On Wednesday I attended a workshop by Creative Commune on how to make a concrete stool, so I decided to make a little How-To blog post on the process. A disclaimer, after Step 4 I advise you stop following my advice, as this is sharing what I did, and at the end I will note where I went wrong and what I’d do differently. This was a learning curve, first one was never going to be perfect, but now I have something to learn from. Anyway, enjoy making your concrete stool, hope it turns out better than mine!
First, what will you need to make your stool?
– Quick set concrete (we used 6kg worth)
– 400ml of water
– 3x timber legs, cut at 460mm
– A bucket of sorts
– Something to mix the concrete with
– Gloves, dusk mask and any potential protective eye wear
– Sand paper
– Spray paint is optional
Ensure you are wearing your dusk mask and gloves, grab your bucket and put in your 6kg worth of quick-set concrete (we used Australian Builders Quickset Concrete). It is advisable to mark out your leg positions, as once water is added you are against the clock. We used a simple ‘peace sign’ template which breaks the circle into 3rds.
Add 200ml of water and start mixing (we used a stick of timber to mix), then add another 200ml of water and continue to mix. Ensure the water reaches the dry cement, and remember to go around the edges. The concrete should be getting consistent, and almost ‘dough’ like. You will need to now shake out the air bubbles, so put the bucket on the ground (outdoors is best) and just shake it. You can lift the bucket up slightly and drop it as well, the idea is to remove air bubbles inside.
With the bubbles best removed, now it’s time to add the legs. I placed my legs more towards the centre, and splayed out to the edges, letting them rest against the lip of the bucket.
Now we play the waiting game, while the concrete bag says 15 minutes, it depends on the weather. On a warm, sunny day, yes 15 minutes, however I left mine to cure for about an hour prior to moving. Lightly touch the concrete to test if it is still soft or is going hard. Once it starts to harden the colour will change.
While still curing, pick up your bucket and leave the venue, ensuring the legs wobble and shake, which will loosen it from the concrete. Hopping on a tram is advisable to save your arms and legs strength, then walk a further 1km with the bucket. Once home, let it cure overnight.
Wake up all giddy to see the fruits of your labour, only to notice two of the three legs are loose. Curse yourself for not letting it cure at the venue overnight because you are impatient, then take the bucket into work to discuss tactics with your boss.
Remove the stool from the bucket by turning it upside and lightly shake and twist. Test the seat with a light sit, then turn it over and rip out the loose legs, fill the holes in with silicon and place some more silicon on the legs. Insert the legs back in and let the silicon settle.
Leaving the silicon overnight, sit on the stool to put on socks and brace yourself as the legs will come loose and you will fall on your ass. Flip the stool over and inspect the damage, rip out loose legs and further curse yourself. Leave it on your desk, sigh and tell yourself you will rectify it in a week after letting the concrete fully cure.
Extra Step 9
Despite not doing this step, yet, you can give the legs a light sand to remove any spalsh of concrete and such. Then pick out a paint colour, and either with a spray or brush, apply to either the whole leg, part of the leg, or you may even leave the legs unpainted. If you intend for this used outdoors, you will need to seal the concrete and also apply sealants and such to the timber to avoid moisture rotting it.
Where I Went Wrong
– The weather wasn’t ideal for curing, it was 10:00pm on a cold-ish Autumn evening. The “15 minute drying time” is probably for a warm, sunny day, so be sure to let it cure without moving it for at least 24 hrs. This would prevent the slight movements which caused my legs to not set in the concrete properly.
– I placed my legs close to the centre, my advice would be leave a good amount of space in the centre. This will reduce the angle of the legs, which would reduce the stress on the legs.
– I needed to shake and tap my bucket a bit more to remove more air bubbles.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
– I won’t move the bucket until it has cured for at least 24 hrs.
– I would put some form of mesh, even just flyscreen, or a couple reo bars, just to ensure the concrete is stronger.
– I would screw a couple screws to the legs in the ends which will be set in the concrete. These screws would act as a tail-bar, or dowels, and prevent the legs from pulling out.
So there you have it, my How NOT Make a Concrete Stool, Part A. Part B will look at me rectifying the damages caused, and then hopefully in the near future I can write up a proper How To Make a Concrete Stool post. If you do have a go at making it (remembering to stop after Step 4, let it cure then remove), show me your results! Tag me on Instagram, or Facebook, or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), would love to see it, and hopefully they come out better than mine!