the counter stool. Depending on your bar stool design, you can either leave it square or use a jigsaw to cut a circular shape and sand it down so it is smooth. 

Apply wood glue to the top of the counter height stool supports and place the plywood seat on top, making sure it is centered. Clamp the seat to the supports and let it dry for at least an hour.

Step 4: Sand and Finish the Stool

a woman sanding down wood
Sand down your wood for a smooth finish

Sand the DIY bar stool with sandpaper to smooth out any rough edges or imperfections. Then, apply a coat of paint or stain to the stool, if desired. Let the finish dry completely before using the stool.

Step 5: Enjoy Your New DIY Bar Stool!

a kitchen with beams, oak diy counter stools and light oak flooring
Easy wood counter height stools!

Your new bar stool with splayed legs and plywood seat is now complete and ready to use. Place it at your kitchen counter or bar area and enjoy the comfortable seating it provides.

Tips and Tricks to Consider

Building your own wood furniture can be a fun and rewarding experience. Not only do you get to create something unique and personal, but it can also be a great way to save money.

However, it can be intimidating for beginners to get started. Here are some tips and tricks to consider when building your own wood furniture.

Plan Your Project

notepad and tools on a bench
Get planning!

Before you start building, it’s important to have a clear plan in place. This includes deciding on the design, measurements, and materials you will need.

You should consider your skill level and the tools you have available. Take the time to create a detailed plan and a list of materials to ensure a smooth and successful project.

Choose the Right Type of Wood

The type of wood you use for your project will affect the overall look and durability of the furniture. Some woods are better suited for certain types of furniture, so it’s important to do your research and choose the right type of wood for your project.

The best type of wood for a bar stool depends on several factors, such as the design, style, and intended use of the stool. Here are some popular types of wood used for making bar stools:

  • Oak is a strong and durable hardwood that is commonly used for furniture. It has a beautiful grain pattern and is available in various finishes.
  • Maple is another strong and durable hardwood that has a light, uniform color, and a subtle grain pattern. It is often used for modern or contemporary bar stool designs.
  • Cherry is a beautiful, reddish-brown hardwood that is often used for high-end furniture. It has a fine, straight grain and a smooth texture.
  • Walnut is a dark, rich hardwood that has a distinctive grain pattern and a warm, inviting color. It is often used for traditional or rustic bar stool designs.
  • Birch is a light-colored hardwood with a tight, uniform grain pattern. It is a popular choice for Scandinavian-style bar stools.

Ultimately, the best type of wood for a bar stool will depend on your personal preferences, budget, and the overall design of your space.

Consider factors like grain pattern, color, and hardness to find the perfect fit for your furniture.

Invest in Quality Tools

a spanner, hammer, tape measure and pliers on a table
Photo by Louis Hansel

Using the right tools is essential for building quality furniture. Investing in high-quality tools can make the building process easier, help you achieve clean and accurate cuts, and be more efficient.

At a minimum, you will need a saw, drill, sander, and clamps. Consider purchasing additional tools like a router or jointer to expand your capabilities.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

One of the most important rules of woodworking is to measure twice and cut once. This will help you avoid mistakes and ensure that everything fits together correctly.

Take your time and double-check your measurements before making any cuts.

Sand, Sand, and Sand Some More

diy bar stools made from oak

Sanding is a critical step in the building process. It helps to smooth out any rough edges and create a polished finish.

Take your time and use different grits of sandpaper to achieve a smooth surface. Don’t forget to sand in between coats of paint or stain to create a professional-looking finish.

Don’t Skimp on the Finish

The finish is the final touch that brings your furniture to life. It not only enhances the natural beauty of the wood but also protects it from wear and tear.

Don’t skimp on the finish and be sure to choose a high-quality product that will stand the test of time. 

Common finishes include varnish, shellac, lacquer, wax, and oil. Varnish provides a hard, durable finish that is resistant to water and scratches, while shellac provides a smooth, glossy finish that enhances the natural beauty of the wood.


DIY Ikea bedside table in green with wood details, topped with a lamp and placed beside a cozy bed.
A bedside table hack I did, adding wooden dowels to the front of the drawers. It takes time and patience

Building wood furniture is a skill that takes time and practice to perfect. Don’t get discouraged if your first few projects don’t turn out perfectly. Take your time and work carefully to avoid mistakes and ensure a high-quality final product.

Practice safety precautions, such as wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and working in a well-ventilated area.

Keep learning from your mistakes! I put off building with wood as I was not confident about using power tools. With time, you’ll become more confident and skilled in your woodworking abilities.

red homemade counter height bar stool
Image credit:

Building a counter stool with splayed legs and a plywood seat is a great way to add functional and stylish seating to your home.

With a few basic materials and tools, you can create a beautiful piece of furniture that is tailored to your unique style and space. Remember to take your time and follow the steps carefully to ensure a successful project.

how to build a counter height bar stool for your kitchen Pinterest pin

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