diy project: tripod camping stool


In honor of this month’s outdoor theme, why don’t we build an old-fashioned camping stool? First of all, have you seen modern folding-tripod stools? They are ugly as sin, and your grandpa would be ASHAMED if you bought one. With the help of some hefty dowels, a little hardware and a piece of leather or heavy canvas, you’ll be sitting by the campfire in style. Also, the materials will only set you back about $25. — Matt

See the full how-to after the jump!


  • three 1 1/8” Birch hardwood dowels (enough for three 24” pieces)
  • one brass 2.75” bolt
  • one 1.5” eye-hole bolt
  • two brass acorn nuts
  • three brass washers
  • three brass finishing washers
  • three brass 1” wood screws (big enough not to slip through the finishing washer)
  • finish (I used Osmo PolyX-Oil)
  • leather or other heavy material for the seat


  • sander
  • center-finder (optional, but helps)
  • drill
  • screwdriver
  • small socket wrench to fit acorn nuts
  • rags
  • knife


1. Start by cutting your dowels to 24” or as close to that as possible. I bought two 48” dowels, so each leg is about 23 7/8″ after the saw blade’s share. Drill a hole completely through each one 10.5” from the top of each leg. Find the center of each leg’s top, and drill a small pilot hole for your seat-mounting screws. You’ll need this pilot hole to prevent your legs from splitting. Sand each of the legs smooth, and sand a little around the edge of the tops and a good amount on each bottom to round them out more. It doesn’t have to be perfect; just make sure you don’t shorten any leg with too much rounding.

2. After the legs are cut, drilled and sanded, apply your choice of finish and set aside to dry. As they are drying, you can work on the seat material. Download the seat template to see the exact size to cut your own. I chose leather because I have plenty of it around, but you could sew up a heavy canvas seat or any number of materials. Make sure it’s heavy and sufficiently reinforced, since there will be a good amount of stress on each corner.

On one corner of the seat, I left a tab for the carry strap, but this is optional. Mine’s attached to a closure strap, which I recommend having regardless of a carry strap. It’ll keep your stool from popping open in storage or carrying. I edged my leather pieces and treated the smooth surfaces with carnauba wax.

3. Once the legs are dry, assemble the structure by threading two of the legs together with the bolt, using the eye-hole bolt in the middle. Use washers on both ends, and attach the acorn nut. I actually cut my bolt down a little bit with a hacksaw, so it fit close. You’ll need a little play in the assembly to move, but it shouldn’t be gaping. Once those two legs are secure, feed the eye-hole bolt (which I cut down a little, too) into the third leg, and attach with a washer and acorn nut. Tighten both acorns securely with a socket wrench.

4. After the base is complete, attach your seat to each leg using a large finishing washer and the wood screw. Don’t over-tighten and strip out your holes, for you’ll need all the strength on these mounting points. After everything is secure, you can take a seat. The main bolt might bend a little to the stress, but that’s fine; it keeps its bend permanently, and that shape will aid in the folding-up state. Now you’re ready for your next campfire, sitting in distinguished comfort.

5. You’re done!


  1. LoneWolffe says:

    Gonna give this a try with local materials here in Northern Perú, pretty much the home of uncomfortable seating and bedding. My DIY hammock (13 soles) is more comfortable than my mattress (280 soles) :/

  2. Jessica says:

    Hi, what diameter bolt and eye-hole bolt did you use for the tripod legs? Will 1/4″ work? Thanks!

  3. Michele says:

    Could someone please tell me what size of leather I need? I know there is a template but I really need the measurements to know what size of leather to buy. Thank you!

    1. Colleen Wood says:

      I’m looking for the same. Have you gotten an answer to this question?

  4. Matt says:

    @Jessica – I think that might be too large… I try to keep a smaller hole drilled in the legs as to no weaken the wood.

    @Michele – the triangle edges are 14″ long, so a 15″ square would be enough for the seat. If you want a carry strap cut from the same piece, you’ll need more.

  5. Lisa says:

    Although this article challenges my english skills, i will definitely make one.
    This is the perfect present for my boyfriend! Thanks a bunch!

    Greetings from Germany :)

  6. James says:

    Thankyou very much for this how-to!

