DIY Counter Height Bar Stool Plan and Guide

It has taken a little while to get the details for this DIY counter height bar stool plan up on the site, but hopefully it’ll be worth it!

The DIY counter height bar stools turned out really great.  They were a little bit more difficult than I originally anticipated and did take a bit longer than expected, but they are a nice project for the weekend.

Everyone needs to take a seat, and these go perfectly with the DYI rustic counter height table that we built earlier this year.

Let’s get into how we built the counter height stools, which turn out to be really cheap (and modern) – much cheaper than store bought bar stools!

Here are the basics of the DIY Rustic Counter Height Bar Stool Plan:

  • Skill level:  Late beginner to intermediate
  • Cost:  $150 or so for 4 stools
  • Time:  About 2 days total

Remember, we all run into problems each and every time, so expect that.  Here’s our learnings from this project.

What NOT to do:

Do NOT make your stools too tall!  This plan came from the always helpful Ana White’s site.  However, this is for an extra tall bar stool.  Extra.  Tall.  So, instead of having the height be 4’2”, I recommend taking it down a couple inches to 4′, and adjusting the front legs as needed.  If you want the extra tall, that’s fine, but these stools to fit with the DIY rustic counter height table plan, we cut the stools down (after the fact) a couple inches.  No big deal.

Enough about what NOT to do – on to the plan…

Dimensions: It’s easiest just to post a few images depicting the measurements – see below in the first step.

Wood, Tools, and Supplies Needed

Wood:  I used a Douglas Fir again for these stools.  This is for FOUR (4) bar stools.

  • 12 – 2×2 @ 8 feet long
  • 5 – 2×3 @ 8 feet long
  • 4 – 1/2″ thick solid wood or plywood for seat


  • Kreg Jig – this is a MUST for this particular project.  If you don’t have one, you need one.
  • Kreg Jig screws
  • Circular saw
  • Hand saw
  • Sander (or sandpaper if you are ambitious and sanding by hand)

Other Supplies:

  • Red oak stain
  • Black Rustoleum paint (not the spray paint)
  • Polyeurethane
  • Wood glue
  • Cardboard


Step 1:  View the plan and make the cuts according to the dimensions

Below is the image from that a user posted to make this barstool.  Note that we did not decide to go with the cross-piece of wood, and instead just used square 2×3 pieces all the way through.

Be sure to read through this entire plan before acting on it.


Step 2:  Build the backside of the bar stool

Use your Kreg Jig to drill the holes in the appropriate places according to the image from Ana  We decided to show the holes on the front of the barstool (which is actually what you put your back up against – look at the finished product) to give a little bit of uniqueness.  We plugged them with dolly plugs from Kreg Tool, and stained them with a red oak stain.  We did not paint them to try to create some contrast with the darker paint.

The backside of the bar stool.

Step 3:  Build the front side of the bar stool

This is pretty simple – simply build the front side of the bar stool according to the photos.  This consists of a top brace and a lower brace that you will be able to rest your feet on.


Step 4:  Assemble both sides

Once you have completed the front and backsides of the stool, it is time to connect the two.  It’s best to lay these on a workbench or a solid floor if you are ok to crouch down.


Front and back pieces to the barstool.

Step 5:  Add the seat

We’re nearing the end! Cut the seat according to how the brace of the seat measures.  You will need to notch out the backside of the seat so it can slide into place easier.  We did not do this, but adding an upholstered seat to the barstool would make a cool (and more comfortable) spot to sit.

Step 6:  Sand

We just run a quick orbital sander over the heavily protruding spots and any place that you might sit down, like the seat of the bar stool.  Pretty simple, pretty easy.  After you are done sanding, be sure to wipe down the barstool – some people use mineral spirits, but I’ve found that water and a rag work perfectly fine too.

Step 7:  Stain, paint, and poly

We used a red oak stain on this bar stool.View Step 7 in our DIY rustic counter height table plan for specifics on the stain, paint and poly – we used the exact same technique since it was a match to the table.  Generally speaking, we laid an undercoat of red oak stain, wiped dry, let dry, and layered and wiped the black paint on, putting a final coat of polyurethane on when we were done.  It turned out great!

Step 8:  Let dry and take a seat!

That’s it!  Here is the finished product.  Now off to make the others!  You can use these for a bistro, bar, in the kitchen, combined with a pub table for your bar area, or even outdoors!



Additional Photos:


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11 Responses

  1. Al says:

    For the tops of the bench did you router the plywood edges or did you sand them down? What do you think works better for a beginner in wood working?
    What would you recommend for a hand held router if you used one in any other projects?

    • Matt says:

      Unfortunately I don’t have a router, so I actually used my orbital sander to sand down the edges – see Step 6. Most beginners won’t have a router, so a sander will do the job just fine (it’s just a bit more work). If you’ve used a hand held router and are comfortable with it, it’d be great to use (and probably more even and quicker). Best of luck to you Big Al!

    • Surprised that the pocket holes were not plugged with the special plugs that Kreg makes for their pocket holes. Just glue, sand and finish, and they blend really well.

      • Matt says:

        Hey Ron – yes, the plugs Kreg makes for their pocket holes are great – we actually did use them on the seat back of the bar stool, but stained them a red oak color, rather than just have them blend in with the black. We liked this for a unique, more handmade touch. You’re right though – those are an awesome tool!

  2. Anthony says:

    Im having trouble finding 2×2 and 2×3 boards at home depot and lowes other than construction lumber. Any suggestions?

    • Matt says:

      Hey Anthony – we actually only used the construction lumber we purchased at Lowe’s for this project, which is the same as the Douglas Fir, and it turned out great. I wanted the project to keep a rustic appearance, so it worked out well.

  3. rbilleaud says:

    I really love these stools and a heck of a lot cheaper than buying them. I’ve decided to give them a go, but I think I’m going to use dowel joints or mortise and tenon on the joints that show and save the Kreg joints for the ones under the seat, just for appearances sake.

  4. trish79 says:

    Hi Matt,
    I cannot find the plans on Ana Whites web site. Can I get the plans from you?

  1. May 8, 2012

    […] Preview: DIY Counter Height Barstools Posted by Matt on Jan 26th, 2012 in Bar, Kitchen | 0 comments UPDATE:  View the plan for these barstools here! […]

  2. June 17, 2012

    […] Kitchen, The MH Collection | 0 comments A lot of people come to this site looking for our DIY bar stool plan.  We really love that plan and the bar stools work perfectly for our kitchen and our counter […]

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