"Industrial Bar Stool" the Hard Way!!! (Not Really!)

5 Materials
10 Days
I love the look of "industrial meets rustic", think restoration hardware, etc. and like most of you, I look through Pinterest daily for ideas. I recently built a beautiful and "cool" industrial "type" bar on my patio, using 4x4's and cinder blocks (Pinterest- thank you!) but didn't have stools. I would imagine most of you have seen Ana White's beautiful furniture and instruction. She has several plans for stools and they all seem pretty simple.
If you have read any of my other posts, you likely know by know, reading instruction and "patience" happen to be two things I am less than great at! 😉
Between Ana's tutorial, plus a few others, looking at a couple of stools I already had (they are counter height so wouldn't really work for my new bar), I figured out how to make a basic stool. They are awesome and beautiful (a bit "wonky"!) slightly uneven, but still... they look great and they work.
Sadly, like most things.... (my poor husband is a real saint!) I wasn't satisfied because... well, they were just not complicated enough!!! haha! I had to have something that nobody else had done. I wanted to design my own, using the same budget (about 10.00 a stool) but I wanted these to have a real industrial look.
The challenge was doing this project without breaking the bank!
So everyone has seen tutorials using plumbing pipe. These are beautiful, definately have the industrial look I loved and with a little modifying, I knew I could come up with something unique. Well... (once again, my husband was right and I had to prove him wrong) plumbing pipe is NOT CHEAP and even when I found a place that sells metal (vs big box stores) it was still going to cost over 50.00 a chair. With a new house, FOUR kids in cars (insurance is not cheap for young adults!) college tuition, life.... 50.00 a chair was just unrealistic. So... I found another way!!!!!

Industrial on a budget! Success!

Figuring out how to attach the foot rest to the wood legs was the most difficult part! There are tons of tutorials using all pipe for base, or all wood for base, but I couldn't find a single tutorial using a wood base with a pipe footrest. I also needed to figure out how to attach a back rest, in a secure way, with an industrial feel!

My original stools

As mentioned above, not perfect, but they matched and they were simple, once I got the hang of it. Since I knew I had this down, I was ready to use this as the "template" of my industrial stools and expand. I just needed a plan! These were built, like most of my projects, using a combination of many tutorials (with photos, since I don't like reading instructions!) Ana White, Bob Vila and any others I could find.

My rough draft

I started using the same method I used for the other chairs. I love red. I stained the cedar red. I found some metal straps at home depot. They were cheap, flexible and long. I thought these may work. I had no idea what I was doing as I couldn't find any tutorial or even a photo to try and copy.

Getting close!

After playing around (for two days) I found a way to attach the pipe footrest (this was the cheapest way to incorporate plumbing pipe, yet staying close to my budget!) by using clamps. (Electrical). You can see I played around with the metal straps until I positioned them in a spot that seemed strong and gave me the height I wanted for the backs.
While this looked pretty cool, the foot rest seemed like it would break and the straps coming down sort of bothered me. It just didn't seem solid. At some level, I liked it... but it just wasn't right for me.

I decided I wanted to do something that looked totally different than my previous stools. I chose red stain because I thought it was "bold". Well, people who know me, made fun of me (I'm very predictable and even when I think I'm taking risks, nobody else seems to even notice!) so... after I used the stain, I stepped back and thought... I should go REALLY BOLD and figured out what I believed was the perfect solution. I would use BONDO.. yes... bondo. Make the seats seamless and smooth- like butta! And then epoxy resin.
In retrospect, I NEVER should have used bondo. For me, it was insanely difficult to work with. In the future, if I want this look, I will buy the cheapest wood I can find- yellow pine- fill it and epoxy. Would have saved days, had I known in the beginning what I was doing!!

Epoxy and large L brackets
Moving along. I figured out that I could screw in these large L Brackets I found and it gave the industrial look for the seat backs, with lots of support. It was solid. For the foot rests, I used the end caps in the plumbing pipe and drilled a hole large enough to fit a big bolt through it. Then I tightened everything from the back, using large washers for more support.
Hopefully you can see the brackets. They look great.
Side view of legs and pipe
Moving forward, these really won't be difficult!
Happy with the result!
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

Suggested materials:

  • 2x6   (Lowe's)
  • Plumbing pipe   (Home Depot)
  • Bondo   (Walmart)
See all materials

Jessica Hoffman
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

  1 question
  • Flipturn Flipturn on Nov 02, 2021

    'Just saw this project now, over four year after it was originally posted.

    I'm wondering how the shiny new red paint has held up to a busy household full of kids. .. . . .. ?


Join the conversation

  • Miriam Illions Miriam Illions on Apr 09, 2017
    How cool! Love your style.

    • Jessica Hoffman Jessica Hoffman on Apr 10, 2017
      Aw thanks!! You are the first and only comment I have had on these!!! I really appreciate it! When I make things without "copying" anything I have seen, it always makes me a little unsure of the result, until I hear what other people think. Love feedback!!!

  • Nicolette Spargo Nicolette Spargo on Apr 10, 2017
    These are going to look great with the bar you built! You are very talented :)

    • Jessica Hoffman Jessica Hoffman on May 13, 2017
      Thanks so much!! Would love to SELL them! Lol my husband tends to get a bit frustrated with my projects... not much room left! I think we now have about 20 stools! Lol