  7. Catherine says:


    Love this design! Only thing is, I’m having real trouble finding Birch dowels in the right size over here in the UK..Any suggestions for alternative wood? Oak, beech walnut etc? Or would 1″ dowel work as well? Thanks!

    1. Derek says:

      Anything hard. Oak, walnut, or maple should work fine.

  8. Jenny says:

    Marty: a solution for you: Print 3 pages and fit them together to make the triangle.

  9. Greg says:

    I just bought a second of the ugly shop ones, first one for sketching on my bicycle the second I want to shorten to fit in my motorbike rucksack, going sketching in wales. I don’t have time to build one but would the length of the poles matter, if not I could cut top and bottom off an inch to fit in rucksack? promise I shall make a real one when I return.

  10. Linda says:

    Hej hej! Was wondering what the measurements are for the leather seat. I’m having trouble printing the template (basically I don’t have a printer).
    Also, what are you edging the leather with?

    Thanks in advance!


    Ps. What a lovely site!

  11. Shelly Steiger says:

    FYI……I saw one on-line selling for 165.00 exactly like this. Perfect for plein air painting…..bought supplies to make it today!!! Thanks! :)

  12. Povilas says:

    Hello, could you please tell the dimensions for leather itself. Thanks,


  13. Margie Rossander says:

    Specific dimensions for the leather, please!
    Could you also use old broomsticks for the legs? (Scout activity related to recycling…)
    What do you “edge” the leather with?
    We look forward to making this!

  14. Margot says:

    Any info on how to make the strap? This is a great project and I’m really excited to make it but I feel like the tutorial left me a little high and dry with a lack of some important information and skipping a couple steps.

    1. Derek says:

      You can buy them precut off eBay and from other suppliers. Look for belt blanks. Otherwise, you can buy a strap cutter, but would need a long enough piece of leather to cut from.

  15. Rick Shuford says:

    New to the site. Our daughter will be performing in next years Macy’s Day Parade and we are planning on going. Being an avid wordworker, I laminated cherry, maple and cherry will turn the dowels to 1-1/4″ in diameter. Four coats of wipe on poly, and 12 ounce cowhide, with a waxed finish should do the trick. Being a knife maker who made my own sheaths, it will be no problem to reinforce the corners. I’m thinking of using two snaps in lieu of the buckle. Have the wooden blanks glued up and and hope to be able to turn them down on the lathe tomorrow. I think I’ll use stainless steel hardware for added strength. I’m sure my brother will want a set and so will my sister. This may make some great Christmas presents next year. Oh, I was also an Eagle Scout and a Scout Master, so this touches me in many areas.

  16. Tom Moak says:

    Made a couple of the stools this morning…I had some 1 1/2 inch ash that I cut into octagons on the table saw and sanded to smoothness….wound up welding a nut onto a short piece of threaded rod for the eye bolt….just felt it was more substantial ….put the whole thing together with stainless hardware and used some heavy leather I had on hand…came out nice….someone above asked about edging leather….Tandy makes several edging tools to smooth edges…or you could sand it smooth. I was pleased with the results

  17. Luke says:

    Hi, I couldn’t find any info. How long is your strap? How did you make the closure strap? It looks like a buckle? What materials?

  18. Tony says:

    What weight will this seat support? Looks like it’s for thin people.

  19. Michael says:

    Where did you buy the brass screws, acorn nuts, washer, eye hole bolt ? I tried lowes and home depot, but they don’t carry all items.
    Any suggestion from online site ?

    1. Derek says:

      Try a True Value or Ace, or any good local hardware store. Otherwise, Amazon/online.

  20. Ron says:

    Thanks for the tutorial!! I purchased several ones like this in steel and nylon, but they never last long. I’ll be making one like this this weekend!

  21. Chris says:

    For those asking about the strap:

    You will need about 48” of 1” leather, 6 Jiffy rivets (quick rivets), and a buckle. Tandy sells belt kits that you may be able to use for these, and I image you can find them elsewhere as well.

    Cut a piece of the strap to fit around the base, like a belt. Be sure to leave leather past the buckle – cold fingers and gloves make it harder to buckle things and you will want the extra there. Attach the buckle and secure with two rivets. Near the center of the piece, use a rivet and attach one end of the remaining piece of the strap. The other end will be attached to the tab on the seat. Before doing this, check the length and see if you need to shorten it. Then simply rivet in place.


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