I bought this mediocre little stool years ago at Ikea. It seemed solid enough and I’ve been happy with it, but over the years I’ve done a bit of stool enhancement * and made attachments to increase it’s functionality in my life.
*Let’s just get this out of the way shall we? It’s a stepstool, so there’s not a lot of room to sidestep the fact we are talking about a stool. But despite the wording I don’t want you tittering like schoolchildren every time you read the word stool. And especially not when I write about stool enhancement. It’s straight faeces all the way here folks. Erhm, I mean faces…
Little Table – Portable Work Surface
Space is at a premium for everyone, and while I am blessed to live in a fairly large basement suite with access to a carport for projects, the (let’s face it – absurd) breadth of my hobbies eats into that space very quickly. I built this little tabletop attachment for my stool so that I could create a portable work surface. Generally I use it when watching a movie from the edge of my bed. The other day I was sorting my bucket of miscellaneous nails and screws and watching Arachnophobia, yesterday I was reviewing the Colette Negroni pattern alongside the excellent Shirtmaking book by David Coffin. Often I use it to write letters, build birthday cards, or sketch out my next project on grid paper.
It’s a simple stool enhancement consisting only of a spare bit of double-width shelving, and four small hardwood rails, and it tucks nicely behind my bedroom door when not in use. I can’t recommend something like this enough to help temporarily expand your workspace, or add a little more flexibility to where you can get things done!
Building it couldn’t be simpler:
- just make your rails,
- position the table top,
- weigh it down or clamp it so it doesn’t move about – I used an anvil to hold mine in place,
- pre-drill the rails and top, and use a little wood glue and small screws to fasten them together while in place.
This method is my preference for tasks that requires precision fits, without exact positioning – it saves the measuring, doesn’t tax my flagging visual-spatial reasoning and ensures I’ve produced something that fits as expected when I’m done.
Bottle Filling Board
This is another simple stool enhancement, but unlike the very general purpose Little Table, this has a VERY niche intent.
This board (almost a little diving board) attaches onto the cross-beam of the stool and allows me to fill bottles without holding them from my continuous brew kombucha set-up. It doesn’t get much more niche than that.
Again I made this in place to ensure a good fit and eliminate the need to measure.
- cut a plywood top and round the edges on the belt sander,
- Imagine catching your shin on an unrounded 3/4 inch plywood edge – you’ll definitely want to round the corners here!
- use two small 2×2 scraps to create the lip that holds onto the cross-beam – this ensures they are deep enough that the board’s leverage can’t lift them off the lip,
- pre-drill, glue, and screw together the back piece – this gives you a firm surface to work from when attaching the front of the lip in-situ,
- put the board-and-half-lip in place and hold the front half of the lip on while you attach it (pre-drill, glue + screw),
- once it is all together you can trim any overhang or mismatches with the table saw or belt sander.
Projects like this might be a little silly, but they are some of my favourite things to do. Take something totally generic, and make it unique, and useful, and flexible – something that fits into the particular shape of your unique lifestyle and allows you more freedom in the way you inhabit and use you space.
What hacks have you made to your living space? Have you created a stool enhancement? I’d love to hear about it.