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Stools Step Up

Wood Project Inspiration

Beautiful finishing makes some forgotten furniture look better than ever.

It's high time for the lowly stool to get a little respect. We use them regularly yet hardly pay attention, perhaps because we see stools as mere tools that provide dependable service yet zero style. But a little finishing or refinishing can make any stool worthy of standing next to your nicest furniture.

Stools with style? Skeptics need only check out the ones shown above to see how special they can be. Rescued from an attic or basement, plucked from a tag sale and found at an unfinished furniture store, these stools share the good fortune of receiving some beautiful Minwax® stains and finishes. After old paint and varnish were removed and the bare wood was sanded smooth, all stains and topcoats were applied with ease. Any wood slated for a Minwax® Water Based Wood Stain was pretreated with Minwax® Water Based Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner to ensure even absorption.

The variety of looks shown here once again illustrates the versatility of Minwax® wood finishing products. Here's what was done to achieve these styles, clockwise from top right:

  • Beech legs and rungs on this rush-seated stool were stained with Minwax® Water Based Wood Stain Early Spring and top coated with Minwax® Polycrylic® Protective Finish in a semi-gloss sheen.
  • An oak seat was stained with Minwax® Gel Stain Antique Maple (see inset below) and top coated with Minwax® Helmsman® Spar Urethane in a satin sheen.
  • A secondhand footstool was stripped and then two-toned with Minwax® Water Based Wood Stain White Wash Pickling Stain and Wood Finish™ Ipswich Pine and finished with Minwax® Polycrylic® Protective Finish in semi-gloss sheen.
  • This almost-antique stepstool was stripped and then stained with Minwax® Water Based Wood Stain Deep Ocean, Botanical and Fruit Punch and top coated with Minwax® Wipe-On Poly in a satin sheen.


If you think stools are just for sitting, and only right for kitchens, hobby rooms and hone workshops, keep thinking. A matched pair, for instance, could support a shelf for displaying art or collectibles. A distinctive stool could serve as a stand for a plant, a framed picture or even a piece of sculpture. The right-height footstool could help a child step up to the bathroom sink or kitchen counter that's just out of reach.