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Build It | Upholstered Footstool Class

Ask This Old House general contractor Tom Silva checks out a women’s only DIY class on building a footstool and discusses some of the unique challenges faced by women learning DIY skills

1. Start by marking a circle on the 2x2 foot board. Here’s an easy way to do this:

  • Use a framing square or other straight edge to draw two diagonal lines across the board. Where the two lines intersect will be the center.
  • Measure and mark the radius of the circle on each diagonal line. In this case, Belinda chose a 9 inch radius for 18 inch diameter footstool.
  • Hammer a nail into the center of the board and tie a string to the nail. Tie the other end of the string to a pencil. Make sure the string is the same length as the radius.
  • Draw the circle using both the string and the marks as a guide.

2. Cut out the circle using a bandsaw.
3. Mark out the location for the four legs on the birch plywood. Eyeball the first one and then measure its distance to the center and reuse that measurement for the other three sides.
4. Drill the holes for the legs.
5. Hammer the T-nuts into the drilled holes.
6. Stain the legs to the desired color.
7. Cut the bull denim the same radius as the birch. Here’s an easy way to do this:

  • Fold the fabric into a triangle.
  • Measure and mark from the corner of the triangle outwards the same radius as the birch, which in this case was 9 inches. Do this a few times along the desired arch.
  • Cut the fabric using the rotary cutter along the radius marks and unfold the fabric.

8. Make little snips around the edge of the bull denim and fold the snips inward. Iron the fabric to push the snips inward.
9. Cut the upholstery fabric using the same cutting method, but keep in mind the radius will be larger because it has to accommodate the thickness of the upholstery foam.
10. Cut the upholstery batting to the same size as the fabric. It might easier to cut that with just the scissors instead of the rotary cutter.
11. Spray the upholstery foam and the top part of the birch base with spray adhesive and stick them together.
12. Thread the outside of the batting with upholstery thread.
13. Wrap the batting around the foam and birch base. Use threaded upholstery thread to pull the batting tight around the base.
14. Secure the batting to the base using a staple gun in a few key places.
15. Wrap the upholstery fabric around the base and staple it in. Staple it in four corners and work in quadrants to ensure that the folder staples space out evenly.
16. Staple the bull denim over the bottom of the base to hide all the work from the fabric and batting.
17. Poke holes in the bull denim over the T-nuts so the legs can be screwed in.

Tom met and worked with Women Repair Zone, an organization that hosts DIY classes taught by tradeswomen for women only.

To build the footstool, Belinda used upholstery fabric, spray adhesive, and footstool legs. All of these materials can be found at fabric stores.