diy project: matt’s woven leather stool

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I’ve been doing a fair amount of home cleaning lately, and I think when it’s all over, I’d like to reward myself with one of these beautiful woven leather stools. Matt, the immensely talented craftsman behind Wood and Faulk, created this versatile little stool with simple tools and a few raw materials. I love the luxurious, pale leather, and Matt recommends using Danish oil to help bring out the rich tones of the oak and leather, allowing the woven seat to change color over time. I can’t wait to see more incredible creations from Matt and am so excited to try this out for myself! — Kate

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!

A small space necessitates smaller furniture. Whether you’re creating a small grouping of tables or need a side table or bench, this little piece can be quite versatile. Typically, this design would require more elaborate joinery methods to be strong enough, but by using pocket screws, you can create a svelte, sturdy frame with ease. — Matt

Materials
  • #6 carpet or upholstery tacks
  • strap material, leather or upholstery webbing
  • 2 x 2 oak for legs
  • 1 x 2 oak for stringers
  • pocket screws
  • Danish oil
Tools
  • pocket-screw guide
  • drill
  • saw
  • square
  • sandpaper
  • rags to apply finish
  • tack hammer

Instructions

1. Measure your leg height and mark the boards with a square. Perfectly square cuts will ensure you don’t create a wobbly bench. I cut mine at 15″. Next cut all your stringer boards. To make a rectangular bench, I cut four boards 18″ in length and four boards at 12″.

2. Drill all pocket-screw guide holes. You can find an inexpensive pocket guide at most hardware stores. I use a Kreg model. Clamp it to the board and drill all your holes.

3. After all boards are cut and drilled, sand them to a smooth finish. It’s much easier to sand now than after it’s assembled. Sanding to at least a 220 grit will give you a furniture-grade surface.

4. Now it’s time to assemble. I cut a couple 3/8″ pieces of scrap board to help position the stringers in the center of the leg pieces before attaching. I also used some scraps to uniformly space the lower stringers from the top. Now a complete side can be positioned on your work surface before driving all the screws. Assemble both complete ends, and then attach the two with your remaining stringer boards.

5. Now you have your complete frame and can apply finish. I love using Danish oil because it’s so easy to apply and has a beautiful look. Follow the instructions on the can, and make sure it’s completely dry before adding your straps.

6. I had a bunch of short leather 1 1/2-inch straps from a previous project, so it was the perfect choice for the woven top. Otherwise, you can use seat-belt webbing or upholstery straps. Cut your straps long enough to wrap completely around your boards. Using a tack hammer, attach all the long pieces first and then weave the remaining ones in and attach one by one. Because leather is such thick material, it’s necessary to have gaps between them so they can be woven. The thinner your strap material, the closer they can be woven.

7. DONE! I chose to leave the leather natural and used light, walnut-colored Danish oil, but any number of stains, finishes or waxes can be used to create yours.

Maggie

Lovely tute!
I like seeing some building-from-scratch projects in addition to the refirbs. Nicely done, Matt!

nathalie

Beautiful stool and wonderful project. Thanks for sharing this.

I definitely have to give this project to my husband so he can make us one. And thanks for the variation on materials. : )

Casey

I love this! So simple and stylish. Maybe I can convince my wood-worker boyfriend to make a couple of these for our new house. I’ve bought leather pieces for upholstery on ebay before…maybe I could find some of these straps there. Thanks for the how-to!

maison marigold

great tutorial…looks very easy too..i’d skip the wood bit( get a carpenter to do it instead) and tackle the weaving bit..that should be a breeze! thanks for sharing! xx meenal

Ashley

LOVE THIS! I wouldn’t recommened using pocket-hole joinery though… its cheap/quick/easy which is nice if you don’t mind the obvious holes. However, they do make plugs that you can glue into the holes, they’re a little less noticeable. I’m definitely going to make one of these but I’m going to go with dowel joinery because its even more sturdy and completely invisible! All you need is an inexpensive jig and dowels. THANKS!

Heather St. Marie

My Grandfather used to make woven chair seats like this all the time… Thanks for bringing me great memories!

Jane

Dear Matt, You should sell this in your shop. It’s lovely!

Michal

Where do find leather straps? I’ve searched all over Madison but haven’t found a leather shop.

Tandy

This is an excellent idea – I think rather than buy leather straps I’ll start scouring the thrift stores for old leather belts. I also think that rather than build a new stool I might look for one (again, at the thrift store) that I can re-do. Yay! I just brought an old leather chesterfield home and have been looking for ways to incorporate leather in similar tones elsewhere in the room.

Trina

I’m with Michal, where does one find leather like this?!

Matt

Thanks for everyone’s kind comments. As for buying leather, I’m lucky enough to live near a great store – Oregon Leather Co.

Clare

Could this be scaled up a little with affecting structural integrity? Like, to at least 23″ square? I’m thinking this would make a dog bed far, far nicer than the standard aluminium tubing and hessian sack that we currently have (I’m on an eternal quest for pet accessories that actually blend with our decor).

Sasha

This is a great idea and looks like it would work nicely to make a seat on a chair as an alternative to upholstery.

Matt

@Clare – Sure, you could create a larger version, and I’d think that span should be strong enough to hold a dogbed. If you needed it sturdier, you could always use 2x2s all around for added heft.

Jennifer

I love these stools, but the leather strips are a bit pricey, especially since I want to make two. Sourcing the leather from Tandy Leather, two would cost around $300! I think I’m going to explore using heavy rope and weaving in the same manner. I may try out hand dying the rope as well.

Matt

@Jennifer, If you’re really interested in making this, I buy half-hides for $100 and cut straps yourself. A half hide would be enough to make about 4 or more of this size at least… also, some leather shops have scrap bins that you can find great deals in.

Renée

I found some scrap leather at the local cobbler. It wasn’t super cheap, but he was able to give me the exact amount I needed and even cut it into strips for me!

I’m currently working on a chair using the same idea, but I’m finding that the leather is stretching a bit. I’m going to maybe try backing it with fabric. Any suggestions?

MikeG

What weight of leather straps did you use? Thinking about doing this to an old ash rocker for the seat and ottoman but am worried about the inevitable sag especially in the rocker’s seat. All I can find in straps is 8-9 oz leater, good for belts, but will it hold up for a seat?

Kristi

I made this but instead of leather strips I used old belts….and I LOVE IT! Great idea and great directions and pictures. Thanks Matt!

Angie

I also like the thought of using old belts. I’m going to go to a thrift store and check for some. Thank You, I love this.

Steven Johnston

This is a very cool idea. I do a lot of custom leather work and also wood work. I will have to make some of these as I have everything I need to make them on hand. I am also a Tandy Leather outlet so I would be able to help you get whatever leather you may need. If you have any questions you can contact me at: hardyoutdoorsman@yahoo.com

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