DIY Concrete Bucket Stool


My wife needed something for her students to sit on in the reading corner in her classroom. She's a 5th grade school teacher and likes to incentivize students to do well by allowing them to do something special. Going to this reading corner is one of those things, and they eat it up. Recently, it has even been a spot where they are allowed to do the Osmo and snap circuits, two very cool STEM activities. 

Watch the video about how I made this stool:


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Table saw
Hand Saw
Flush trim saw
Angle grinder
Grinding wheel
Boiled linseed oil
Quikrete 5000 (pick up locally)
Sanding block
150 grit sandpaper
Paint (Choose what paint you want)
Random Orbit Sander
Hook & loop sandpaper (I prefer Diablo brand from Home Depot)


A while back, someone was cleaning out one of their storage units and they had a bunch of shovels in one of them. They didn't want them, so I took 12 shovels. I gave one to pretty much everyone I know...3 of my neighbors, my dad, my sister and kept a couple for myself. I still had 4 shovels left, and I wanted to just use them for the handles, rather than completely scrapping them. 

I had been wanting to try out the concrete bucket stool I saw Ben from Homemade Modern make a couple of years ago, and this was the perfect excuse. 

I wanted as much length out of the handles as possible, so I initially started trying to grind down the metal studs holding the wooden handles into the shovel head. Then, I tried prying apart the metal tang a bit, only to break part of my screwdriver. Finally, I just decided to saw off the handle where it went into the metal. It was not worth that effort for a little bit longer of a dowel. 


I found a five gallon bucket lying around that was pretty smooth and measured up about 3 inches from the bottom. This is so I could know how much concrete to put in. The concrete I'm using is Quikrete 5000 Countertop Mix. 

I saw Ben use some wire to connect the three legs he was using, and I had some aluminum wire lying around, so I used that. I drilled a hole in each shovel handle so I could link them together. In the end, I'm glad I did, because one of the legs was a little loose, but it stayed in place because it was wired to the others. 

I added concrete until it reached the line I marked on the inside of the bucket. Then, I added some water. After mixing it well, I put in the three legs, making sure not to push them all the way to the bottom of the bucket, because this would make them stick out of the concrete when you turned it over. 

Agitate the concrete with something. I tried using my random orbit sander with no sanding disk on and then went to a rubber mallet. 

After about 2 days, it is ready to just pop right out of the bucket. Well, that's how it is supposed to happen. I guess i had some concrete on the sides of the bucket above where the stool would lift out, so I wrestled with this for a good 10 minutes. When I finally got wise to the fact,  scraped off some of said concrete and it came out not too long after. Live and learn.

I sanded the concrete and the legs. I got a couple of large cracks in the concrete that went up the side and started into the top of the stool. (You can see a close-up on the video) I know concrete is prone to these hairline cracks, so I'm not sure if there was something else I could have done, or if it was inevitable. 

I treated the legs with some boiled linseed oil and wiped on a couple of coats of water based poly onto the concrete. I like the result of this, because it soaked it up and make it look a litter darker and richer. After the oil had dried, I dipped each leg into some white paint. Dipping at an angle yielded the coolest look. I had to wipe off the bottom of the legs a bit, since there was so much paint, but then I just sat it on some waxed paper to try for a few days. 

It is really cool to know that I could turn some old shovel handles into something where kids can learn and grow their minds. I wonder what item one of them will use to make something that will help the next generation. 

Thanks for taking the time to check out this project and if you have not already, give the video a watch. I think you'll like it.