My wife has really loved making pottery, so I made her a special adjustable pottery stool. Apparently, these angled stools are good for the potter’s posture. I used some unique prep procedures for the metal conduit to make this one of a kind stool. Come see how we did it!
To make this adjustable pottery stool, I plan on making a metal frame out of thin-walled EMT conduit. This material is strong and inexpensive but can be very dangerous. Dangerous specifically when trying to weld the steel tubing. This pipe has a layer of galvanized coating on the outside to prevent oxidization and rust. When this coating is welded, it will produce harmful gasses so the coating needs to be removed.
To remove this galvanized coating, the pipe can be soaked in simple white vinegar overnight and the residue wiped off. I was really surprised to see how effective this method is and it opens up a host of ideas using this thin pipe. Again, if you plan on using EMT conduit for welding projects, please, please, remove the galvanized coating first.
The adjustable pottery stool will be made from two U-shaped frames welded together at the apex, supported by a cross brace. To make the U-shaped frames, I used a tool called a conduit bender because it…you guessed it, bends conduit. The pipe is manually pulled with the tool’s long arm until the desired radius is achieved. The two opposing U-shaped frames need to overlap each other, so I used my bench vice to flatten out the apexes allowing them to sit flush. Before I weld the frames together at this apex, I want to drill some holes along the sides of the legs. These holes will account for the stool’s adjustable legs. Once drilled, I welded the leg frames together and added some simple rebar cross-braces on the inside of the frames. Next, I need to make the adjustable legs.
Now for the adjustable legs. With the completed frame, I can insert some smaller diameter pipe into the ends. This smaller pipe can slide in and out of the frame allowing the stool to be slanted at a variety of angles. To keep the legs in place under the weight of a working potter, I added some spring-loaded ball detents. This simple mechanism is found in a lot of places. They work by pressing two balls inward and sliding the smaller pole until those balls pop out of other locking holes.
Because of the diameter difference between the smaller extendable legs and the inside of the frame, I modeled and printed some bushings. I used Fusion 360 and some calipers to measure and model the pipe’s shapes. Modeling simple solutions like this is super handy and pretty easy to do. If you are interested in learning how to 3d model solutions to your problems, we offer a comprehensive online course at www.fusion360formakers.com. After 3d printing the bushings, I used some 5-minute epoxy to secure them in place. Now I can paint the entire frame and the sliding legs with some clean white paint. While the stool is drying, I can make the seat.
Of course this stool, while functional, at this point is pretty uncomfortable. My wife requested a round seat with some teal marine vinyl. Teal, because she likes the color, and marine vinyl because it will inevitably get messy and need cleaning. I started with a sheet of plywood cut into a circle with the jigsaw. Next, I cut some high density foam with a cutting wheel and used spray adhesive to laminate a few pieces together. Next, I cut a large piece of the marine vinyl and set the inverted foam cake onto it. Using my pneumatic staple gun, I pulled the vinyl tight and attempted to pleat the sides and staple them underneath. The seat looked like a shiny blue bottle cap and it was pretty comfortable. I used pre-mounted bolts in the plywood to secure it to the metal frame and added some wooden plugs to the ends of the sliding legs as feet.
One Happy Potter
My wife is really happy with her new pottery stool and I’m surprised how functional it is. Everything I know about chair and stool making is that they need to be level. This one defies that logic and needs to purposefully slant toward the pottery wheel. You can buy an adjustable pottery stool, but like the name suggests, I liked making one on my own. I am fortunate enough to have amassed the tools necessary to problem-solve my way through this project. But, don’t let that be an excuse for you not to achieve your goals. I started with a hand-me-down saw in a 1-car garage and worked my up to the shop I have now. You can make amazing things with surprisingly limited tools.
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- Dewalt 20v drill driver combo
- Countersink drill bits
- Pancake compressor/nail gun combo
- Grizzly Drill Press (WAAAAY overpriced (3x) on Amazon, buy from Grizzly directly.)
- Shop Fox Hanging Air Filter
- 2HP Dust Collector
- 1 Micron bag
- Box Cutters (for eva foam)
- MIG welder *
- TIG welder
- Welding mask (auto darkening)
- Welding gloves
- Angle grinder *
- Cut off wheels
- Metal cutting bandsaw *