Make Your Own Stool Sample – A True Gag Gift

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As we age, it becomes increasingly more likely that we’ll be asked to produce a stool sample. Why wait until the doctor asks that you “keep a log”? Be prepared, I say! Go ahead and bottle your stool now, while you’re healthy. No one wants to be slaving in the workshop when they have tummy issues; no good can come of that. This little novelty item goes over well with people of just about any age, healthcare worker or not. Those who miss the double entendre will still appreciate the cute little bar stool.

Bottle Club

Tiny glass bottles
These are the bottles I use: Hobby Lobby #314609

The project begins with a small glass bottle. I buy mine at Hobby Lobby. The ones shown are the perfect size (very inexpensive too). These bottles have necks that are tapered on the inside and include a matching cork.

A 1/2” pine dowel is used to make the seat of the stool. As is, the dowel doesn’t quite fit into the neck very far, if at all. Use sandpaper to slightly reduce the diameter of one end of the dowel until it just fits into the bottle neck. It should be able to be pressed into the neck only about 3/16” deep, then wedge into the taper. Don’t force it.

Sizing end of dowel
Wrap sandpaper around the end and twist the dowel back and forth to size it down as needed.
Dowel: Before and after
Top: The 1/2″ dowel was a hair too large.
Bottom: Perfectly sized.

Now that the end of the dowel has been sized, secure it in a vise and use a nail or awl to create three evenly spaced, shallow dimples, as shown. These dimples will serve – a little later – to keep a drill bit from wandering.

Marking for holes
Using a nail and mallet to mark center points for drilling.
Closeup of center points
These dimples will keep the drill bit on course later on.

This Stool Sample Has Legs!

The legs and rungs of the stool are made from ordinary round toothpicks. Clip off and discard the pointy ends of a few toothpicks. From the straight shafts of the toothpicks, cut three 3/4” long pieces for the legs.

Round toothpick
Only use the toothpicks’ straight sections. Clip off the tapered ends.

Select a drill bit equal in diameter to the toothpick, usually 3/32”. Use that bit to enlarge the three dimples we made earlier into shallow holes. Don’t go overboard here; these holes only need to be 1/16” deep (at most).

Drilling for legs
Drilling holes for the legs. The divots from earlier help to guide and position the bit.

Put a drop of Super Glue – or any other CA (cyanoacrylate) glue – in the first two holes then insert legs. Each leg should angle slightly away from the center of the stool seat. Before the glue sets up, make sure that the two legs are splayed just wide enough to barely fit into the opening of the bottle neck.

Super Glue
A drop of CA glue secures the legs into the shallow holes.
Leg splay
The two legs should just fit into the widest part of the opening.

When installing the final leg, position it just like the first two, so that any two adjacent legs just barely fit into the opening of the bottle neck.

All three legs in place
All three legs, glued in place.

The Dungs. I Mean, the Rungs

The rungs (also called “stretchers”) are the bars that stretch from leg to leg and hold everything together when you sit down. To determine rung location, imagine dividing the legs into fifths. Starting from the bottom of the seat, the rungs should be installed at about the 2/5th point. You want the rungs above (towards the seat) the mid point of the legs.

Determine the length of the first rung and cut it from a toothpick. Glue it into place then proceed with the next two.

First rung
The first rung cut to length.
Gluing on the first rung
Tweezers are highly recommended for this step!

You should now be holding a small stool in your hand. Set it aside (don’t sling it across the room; you’re not a monkey!) to allow the glue to dry before proceeding. In the meantime, go wash those grubby mitts of yours. Maybe grab a splash of sanitizer while you’re at it.

Assembled stool
The stool is fully assembled now.

Bottling the Goods

Before inserting the stool into the bottle, make sure you gave the glue time to completely dry. Otherwise, the off-gassing will deposit a cloudy white residue on the inside of the bottle, which will make your cool project look like . . . crap.

Begin by barely placing two legs into the opening of the bottle.

Bottling the sample
Begin by barely inserting two legs into the bottle neck.

Next, use your thumbnail to gently flex the third leg into the opening. If you’re careful, all three legs will flex a bit, absorbing the compression and preventing a breakage. Imagine explaining to the doctor how you broke a leg trying to pinch a stool sample.

Starting third leg
Gently flex the third leg inward with your thumbnail to get it started.
Full insertion
Rock the dowel back and forth while pushing.

Insert the stool as far as you can, until it’s snugly wedged into the taper of the neck. Don’t force it. Holding the dowel firmly, cut it off with a fine toothed coping or jeweler’s saw, right up against the lip of the bottle.

As far as it will go
Stool inserted to the point that it wedges firmly.
Cutting loose
The saw is cutting right up against the bottle neck.

At this point, carefully use a knife (if you feel comfortable doing so) to bevel the circumference of the top edge of the stool, removing the ragged sawn edge for a cleaner look. Then use a smaller diameter dowel and mallet to gently tap the stool down into the bottle. Put a cork in it; you’re done!

Chamfering top edge
Cutting a bevel (chamfering) the top edge of the seat.
Driving it home
Once the stool is in there it’s not coming back out. Use gentle taps to drive it home.

If you don’t add this project to the very top of your to-do list, I hope it’ll at least make number two.

Stool sample!
The completed stool sample. Let the hilarity ensue!

Want to see this project build in action? You can check it out right here:

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About Steve

Steve made his first woodworking project at age 9 (in 1982) and whittled his first wooden chain at 18. He was also a consumer electronics repair tech and shop owner for a little over 20 years, until his impending obsolescence became impossible to ignore. Since then, Steve has focused passionately on manipulating his wood... in his workshop. Don't judge him.

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5 thoughts on “Make Your Own Stool Sample – A True Gag Gift”

  1. Finally – a woodworking project that might fall within my skill set! And it seems quick enough that I could finish it without being pooped…


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