How to Make a DIY Folding Footstool: A Step-by-Step Guide

My hotel room has a chair and table that I work at every day. The table is high and the chair seat is low, making my back hurt after a while. I have added chair pads to elevate my body so my arms do not tire out. This means my legs hang lower than my hips, which also affects my back. Task chairs are expensive; I have yet to find one that fits me well. Instead, I decided to try to find a folding footstool that would serve my needs.

Ideally, your thighs should be perpendicular to the floor, or straight. I worked out a stack of books and measured the height I needed. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a commercial foot stool at that height. Folding footstools are often made of cheap plastic, are too narrow or uncomfortable if I want to work in my bare feet.

The solution was simple. I’d raid my friend’s scrap boxes and make a folding footstool I could be happy with. If I’m going camping, I can use it as a stool for sitting on.

My plans can be modified to fit any size foot or stool.

You will need:

  • General woodworking tools (DIY centers can cut wood for you at a small charge)
  • Sandpaper, stain and sealer or primer and paint
  • Leftover upholstery fabric or leather
  • Foam
  • Furniture nails or tacks
  • Two short piano hinges- Other types of hinges are acceptable.
  • Drill and bits
  • Dowel – One-half to one inch in diameter
  • For plywood, edging or wood putty

Step One:

I decided to find out how tall my foot stool needed to be. I stacked books on the floor and sat in my chair. I placed my feet on the books and rearranged the stack until my back and legs were comfortable.

My height came to eleven inches. I could not find a commercial stool anywhere that height. I would have to get one and prop it up- that’s kind of an oxymoron.

Step Two:

I wanted my footstool to be wide enough for me to sit on at a campsite or to rest my feet on without hanging over the edge.

I decided my folding footstool would be twelve inches wide. My feet would not hang off the edge and at a campsite, my seat would be comfortable.

Step Three:

I chose half-inch wide plywood for my stool. Since I weigh 127lbs, it won’t bend under my weight. Thicker wood can be used, of course.

I cut two pieces of wood twelve inches wide and ten and a half inches high. The third piece of wood measured twelve inches wide and twenty-four inches long. My friend has scraps in his woodpile, but I could also purchase half or quarter-sheets of plywood at my local DIY store as well.

Step Four:

I sanded all the pieces to make finishing easier. I dislike using “iron-on” plywood edging, so I filled the edges with wood putty.

I measured four inches in from each side and marked where my hinges would be. I purchased two one-foot long piano hinges that were on clearance a couple of years ago; they came in handy for this project. I attached the piano hinge to the bottom of the top board and to the inside of the legs. They fold up under the stool.

Step Five:

This step can be performed before attaching the legs to the stool’s underside if you so desire.

I measured two inches up from the bottom and centered a one-inch hole completely through each of the legs. I cut a dowel to fit through the holes and stick out two inches on each side. Hook and loop tape straps affixed to the underside of the top allows the dowel to travel with the stool when folded. It won’t get lost.

Step Six:

I stained and sealed my folding footstool a dark, pretty walnut color. Since I had some leftover leather from an old upholstery project, I cut and placed the foam on top of the foot stool. I cut the foam a half-inch smaller than the top.

I cut the leather to fit over the foam and fold under a half-inch at each side. The furniture tacks were nailed in place.

My folding footstool looks like a small, fine piece of furniture.


  • One alternative to hinges is to cut half-inch notches at each top corner of the legs. Mark a slot in the top boards at each edge or at the place where you would put the hinges. The legs fit in the slot and the dowel goes through the hole.

This makes a great gift for students, office workers or anyone who needs a footstool. It also makes a great small stool for toddlers.


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